In these challenging times it is useful to know that some things do come for free. When it comes to computers, software and the internet then ‘free’ can mean risks and false promises so it’s useful to know about real free software products that can be safely downloaded and installed on your PC.
Free software, commonly termed free-ware or open-source software, should not be confused with shareware, trialware or demonstration software. Avoid websites that claim to have 1000’s of software titles for free – especially if they would normally be paid for products. Also be aware that not all ‘free’ software can be used for business purposes. The most common one I find is AVG Free on business machines – which is illegal – the free edition is for personal home use only.
If you have a machine that runs a Microsoft operating system such as windows XP or windows 7 then you do get free programs such as Internet Explorer, WordPad and Paint but after that you generally need to buy additional programs.
OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org), has been around for several years now and offers a good alternative to Microsoft Office for those who need professional level word processor and spreadsheet facilities. You can create, edit and read documents in Microsoft Office formats and it has a built-in PDF save option which can be useful when sending files in a format that anyone can read without needing paid-for software.
Desktop Publishing and Photo Editing
Serif (www.serif.com) have also been around for many years offering various titles such as PagePlus for desktop publishing (business flyers, brochures, birthday invites, Christmas cards, etc), PhotoPlus (photo cropping, red-eye, recolouring, etc) and DrawPlus . In the last few years they have made older versions of these titles available for free.
The free editions can be found at www.freeserifsoftware.com
Backing up your files is very important whether it’s your family photos or your business invoices and emails. Microsoft Windows 7, and some windows versions before it, can be setup to backup your emails, photos and files but some people prefer more flexibility.
syncback (freeware edition) http://www.2brightsparks.com/downloads.html is a good option with plenty of options to cater for most people without needing to go for the paid-for editions.