People might be surprised just how well they can kit out their computer without having to spend any money. While free software is unlikely to have the full features of paid software it is usually more than adequate for most home users. Here are some programmes home users really need to know about.
AVG is a perfectly effective anti-virus program; in fact it’s one of the best in the business. The free version simply provides protection against viruses, but those who want an even higher level of security can sign up for the paid version.
Zonealarm has long been recognized as an outstanding firewall. Basically a firewall is like a cloaking shield for your PC, helping to stop hackers from spotting it as a possible target. It also acts as a regular shield, warding off potential attackers. Zonealarm does a very capable job of both. Again, the free version is a simple firewall and there is a more sophisticated paid-for version.
Chrome is an internet browser developed by Google to rival Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Although most computers do come with Internet Explorer already installed, many people like the look and feel and speed of Chrome and it’s free.
While Microsoft Office may be king of the corporate world, Libre Office can do pretty much everything Microsoft Office does and it’s free. The files are fully compatible with Microsoft Office; it even supports .docx and its equivalents.
PDF is a great file format because it displays and prints the same way across all computers. If you just want to create basic PDFs, such as CVs and simple newsletters, this will do the job more than capably and for free.
You don’t have to have an iPod or iPhone or iAnything to love iTunes. It’s arguably the best music-management software available today and even if you hate everything else Apple and would never dream of buying anything from them, it’s still worth having on your PC if your PC can handle it.
This is basically iTunes light, but it does still do a pretty decent job of organizing your music and other audio files and it’s much less resource-heavy than iTunes.
Picassa is mainly for organizing photos, but also does a fairly respectable job of editing them. It’s offered for free by Google as part of its ongoing battle to take over from Microsoft.
Ignoring the name, this is a powerful photo-editing program which actually offers a lot of the features found in paid-for software, although it’s arguably less user-friendly than the paid-for equivalents.
What VLC lacks in polish, it makes up for in efficiency. It’s an all-round media player which will cheerfully ignore regional encoding.
Kindle for PC
You don’t actually need a Kindle to enjoy Kindle books, if you’re happy to read off your computer, then Kindle for PC will make it possible. Unlike most of the programmes given away by software development companies, Kindle for PC only supports one vendor’s format, but when that vendor is Amazon and it’s free, that fact is much easier to forgive.
The author is a full-time writer and translator who specializes in topics relating to IT and financial services. She’s quite lucky that her job is also her vocation. When she’s not working, she spends silly amounts of time doing other things at her computer but also has a collie dog to take her for walks.