For every paid application that is out there, there is a freeware alternative available. Many freeware packages are equal to their paid counterparts in terms of both features and functionality. Here we have provided an overview of everything that you could need when setting up a new PC, all is freeware of course! Never pay for software again with our list of handy free / open source applications, we have done our best to supply a list of every resource that you could ever need.
Free Office Software
Apache OpenOffice is one of the most reliable open source office suites available on the internet. It includes six fully functional, feature packed office tools, namely Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base and Math. When compared to their Microsoft alternatives, you have a word processor that equals Word, a spreadsheet applications that equals Excel, a presentation designer akin to PowerPoint, a database tool that functions and looks like Access and an equation editor, especially handy for students. Apache OpenOffice is supported by all versions of Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X.
LibreOffice is more actively developed than OpenOffice, but Apache’s software is the more stable and well supported option. LibreOffice provides the six basic functions given by OpenOffice, but also has a host of advanced custom-developed packages available, such as wiki publishers, presentation managers and templates. It is a fantastic option and a great alternative to OpenOffice, supported by all Windows version, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X.
Free Graphic Design Software
Gimp is the open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop, and whilst it is not as easy to use it is just as powerful. Gimp allows you to handle almost any file format with no problems at all, supporting the importing of many actions and formats from Photoshop. Gimp is extremely well supported and has a huge member base available to use as a resource whilst developing graphics in this great freeware graphics editor. The only thing to be criticized is the steep learning curve, although even with paid apps in the graphic design industry, this is fairly common.
Pixia is a great graphic design tool that has quite a cult following in the east. Pixia does it’s best to provide advanced image editing of vectors with minimal effort. For those that are new to graphic design it makes for a fantastic introduction to the art of digital editing.
IrfanView is an extremely popular, compact photo editing application that also has a highly responsive gallery feature, and support for advanced batch jobs and bulk conversions of images. IrfanView gives you everything that you need to quickly perform edits to either single or multiple image files in any format. It is a near essential to anyone that views or edits graphics regularly.
Free Antivirus & Anti-Malware
Avast Free Antivirus
Avast Free Antivirus is the optimal free protection for your PC, Mac or Android. It protects against viruses and well as internet related threats, such as remote attack attempts and other outside intrusions. Avast is updated on a daily basis and thus gives you the best protection out there. It uses an extremely low amount of memory and is never obtrusive. Program updates are also provided regularly, although are never more than roughly 50mb. Avast even has a “Silent / Gaming” mode whereby it uses even less resources, and never annoys you with any prompts at all whilst switched on.
Malwarebytes Free Anti-Malware
Malwarebytes Free Anti-Malware is an excellent app to have running alongside Avast, giving your specialized protection against rootkits, browser hijacks and other malicious forms of malware, such as data miners. Malwarebytes maintain one of the most up to date protection engines around. It is a free tool that is essential to the proper operation of your PC at all times, and whilst running in the background it uses barely any memory at all.
Free Performance & Maintenance Software
Advanced SystemCare Free
Advanced Systemcare Free is ad-supported freeware that barely ever displays anything obtrusive, whilst giving you one of the most powerful maintenance toolsets in production. Advanced Systemcare Free performs a range of optimization and cleanup utilities to restore your computer to tip-top performance. From registry repair and defrag to the patching of known security holes, Advanced SystemCare Free does it all.
RAM Rush is an application that most people will not have a use for, but for those that are struggling with old hardware and minimal memory, this free app is a lifesaver! It runs in the background using minimal memory and can either be configured to automatically flush temporary memory when it detects it is necessary, or you can launch it from the system tray and flush your RAM manually. This restores your resources within seconds, giving you the slight performance boost that you need.
Free Video Editors
Windows Movie Maker
Windows Movie Maker is standard as part of Windows 10, for the rest of us it is available as a free download, part of the Microsoft Essentials applications. Windows Movie Maker is one of the most intuitively designed video editing apps around and gives anyone access to a range of fairly advanced video editing and sequencing tools.
If you are looking to make simple videos for YouTube and want something even easier to use than Microsoft Movie Maker, then look no further than EZVid. Its well-designed interface guides you through the process of editing together your own video, and the results are rather professional. EZVid is a great place to start video editing with almost no-learning curve at all.
Free Sound Software
Audacity is a freeware multi-track sound editor and recorder. It allows you to quickly and easily edit almost any audio track in a range of formats, cutting, moving, adjusting as you see fit. It is great for capturing live audio as well as for converting recorded tracks. Audacity carries all of the functionality of many high priced sound editors and is easier to use than just about anything else out there.
LMMS is a sound production suite that is extremely similar to packages such as Fruity Loops and Reason. It is easy to use, feature packed and best of all, free! LMMS is praised for its intuitive interface and great learning curve. This great free cross-platform digital audio workstation is fully supported by all Windows version, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X. The community is buzzing with insight and resources to assist your sound production along every step of the way.
Free Media Players
VLC Media Player
VLC is the best possible option of multimedia player, out of all possibilities, paid or free. It is the most versatile player around that can handle all video and audio formats, even being capable of playing damaged clips at times. VLC can also perform many advanced features such as streaming video to or from the internet, as well as repairing media files and allowing for advanced customization of all playback and recording codecs. You will not find any media player that is more comprehensive that this great free tool from VideoLAN.
If you need a media player that is low on memory then you won’t find a more efficient player than foobar2000. It is the preferred choice for the playback of audio files, although video is supported as well. The interface is lightweight, minimalistic and easy to navigate and the player literally could not consume less memory. It is a must have for the playback of music in the background on a low resource PC.
Handbrake Video Converter
Handbrake is the best multi-platform video converter available. Its interface is powerful but easy to use and it is capable of handling almost any file format. Handbrake is also one of the quickest video converters around, even handling batch conversions with ease. If you need to convert video, then Handbrake is without a doubt your best bet!
Format Factory is a multi-format converter that handles videos, images, documents and just about any other type of file that you can think of. Conversions are quick, although Handbrake is better for large format video. For anything else from Word documents to PowerPoint presentations, databases and a range of image formats, Format Factory is the number one option.
Free Online Tools
If you are going to be downloading from torrents at all then you need a lightweight and low-resource torrent client. uTorrent uses next to no memory and is supported by all platforms. There is no better way to fetch torrent files than using the free version of uTorrent.
If you are looking for a powerful email client that uses less resources than the bulky Microsoft Outlook then Mozilla Thunderbird is for you. It supports all mail accounts and gives you free access to a range of powerful email handling functions, equal to that of Outlook. Thunderbird even has a huge range of themes and addons developed by the community, it is a great choice as a primary email client.