There is a surprising amount of completely free software available but you need to be very careful that you trust both the software provider and the site you download it from. Often there is a catch:
- it might install something else that you wouldn’t have wanted
- it might work for a limited time only
- it might have a limited feature set
- it almost certainly has no support, so you are on your own if you have a question or it causes a problem
- it might change settings such as your web browsers home page or search engine
- it might direct adverts to you
- it might not be licensed for business use
- it might be malicious, infecting your computer with malware, a key logger or using it to send SPAM etc.
However if you know the software provider has a good reputation and you download it either directly from their website or a known safe download site, then there are some very useful utilities and great software programs available for free. Always check the licensing conditions if it is not just for home use!
You do not need any software that promises to speed up your computer or to automatically fix errors or to resolve Driver issues – most of these are programs that do little or cause problems and are best avoided. Software that offers to ‘Clean the Registry’ can also cause significant problems. The best cure is to install and run antivirus (and perhaps anti-malware) software, install Windows updates & to contact IT Support for remaining issues.
The following free software is commonly in use:
- AVG Free
- Avast Free
- Bitdefender Free
Note however that pay for Internet Security software is usually better as it is more of a complete package. Windows 10 includes ‘Defender’ which is anti virus and while it is better than nothing, it does not compete with the protection afforded by specialist packages.
- SuperAnti Spyware
Note free anti-malware software usually does not run in the background, so it provides no automatic protection. You will need to manually run it when you think it necessary. Upgrading to their pay for services usually means it runs in the background all the time, offering better protection.
PASSWORD MANAGER UTILITY
- KeePass (Free)
- Note (Google) Chrome, (Microsoft) Edge & (Mozilla) FireFox all include free password saving utilities!
MEDIA PLAYER INCLUDING DVD PLAYBACK
- VLC Media Player
OFFICE SOFTWARE (Word Processor, Spreadsheet etc.)
- LibreOffice (This is a great alternative to the costly Microsoft Office however it can be an issue if you share files with others using Microsoft Office; if the recipient does not need to edit the document then converting it to a PDF before sending is a good solution)
- Google Chrome
- Mozilla FireFox
- Microsoft Edge which is included with Windows 10
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- EM Client
- Windows Mail which is included with Windows 10
- Adobe Reader (although Microsoft Edge, included with Windows 10, can open PDF files)
PDF CREATION (e.g. convert a document to a pdf for distribution)
- Cute PDF (Latest versions of Microsoft Office can convert to pdf directly)
- Cobian Backup (now discontinued, but latest version works fine even on Windows 10)
- Windows has back up software hidden in ‘Control Panel’
- GIMP is a rather serious but quite capable program, if you have the time to adapt to it then it is a bargain!
HARD DRIVE OR FOLDER ENCRYPTION
- VeraCrypt (Note Windows 10 Professional version includes BitLocker but it is not ‘on’ by default)