How to find free PC Software
Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 18:08
Most college students are broke, largely due to the rising cost of tuition, books, and room and board. If you are like many others out there, it's likely that you'd rather spend what little money you do have on food, clothing and other necessities. But on top of books and tuition, some of your classes will probably require certain software applications in order to pass. Sure, you could hit dad up for the Microsoft Office suite and the latest version of Photoshop, but wouldn't he be happier -- and have more money to send your way -- if you didn't?
While you can't get Microsoft Office or Photoshop for free, the good news is that for many great software applications, there are free alternatives. Open source software, freeware, and shareware applications are plentiful on the internet, and in most cases these programs can work just as well. Below, you'll find a few helpful tips and tricks on finding free software for your computer.
The trouble with finding software on the internet is that it can be difficult to determine which sites and programs are not only legitimate, but safe to run on your computer, too. Fortunately, there are a few websites that compile these sorts of programs, even going so far as to scan them for spyware and provide reviews. Three such sites are www.freewarefiles.com, www.download.com (CNET), and www.sourceforge.com.
Commonly, these sites are easy to navigate, provide reviews and user ratings of each program, and also feature links to similar programs. The most helpful of these sites is www.download.cnet.com, which provides reviews, ratings, comparisons, and specifications for everything from desktop video cards and laptops, to the latest 4G phone, -- and of course, a special section dedicated to computer software. --
When setting up a new computer, one of the first programs to look for is a good web browser. While Internet Explorer (IE) may work for you, generally, it is less secure against viruses and identity theft than a few other free browsers. IE is also more strictly regulated by Microsoft, which allows for less customizing, making it less convenient to do various online tasks. Although there are reports of improvements in the IE latest release, you may prefer to use Mozilla Firefox, which features add-ons and customizations that do everything from blocking ads on facebook, to modifying the appearance of the browser window itself. Firefox can be found at www.mozilla.com or on www.download.com.
Google Chrome is another excellent browser. It is easy to use, and very fast. Chrome can also be customized and has add-ons available. You can find and download Chrome at www.google.com/chrome.
After downloading a new browser, the next step is to download some anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You can find a number of them on CNET. For day-to-day use, AVG is an excellent choice, and can be found at www.free.avg.com/us-en/download/, or on CNET. This is one of the most widely used free anti-virus applications, which means that a great many people are running this software daily. With more people running it, there is a greater chance that new viruses will be detected and dealt with before they reach your computer. Another good program available is Avast, which you can find at www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download or also on CNET. A very powerful tool called Malwarebytes can be found at www.malwarebytes.org/mbam-download.php. Whichever you choose, make sure you pick the free version during the installation process.
College classes frequently require a word processing, spreadsheet, or slide show program. OpenOffice is a very powerful suite of programs which can handle anything that Word, Excel, and number of other programs do. Some may even prefer it over Microsoft Office, because of its ability to handle a greater variety of document types. Get it for free at www.openoffice.org. For a simple word processing application, you also might try AbiWord, which can be found at www.abisource.com.
Art students sometimes need a photo-manipulation program such as Photoshop. Two free programs that you might find useful for these types of applications are Photo Pos Pro, and GIMP. Photo Pos Pro is a relative newcomer to the scene, but is nonetheless fully capable. You can find it at www.photopos.com. GIMP has been around for a long time, originally developed for the Linux operating system and has since been adapted for use on Windows. It is a very powerful image and photo editor. Get it direct from the developers at www.gimp.org, or download it from CNET.