Have you been trying to do something, but you don’t have the right software … and you don’t have the money to buy that commercial piece of software that will let you do it? Well, there’s probably an open-source or freeware application that will help you do what you need or want to do without having to shell out some serious bucks. Here’s few links and information about a number of very good software programs, most of which are absolutely FREE.
- Microsoft Security Essentials — Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. If you’re a PC novice, you might want to install this anti-viral protection program (you can only install one “definitions driven” anti-virus program … so you’d need to pick MSE or Avast … but you wouldn’t be able to install both). MSE is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple. No annual re-registration requirement.
- Avast! Home Edition — Avast Home Edition is FREE for home/personal use. Works great. It’s not as invasive as Norton and McAfee and it doesn’t bog your PC down into nowhere land. Plus, it has a feature that lets you perform a boot-time scan before windows starts up (letting you delete any little uglies that might have set up residence in the system folder BEFORE windows start-up). Free for home/personal use; requires annual re-registration.
- Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware — If your PC should get infected by something really ugly, this program can be quite useful in helping to eradicate the pest. The free version is run on-demand by the PC user … but if you want it to run on it’s own, providing real-time protection, or scheduled scanning and updating operations, there’s a one-time fee of $24.95. I use this one more for when I’m troubleshooting and repairing a neighbor’s PCs to removed varmints that have plagued their registries.
- Microsoft Safety Scanner — The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It works with your existing antivirus software. Note: The Microsoft Safety Scanner expires 10 days after being downloaded. To rerun a scan with the latest antimalware definitions, download and run the Microsoft Safety Scanner again.
- Keepass — KeePass Professional is a free, open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known.
- PC Tools Password Generator — Create random passwords that are highly secure and extremely difficult to crack or guess due to an optional combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. (But … don’t forget to save it in KeePass (or Roboform) … so you can get into that site the next time … because any passwords this application generates are going to be a bit difficult to remember off the top of your head.)
- Roboform— With Roboform, you only need to remember ONE password to be able to access all your passwords, notes and form-filling data. That one password is used to encrypt and secure all your Roboform data. Roboform integrates with most well-known browsers (e..g., Chrome, IE, Mozilla Firefox) and includes a great tool for creating passwords for the various sites you visit, that can be as complex and as long as the site allows you to use. Roboform is available in three varieties for Windows, Macintox, Linux, I-Phone, Windows Phone, Windows Metro and Android:
- Roboform for PC application that stores your encrypted database file of all your passwords on your workstation PC
- Roboform Everywhere application that stores your encrypted database file of all your passwords on a Roboform cloud server
- Roboform2Go application that stores your encrypted database file of all your passwords on a USB drive
- PREY — Protect your devices from theft. Prey is an anti-theft tracking software for your laptop, phone and tablet that lets you remotely locate, lock, wipe and recover it if ever stolen, or simply missing. You do this by logging into an web platform where you can also trigger actions like sounding an alarm or show an onscreen message to let the thief know you’re after him. Prey is an open source application with a free plan that has a limited (but pretty wide) set of features, and paid plans that start from 5 USD a month. Install Prey on your device before it goes missing!
- Belarc Advisor — Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server. Belarc usage is free for personal use only.
- Glary Utilities — This set of utilities comes in a Free manual version and a very nominally priced automated version. It has a 1-click maintenance tab for cleaning your registry, fixing your shortcuts, removing spyware, cleaning out unnecessary leftover temporary files, erasing your online tracks, and performing any necessary disk repairs. There are also a number of advanced tools that make an easy job of repairing or defragging your registry, setting up a boot defrag, erasing or shredding files, performing a disk cleanup, repairing your system files, backing up your computer, and checking for program updates on a large percentage of applications you have installed on your computer. This all-in-one utility for cleaning your PC is definitely one that you want to have in your arsenal of tools for keeping your PC in tip-top condition.
- SecuniaPSI — To safeguard your PC against cybercriminals, SecuniaPSI scans installed software on your system and identifies programs for which security updates are available. If set for automatic update, it will automatically download and install available updates to keep it safe. Using a scanner like Secunia PSI 3.0 is complementary to antivirus software, and is an essential tool for keeping you Home PC secure. Free for personal use.
- CCleaner — CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! [Freeware]
- doPDF — doPDF installs itself as a virtual PDF printer driver in your ‘Printers and Faxes’ list. To convert to a document to PDF, all you have to do is select doPDF as your “printer.” Open a document (with Microsoft Word, WordPad, NotePad or any other software), choose Print and select doPDF. It will ask you where to save the PDF file and when finished, the PDF file will be automatically opened in your default PDF viewer. This one doesn’t advertise itself on every copy it prints. Plus it can be used in both home and commercial situations.[Freeware]
- EASEUS Disk Copy — EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware application that will allow you to create a sector by sector disk/partition clone, regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme. The sector to sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to original. EASEUS Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. [Freeware]
- EASEUS ToDo Backup — Supporting Windows 8.1/8/7/Vista/XP, ToDoBackup is a FREE backup application for not just backing up your system and restoring it to original state should disaster strike and your system hard drive fails. ToDo Backup can perform various types of backup operations: System backup, Disk Imaging, File Backups, Sector-by-Sector Backups, Full Backups, Incremental Backups, Differential Backus and even ‘Scheduled’ Backups.
