A is for antivirus; Z is for zip: your free software A-Z
By Dirk Averesch Jan 22, 2012, 3:06 GMT
Berlin - Have you just spent your last few cents on an ultrabook? Taken out a small loan for a gaming PC? You might not have any money left over for software, but that's no problem, since there are some good programmes out there that don't cost a thing.
After all, without software, hardware is just a body without a soul. And a lot of today's better bargains aren't just free, they're updated and improved upon regularly, sometimes by solo impresarios, other times by whole communities of developers. Here's a list of some of these programmes, from A to Z. Almost all are free.
Antivirus software: There's no good way to run a PC without virus protection. Basic protection comes free from outfits like AVG Anti-Virus Free, Avast Free Antivirus or Avira Free Antivirus.
Audio and video editing: If you want to edit or record audio samples, you're well served with Audacity. Avidemux, a freeware programme, is good for video editing.
Burning: CDBurner XP burns CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and more without problems.
CD Ripper: Cdex reads CDs and turns their files into MP3s or other formats. For information about the performer, album and song title, it accesses the Compact Disc Database and grabs information from there.
Cleaning Up: C Cleaner knows no mercy when it comes to cleaning up temporary data files or forgotten Registry entries. It ruthlessly cleans unusable data from your computer.
Data Security: Regular backups protect from a total loss of data. Cobian Backup is a tool for automating the process. Practically, after the first backup, subsequent ones only secure the data of files that have been changed.
Deletion and Recovery: It's not enough to throw files into the wastebasket if you want to be sure they're truly gone. Freeware Eraser is much more thorough. Conversely, PC Inspector File Recovery offers good chances of recovering data deleted in error.
E-Mail Client: There are more choices out there than Outlook, especially since that programme is usually only available as part of expensive business and professional Office suites. Mozilla's Thunderbird is one alternative. A tip: the add-on Lightning gives Thunderbird a calendar function.
Encryption: Open source software TrueCrypt doesn't just encrypt individual files on a computer, but entire drives or USB memory sticks. If the entire system partition is encrypted, the operating system can only be started up with a password.
Graphics: Photoshop is often the first stop for picture editing, which is reflected in its price. Gimp provides a freeware alternative that can hold its own even with Adobe's software.
Media player: VLC Media Player recognizes almost all video formats and can also stream data from the net. If you're looking for an audio player with a lot of functions, check out Foobar 2000.
Messenger: Miranda is a multi-messenger that bundles together various services like Yahoo, ICQ, MSN, AIM and Jabber into one interface.
Office suites: Since the end of 2009, former members of the OpenOffice Project have been developing the free LibreOffice service, independent from the software giant Oracle. LibreOffice is more up to date and secure, since there has been no development on OpenOffice for a good year.
Password managers: KeePass 2 Portable encrypts and stores passwords. It's a freeware programme that can be carried around on a USB stick. It only provides the passwords after entry of a master password.
PDF Reader and Writer: PDF Xchange Viewer is a speedy alternative to Adobe Reader and offers many extra functions, ranging from a screenshot to notes and the ability to mark up documents. To create your own PDFs, FreePDF offers some good service. Note, the interpreter programme Ghostscript needs to be installed first.
Photo Viewer: It's no fun looking at pictures with Windows. If you want a fast image viewer that can be expanded with plug-ins, try IrfanView.
System Diagnosis: Which memory module is working in your computer, what's the name of the graphics chip and which programmes have been installed? System Spec can provide detailed answers to these questions.
Web Browser: Internet browsers tend to be free. The main rule is finding one that works for you: whether it's popular Firefox, with its endless add-ons; slimmed down Opera, with its integrated email client; Google's snappy Chrome; or the traditional Internet Explorer.