When buying a computer, the focus is often on hardware yet the vast majority of what makes a computer is the software. Paying for software is often the easiest choice, but to pay for everything you might want a computer to do is both expensive and unnecessary. This article covers many of the most important and often expensive programs that you might need and gives great free alternatives which in many cases do as much or more than their far more expensive cousins.
The first software that anyone with a computer should download are security programs. Without good security software in place, any downloaded computer program can be dangerous, especially free windows software which is one of the most common ways for viruses to be spread. These are vital programs including antivirus, anti-malware, anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. These free security programs can protect both your computer and your wallet.
- ZoneAlarm Firewall Review
- Ashampoo Firewall Free Edition
- The New Avast Free Antivirus 6.0
- Top Five Completely Free Internet Security Programs
- The Best Free Adware and Spyware Remover Programs
At least as important as protecting your computer with security programs is the ability to protect your data with backup programs. Whether they are needed because your security programs missed something important, or because of hardware failure, you will be glad to have backed up your data. There are a lot of choices for backup programs, but for most people there is no reason to spend money when they can access any of these great programs for free.
- Top Free Backup Programs for Windows 7
- Top Seven Best Free Backup Programs for Windows 7 & Vista
- Comodo Backup 2.0 Review
Internet and Email
For many people the internet is the primary reason for owning a computer. Programs that can help improve the internet and email are always good to have. You can also find software to help you add content to your blog and even monitor your network. If the internet is the core of your computing needs then these programs will make your computer far more useful.
- Web Filtering Freeware
- Monitor Your Networks With No Out of Pocket Expense
- CNET TechTracker Review
- Top Five Free Blogging Software for Windows
One of the most expensive programs that the average person has reason to buy is Adobe Photoshop. But, while many graphics and photo apps are very expensive, there are free alternatives for almost every photo manipulation program. More important is that many of them are just as good as the far more expensive versions.
- The Best Free Photo Editing Software Applications
- GIMP – A Budget Photographer’s Best Friend
- Free Photo Editing Software Comparison
- Top 5 Free Vector Graphic Software Applications
Listening to music and audio on the computer is generally free, but creating music is far more complicated. Being able to create music shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford expensive software. These free windows programs can help anyone to create great audio for free. If you are interested in music, speech or any other form of audio these programs should do well.
- Top Five Free Professional Audio Recording Software Programs
- The Best Free Music Mixing Programs Ever Made
- Top Free Software for Recording Voice into an Audio File
Video Editing Software
While far more people use photo editing software, finding video editing programs can be considerably more difficult. So whether it is creating special effects or simply editing the video, these programs have to be good to be worth downloading, because a buggy program can turn an otherwise simple video editing job into something far more difficult. A good program, on the other hand, can allow you to do things that were previously the sole venue of huge Hollywood studios.
- The Top Video Editing Software That is Free
- The Best Freeware and Open Source Video Editing Software
- Top Free Green Screen Software
Odds and Ends
Many of the best programs cannot be easily categorized because it is their originality that makes them so worthwhile. Whether they are for creating Blu-ray disks or speeding up your computer, these programs fill important niches. So if you're looking for something specific or just interested in some of the other things that you might not know you can do, these free programs are worth checking out.
- Free Blu Ray Burning Software Downloads
- Recuva – Top Free Recovery Tool: Undelete Files
- Astronomy Sky Software You Can Download
- A Selection of the Best Free Genealogy Software
- FreeMind: Mind Mapping Tool For Project Management
- 10 Must Download Freebies: Free Software to Speed up Your Computer
- Source, author's own experience
- Images, screenshots from author's computer