FREE Software! From head to toe, let’s find the best free software!
Unfortunately though, I am still going to recommend Windows. Not only because statics indicate that over 80% of users are on Windows, that is not why. It is because it works. It works with domains (work environments if you didn’t know this), it works with software, it generally works when you need it to. Even though right before this, my Windows 8 laptop locked up for the first time since I got it 2 months ago, a quick reboot and I was back in action. As far as the price, it is usually included with the PC anyway, so it comes out almost free. I rarely see where you can purchase a PC for less if it does not have windows.
Now that your computer has an OS, it’s time to secure it! Since more than 80% are still using Windows, let’s look at the free windows options. One of the popular ones is Avast! I have tried Avast and it seemed to work. Although I once noticed a major flaw. It had been installed on my dad’s computer and he is not one to check things very often. I happen to use the computer and happen to notice that it said the virus definitions were outdated, and when I looked, it was from almost a year ago! No matter how well an Antivirus is, if the definitions are out of date, you have no chance. I also felt that it was more resource intensive than it needed to be. This is why I chose AVG to run on my computers. They offer a free and a free trial of the premium, I do not suggest doing the free trial. I did, I saw nothing that benefited me, and then I had to uninstall and re-install at the end of the trial.
Word Processor and Office Applications
So the computer is online, and secure, time to start using it! For a free word processor, you could use Windows’ WordPad (which seems to have a nice new interface), but I have heard great things about both OpenOffice and LibreOffice. I have heard better things about LibreOffice, so that is what I tried. I had installed the trial of Office with my new laptop (after using it for years on previous computers, school computers, work computers, etc.) and I did not find myself using it very much. That’s why, when the trial ran out (although, nice of Microsoft, you could still use the product, but it was “limited), I installed Libre. Upon opening it, it looks a bit more “linuxy” or “older”, but right away, I can tell that it has everything that I need. It can even open .docx which older versions of Microsoft Word can’t! So far, I see no reason to pay for Microsoft Office. You could also use something like Google Docs, Apple’s cloud programs or Microsofts Cloud Software. Out of the 3, I prefer Google Docs and I do use that a lot for items that I want to be able to access from anywhere (including my phone). However, if you are planted at your own computer doing work, I highly recommend a real word processor.
Now that you are up and running, I HIGHLY recommend a form of backup! If you want to go free, you could use something in the cloud like Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box.net, etc. This is fine if it is not irreplaceable information (some financial information, pictures, videos, etc.) For that, I highly recommend a true backup. I use Backblaze, and for under $4 month I get unlimited storage. For people who are really paranoid of “the cloud”, you could also do a local backup either to your PC (Is the cloud going to break at the same time as your PC?) or to an external hard drive (do you really still want to use one of these?). If you have a MAC, you could also use Time Machine or AirPort Time Machine if you want to avoid plugging in. For PC, you could also get a NAS (Network Attached Storage Device) to use wireless, or find a router that has one built in.
What else do you need? I am trying to think and looking through my applications, and I don’t see much. A lot of the stuff you need these days is already built into the website (as I write this in WordPress). I guess I am using Google Chrome, although I am not a big fan of it right now. I see it as more of a lesser of 2 evils, in that it has the ability to auto-translate and works better with LastPass, but I have found it very resource intensive and unstable (isn’t that the opposite of the pitch?).
How about a free game? I recommend you download Starcraft 2 from Blizzard. As it was around 10-15GB, it is going to take a long time, but you know you are getting the real thing! Yes, FREE! There are some limitations, but I sure am happy with it! I also have some for free on my personal website if you would like to play those click here!
More Later – JP (2/24/14)