- SyncBack Free — If you’ve ever used Microsoft’s SyncToy, you know it’s great for copying entire folders of files from one drive to another, however, it was a manual operation. SyncBack allows you to create profiles to automate the sychronization of files, folders, or entire drives on a schedule of your choosing. Runs on Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP. Got a home server, but can’t afford the cost of software to back it up? SyncBack can easily back up your home server assets to a NAS to keep all your movies, music and photo galleries safe and sound. Free for personal, educational, charity, government, and commercial use.
- Filezilla — FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface. This application has been written for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX platforms. [Freeware]
- JZip — jZip is a powerful and reliable compression utility based on proven and reliable 7-Zip archiving technology by Igor Pavlov. jZip sports an elegant, easy to use yet powerful user interface which lets you create, open and extract Zip, TAR, GZip and 7-Zip. Open and extract from RAR and ISO. [Freeware]
- EASEUS Partition Master — The Home Edition allows you to extend a partition (especially for system drive), manage disk space easily, and resolve low disk space problems under Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 (Only for 32 bit). Free for home users. [Freeware]
- Partition Wizard — Partition Wizard Home Edition is a free partition manager which allows you to perform operations like: resizing, copying and deleting partitions; formatting, converting, exploring and hiding partitions; changing drive letters; setting the active partition; and performing partition recovery. Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7 (32-bit & 64-bit) operating systems.
- Revo Uninstaller — Revo Uninstaller helps you to uninstall and remove not just the programs you’re uninstalling, but can peruse both your file system your registry for leftover remnants after the vendor’s uninstall application runs and offer you an option to remove those leftovers as well. This application is extremely handy when you’re trying to clean out crapware that you didn’t intend to install, but that some application automatically installed when you didn’t select the “advanced” installation mode. [Freeware]
- Unchecky — Have you ever installed an application and not selected the ‘advanced’ option and subsequently learned that installer installed a piece of crapware or two or three? Unchecky keeps all those “checkboxes” that allow such installation clear or “unchecked” so automatic installation of crapware becomes a thing of the past. Additionally, if you mistakenly click a box or button that would allow such installation, it pops a warning letting you know that you might not want to do what you just did before it lets the installation proceed. This one was definitely worth the time to download and install it.
OTHER EXCELLENT OPEN-SOURCE/FREEWARE APPLICATIONS
- Ashampoo Burning Studio — This application is as good as Roxio in many cases. Multi-disc file backup and restore on CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs; create compressed backup archives with powerful password protection; split archives automatically across multiple CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs; restore archive contents to their original locations; integrated Audio CD ripper store your audio tracks as WMA or WAV files; new option for setting the number of copies you want to burn (available for all disc formats); discs can now be verified immediately without being ejected first (if the drive supports this feature); numerous other small improvements that make the program easier to use and more effective; burn files and folders on data CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray discs; burn Audio CDs from WAV, MP3, FLAC, WMA and Ogg Vorbis files; burn MP3-CDs from your MP3 files; burn Video DVD, Video CD (VCD) or Super Video CD (S-VCD); create and burn CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc images; burn speed and other options can all be set automatically. Please note, there is a free version as well as a paid version.
- Audacity — Need to edit an audio file? Audacity® is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. [Open Source Freeware] Note: Don’t forget to install the Lame MP3 Encoder plug-in if you intend to save any of those audio files as MP3s.
- Calibre—eBook Management: calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories: (1) Library Management, (2) E-book conversion, (3) Syncing to e-book reader devices, (4) Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form, (5) Comprehensive e-book viewer, and (6) Content server for online access to your book collection
- CDex — CDCDex can extract the data directly (digital) from an Audio CD, which is generally called a CD Ripper or a CDDA utility. The resulting audio file can be a plain WAV file (useful for making compilation audio CDs) or the ripped audio data can be compressed using an audio encoder. In addition, WAV files on the hard drive can be converted to a Compressed Audio File (and visa versa). CDex also supports many audio file tag formats like the ID3V1 and ID3V2 tags, which can be automatically inserted as part of the ripping process. [Open Source Freeware]
- Freemake Video — This freeware application allows you to convert video files from one format to any of a large number of other formats (AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, FLV, SWF, 3GP, DVD, MPEG, MP3, iPod, iPhone, PSP, Android). It allows you to convert your DVD movies to files that can be stored and played on your PC, and it has a helper application for your browser that can download/convert video from sites like YouTube.
- FoxIt Reader — Foxit Reader is a small, lightning fast, and feature rich PDF viewer which allows you to create (free PDF creation), open, view, sign, and print any PDF file. Its multi-tab style document display allows users to go back and forth between different PDF documents quickly and easily. Foxit Reader supports Windows XP/2003/Vista/Win7/Win8 & 8.1.
