Monday, 1 June 2015

Top 10 Free Essential Software for Windows

Contrary to what most people believe, a good amount of free software is available out there which can do most of your work. The first thing anyone would do after buying a swanking new PC, or installing a fresh copy of Windows, is install whatever essential software is needed to make the system usable. Of course a significant amount of work can be avoided if you're using Linux, but not everyone is quite so comfortable with it. So let's take a look at the top 10 essential software for Windows which you can get without breaking your bank.

Avast! Free Antivirus

 



What every Windows computer needs is an antivirus software. Avast! provides you with a solid interface, and very good virus detection rates. Definition updates are frequent (and automatic) enough to catch most viruses before they infect your PC. It also has a pretty good "Web Scanner" which can protect you from browser based attacks rather efficiently.  A lot of branded PCs these days ship with a rudimentary anti-virus software, or with a trial version of one. For most casual users, a high end internet security suite is not quite necessary. In fact quite a few anti-virus applications which ask you to pay for their services, don't actually provide any substantial protection (eg. NetProtector AV). That being said, please avoid using NetProtector if it came with your computer. It is known to have one of the worst detection rates, and very poor stability.

Website Link: Avast! Free Antivirus

7-Zip

 



Windows provides a compression and extraction tool for zip files, but the functions are absolutely basic. If you want a more comprehensive set of tools, then 7-zip is one of the best tools out there. It supports a wide variety of formats including some which you probably haven't even heard of. The compression offered by their 7zip format is probably the best you can get today. The interface is simple enough for most people to use. It also offers extraction and compression options when you right-click on a file or folder. Support for encryption and self-extracting capabilities are just icing on the cake.

Website Link: 7-zip Website 

Foxit Reader

 



Most of us simply install Adobe Reader for opening PDF files. But, there are quite a few alternatives out there which are faster, lighter, and have about the same features as Adobe Reader. Foxit will give you all the standard features you're accustomed to find in Adobe Reader. There are a few paid extensions available within the program for added functionality, but most people wouldn't really need those. Other than the fact that it opens up much faster than Adobe, it's also about half the size. Although some have claimed that certain documents open better in Adobe Reader, I haven't yet faced any issues with Foxit.

Website Link:  Foxit Software Website 

Mozilla Firefox

 



Nobody likes Internet Explorer these days. In fact, Microsoft has dropped it in Windows 10. Although most people would prefer to use Google Chrome, Firefox stands out because of its excellent support for add-ons and extensions. Google Chrome may have apps, but Firefox has better privacy features. You can be sure that your browsing habits aren't being tracked by evil corporations bent on taking advantage of your innocence. Unlike Chrome, Firefox is open-source. Of course Firefox, and Chrome are good browsers, but I would lean towards Firefox for ethical reasons.

Website Link: Mozilla Website  

VLC Media Player

 



VLC doesn't need much of an introduction. It's widely used for playing all sorts of media files. Other than being simple, fast and powerful, VLC is supported across all major platforms. You can download it on Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix and even Android. At just 28MB, this is one solid media player that can play almost anything you throw at it. Be it some obscure video format from the internet, or just a rudimentary DVD, VLC will play it.

Website Link:  VLC Website

CDBurnerXP

 



Most of us would automatically turn towards Nero or Roxio to burn our CDs and DVDs. These are the most commonly bundled tools out there for disc burning. CDBurnerXP is a lightweight, yet fairly powerful tool for your disc burning needs. I have previously written a full review on it, which you can read here.

Website Link:  CDBurnerXP Website 


LibreOffice

 



Most of us use Microsoft Office because it either came with our computer, or we bought it (I am not considering pirates here). If you don't think you want to pay for Microsoft's suite, you can use the free and open-source LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes with a slew of apps including a word processor, spreadsheets, slide presentation, database tools, and even a tool to generate math formulas. It may not looks as fancy as Microsoft Office, but it overcomes that with the kind of functionality offered. All Microsoft document formats are natively supported. For the kind of features it offers, it's rather surprising that a software like this can be given away for free. If you still don't believe me, give it a try and see for yourself.

Website Link: LibreOffice Website

CCleaner

 



Ever so often our computer slows down to a crawl and our drive space seems to disappear of its own accord. This usually means that your PC is beginning to accumulate a large amount of junk files over time. Cleaning all this manually is a tedious process, hence we have CCleaner (stands for Crap Cleaner) to the rescue. CCleaner can effectively clean out all the unnecessary junk you have lying around on your PC. Not just that, it can even clean out your registry, help you find duplicate files, and even weed out unnecessary system restore points. If you've been using your computer for years, CCleaner should help you regain quite a few gigabytes of space, and perhaps even speed up your computer.


MusicBee

 



MusicBee is a music manager and player. It has a multitude of features and has a fully customizable interface. If you've used iTunes or Winamp before, MusicBee should be quite familiar. It plays most audio files out of the box and has great playlist management features. Radio and podcast support is also present. Of course Windows Media Player does offer a simple yet robust music management interface, certain advanced features are sorely lacking. You can read the full review of MusicBee here.

Website Link: MusicBee Website

qBittorrent

 



The most popular torrent client used today is uTorrent. It used to be an open-source application which was later taken over by Bittorrent, Inc. Ever since that day, it comes with way too many advertisements which eat into the interface. Not to mention being extremely annoying to see the moment you try to get something done. If you download torrents a lot qBittorrent is a far better alternative to uTorrent. It offers a very similar interface which you can customize to your liking. Label support is handled far better, and I found the overall download speeds to be much better than uTorrent. It may be larger than uTorrent, but it contains no ads, and gives you much better features. It's also available on Mac, Linux, OS/2, and FreeBSD, besides Windows. Since it's open-source,you can rest assured that it doesn't contain any malware or embedded snooping tools to track your usage. Please note that I do not endorse the use of torrents for downloading illegal content from the internet.

Website Link: qBittorrent Website

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, this article was very helpful. I had been looking for a good music player for a long time. MusicBee is very efficient. :)

    ReplyDelete