Save Money with These 7 Really Useful Free Software Solutions
Buying a computer itself is expensive enough, but once you start adding extras like subscriptions to Microsoft Office, getting anything done starts to become very expensive!
If you look around, there are some great free alternatives which work like many of the standard programs you need day-to-day, chances are you just have not heard of them.
Here are some suggestions to get you going:
1. Free Video Calling and Conferencing
Since the unfortunate advent of Covid-19, lockdown, and millions of people worldwide only able to work from home or unable to visit family in the usual way, the video calling, and the conferencing scene has really taken off.
Platforms who previously did not have this option or ones that did not really push it have vastly improved their offerings.
Many people already used or at least were aware of Skype, but others have sprung up; House Party, WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Due, to name but a few.
All can be used on mobiles, tablets, and PCs and they are all generally reliable.
It is really about doing a little research online to choose which option suits you best and whether their free options suit your needs.
For example, Zoom allows free ‘meetings’ for a limited period of time for each meeting, meaning that if you want to ‘Zoom’ for longer, you need to either purchase a business version or swap around between your ‘Zoomers’ or log off and then back on again, every 40 minutes.
It often comes down to the company you and your friernds and family already have accounts with! Microsoft (Skype), Google (Due), etc!
2. Free Security Software: take a look at Avast
It is crucial that you protect yourself and your computer from hackers and any form of outside attack; you do not want your banking details and other sensitive information stolen.
Many computers now come with security software, but these are often stripped-down versions or expire after a short time.
Avast is a free program that we have found to be as reliable as any other security software we have tried.
Beware, however, that Avast and McAfee (another popular security solution) do not work together, and it is likely to be the same with others. You cannot run both, so we recommend you research your options thoroughly.
3. Free Media Player: VLC Player
We have not found a media file VLC can’t play!
It is a great program despite the slightly odd logo.
It also takes away all the hassle of converting media files or downloading dedicated programs.
One of the first on my download list when I get a new computer.
4. Free Alternative to MS Office: Google Docs
Just like Microsoft Office, Google Docs also lets you create and amend documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
One of its main benefits is that you can easily share documents, and even have two people working on them at the same time.
Built-in, you also have some free storage on Google Drive.
Whilst it’s a ‘cloud-based’ solution, rather than software that you download, there is still an ‘offline’ mode, so you do not always need to be connected to the internet to get work done.
5. Free PC Cleaner (keeping it running fast): CCleaner
If your PC is unusually slow this is a great program which is designed to clean out all the unused ‘crap’ (hence the C) clogging up your machine.
Unlike Avast it is not constantly running in the background; you simply use it whenever your computer needs a spring clean.
We have been a big fan of CCleaner for many years.
6. Free PDF Document Creator: PrimoPDF
A really simple and straightforward program that allows you to create PDFs from almost any kind of file.
PDF documents are a really great way of sharing your documents so in a way that they are not then changed by the recipient. For example, if you are sending out an invoice.
It achieved a 5-star rating from CNET.
7. Free Website Builder: WordPress
Stuck of things to do in the lockdown? How’s about start a blog, create a hoppy, or professional website!
If you want to create a website or blog and are reasonably computer literate WordPress is the platform. WordPress.com will host your website free of charge – the URL will be [yourwebsitename].wordpress.com – and there are many free of charge ‘themes’ to choose from.
This is a great way to experiment with creating a website without committing to web hosting and design costs.
Finding Other Free Stuff
With so much free downloadable, or cloud-based software available there is a free version of almost everything.
We recommend doing some research and reading reviews on sites like CNET to check for any problems. Software that is regularly updated is particularly useful as this should iron out any unexpected glitches.
Also, The Money Saving Expert website by Martin Lewis has a comprehensive list of free downloads but here are some of our favorites.
Please remember that different software often slows down or disrupts other programs, so we recommend you double-check before you download whether the software is compatible.
A simple Google search should tell you whether you might run into difficulties.
Why Have We Written This Post?
As the old saying goes “a penny saved is like a penny made”.
We understand how important money is for people, especially in these very difficult times; so, we share a few ideas for saving a few pounds here and there.