- Inkscape — Need a vector drawing program? Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X.
- LiberKey-Portable — Using Liberkey, you can install over 200 open source portable applications and utilities on your portable USB device which can be plugged in any computer and launched from the USB Key without having to install them on the PC you’re using. It’s free … and it works great. Click the link and check out all the applications and utilities (I set one up using the ultimate compilation … and then installed a few more apps that weren’t automatically included in that compilation).
- MediaMonkey — MediaMonkey-Free allows you to manage a music library from 100 to 50,000+ audio files and playlists located on your hard drive, CDs, or a network. Organize, browse, or search music by Genre, Artist, Year, Rating, etc., and never waste your time trying to find mp3s you know you have. It supports MP3, AAC (M4A), OGG, WMA, FLAC, MPC, WAV, CDA, M3U, PLS, etc. [Free Version]
- MP3 Tagger — MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) is a music-file format which can contain an ID3 tag. The ID3 tag has several cells you can set. These are the Songtitle, Artist, Album, Year, Genre, Comment and several more such as Composer, Original artist, Copyright, URL, Encoder type, etc. Media Tagger lets you modify any number of files at a time in an easy way. You may synchronize ID3v1 with ID3v2, name the file according to the tag or vice versa or format the letter capitalization in the file???s name. You can also create a WinAMP playlist (m3u, pls), create a file listing for Excel (csv) or Notepad (txt) or generate it as a HTML page, all this with just one click. [Freeware]
- Microsoft OneNote — OneNote is available from Microsoft as a free application for all your devices. Using the metaphor of Book-Chapter-Page, you can create books (notebooks) of all you information with chapters (tabs for separating it into useful sections), and pages within each tab of the information you’re collecting, sharing and/or collaborating with others to create.
- Microsoft OfficeMix — The Office Mix add-in for PowerPoint2013 is a new way to tell your story with voice, video, inking, screen recording and interactive magic. Record your voice and video while you present and write on your slides. Engage viewers with quizzes, polls, videos and apps. This one is a must have for teachers.
- Open Office— OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages (e.g. MS-Office, Wordperfect). It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
- Draw gives you the tools to communicate with graphics and diagrams. Manipulate objects, rotate in two or three dimensions; use sophisticated rendering to create photo-realistic images. Smart connectors make short work of flowcharts, organisation charts, network diagrams, etc. Styles – a common OpenOffice.org feature – help you control your work easily and precisely in Draw.
- Writer has everything you would expect from a modern, fully equipped word processor or desktop publisher: powerful features like AutoCorrect, AutoComplete, AutoFormat, Styles and Formatting, Text Frames and Linking, Tables of Contents, Indexing, Bibliographical References, Illustrations, Tables, and other objects.
- Calc is the spreadsheet you’ve always wanted. Newcomers find it intuitive and easy to learn; professional data miners and number crunchers will appreciate the comprehensive range of powerful features including Advanced DataPilot technology, Natural language formulas, an Intelligent Sum Button, a comprehensive range of advanced spreadsheet functions, Styles and Formatting, and a Scenario Manager for “what ifs”.
- Impress is a truly outstanding tool for creating effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will stand out with 2D and 3D clip art, fontworks, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools. A multi-pane view puts all the tools at your fingertips, and you can ‘park’ your most commonly used drawing tools around your screen ready for single-click access. Share your work in many ways: not only pdf, but also html and Flash.
- Base enables you to manipulate database data seamlessly within OpenOffice.org 3. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, either using your own database or Base’s own built-in HSQL database engine. Base offers a choice of using Wizards, Design Views, or SQL Views for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users.
- LibreOffice — LibreOffice contains the same applications as OpenOffice. It’s another free power-packed Open Source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. The software application, Support and documentation is free.
- Open Project — OpenProj is a free, open source desktop alternative to Microsoft Project.
- Paint.Net — Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. [Open Source]
- Wink — Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.
- Del.icio.us — Social Bookmarking service. Store all you bookmarks/favorites online, then logon and access them from any PC.(sign up for free)
- Drop Box— Do you sometimes work on files from work at home? Do you need to back up some critical files? Do you need to share some files with another contact, friend or family member? Dropbox is the easiest way to store, backup, sync, and, share files online. Best of all, not only is DropBox free, but you get 2GB of server space for free.
- TinyChat — Within but a few clicks of a mouse, you and up to 11 of your coworkers can fire up a huge, Brady Bunch-style video chat interface complete with an accompanying text chat. Pony up $20 a month and you’ll even get the chance to share your screen, amongst other features.
- Prezi — Prezi allows you to create slideshows in a super-easy way. You can slap in transitions, insert images, group and layer your various bits of information, and generally create this moving, almost cinematic kind of a display that’s quite a bit removed from the standard slide-after-slide Powerpoint route. Once you’re done, watch your presentation via the Web (or share it, or embed it in a blog, etc.).
- Google Docs — Create and share your online documents, presentations and spreadsheets (sign up for free). Integrates with Google Mail, Google Calendar and Blogger.