There are thousands of free programs available on the internet. The list below is not a complete directory, rather it is a list of FREE programs that are highly useful and well written. As a rule, the less programs you have installed, the better your machine will run. However the FREE software listed, with few exceptions, are small and lightweight meaning they do not heavily weigh-down your CPU or processor.
CCleaner or Crap Cleaner is an extremely fast hard drive cleaner. Have you ever used UNDO? Of course you have, most any program periodically saves temp versions of the document you’re working on so that you can go back if you mess up. Those versions stay on your hard drive in Temp folders. Also, any website you visit downloads images, scripts all kinds of…well, crap on your hard drive. Use CCleaner regularly to free up hard drive space and keep things running clean.
CCleaner also has a registry cleaner and program uninstaller. It’s a favorite amongst professional graphic artists and video editors.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot SD, still one of the best anti-spyware, malware and adware programs, and still free. Spybot’s advanced features include Immunizing your computer from known threat sites, control of your system start-up and running processes and control of your hosts file.
Ad-Aware – by Lavasoft
No one program can defeat spyware, malware or adware alone. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware is the perfect compliment to Spybot Search and Destroy. What one misses the other catches.
PC Inspector – File Recovery, Smart Recovery
As mentioned in an earlier post, files are not actually deleted from your computer, they’re moved to a different location and written over. PC Inspector’s File Recovery and Smart Recovery can recover accidentally deleted files. Has the Smart Card in your camera mistakenly been re-formatted? If so, Smart Recovery can recover your pictures and data files. It’s an amazing FREE program.
Amp Font Viewer
Ever want a seperate graphical representation to see what your fonts look like? Amp Font Viewer does that and more. Fonts are fun, but can also severely slow down your system if you have too many. With Amp Font Viewer, you can temporarily install the font for the application you’re working on, then delete it. It’s cool.
Irfanview – Image Editor/Viewer
Ever want to “Photoshop” an image, but can’t afford Photoshop? Irfanview is an excellent alternative.
Audacity – Audio Editor
Want to record your voice or convert your old cassette tapes to MP3’s? Audacity is a multi-featured audio recorder and editor. It supports multiple formats and has the ability to change speed and pitch, mix sounds together add effects and more.
Open Office Productivity Suite
If you can’t afford Microsoft Office, but want to create files that are compatible with MS Office, there is no better tool than Open Office. Unbelievably, OpenOffice (OO) offers Word Processor (Writer) , Spreadsheet (Calc) and Powerpoint-like (Impress) programs all for FREE.