John's list of recommended freeware applications

(updated Sept 2015)

A WORD OF CAUTION

Many installers are now using the installation of freeware to add the ASK toolbar or similar by default, although you CAN refuse. READ THE SMALL PRINT! If you DO have strange unwanted toolbars on your browser Junkware removal tool (JRT) will take them off.

Free Operating System!

UBUNTU: * * Having tried Linux I will never be without some version of it - UBUNTU or Linux Mint. Free, powerful, easy to use, it can run from a bootable cd, hard drive, a memory card or usb memory stick - so you can carry your computing environment around with you and use it on any PC! Its fast, compact (under 2G, including open office!) and a lot like windows to use; able to run most common applications, including those below and also many open-source (free) apps that WONT run on Windows. It NEEDS no anti-virus software or malware detectors. You get free updates and a new release every 6 months. And you can put it on as many PC's as you like - whereas you pay for every PC thats running Windows - and again when you need to update.

Linux Mint is probably the easiest for Windows users to use

Portable applications

Sometimes its best not to install apps unless you need them frequently. For "one off" applications check my list of FREE "portable" applications that run WITHOUT installation so dont "clog up" your machine.

On-line security:

Anti-virus and firewall:

Effective but some versions slow
very good but be careful not to install unwanted apps during installation
A stand-alone virus remover
Immunizes against Cryptolocker and some other viruses.

Anti-malware:   (run one of these about every month)

very powerful but not easy to interpret results.
Remove adware, toolbars, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs)
Full thorough scan takes time - run it when the PC is free
good scanner has loads of system analysis tools as well
has a portable version. not the fastest
can be used without software installation to scan for malware and clean infected computers

Internet and Email:

Fast and reliable
my favourite browser
Excellent and easy to configure. Good add-ons.
Capable email client with useful feature and easy to set up.

Free online email & webmail:  useful for registrations etc so you don't get spam

Easy as webmail or POP3 with the added benefit of a personal information manager
Great webmail
recently hacked! change your passwords

Office applications - word processor, spreadsheet, calculator, drawing, presentation and PIM:

MS compatible word processor, spreadsheet and presentations - also for Linux & Android
Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base; works on all common computers
great page layout, desktop publishing, etc - but dont use the web designer.
online office application – documents spreadsheets and presentations and can create pdf files.

Graphics: Drawing and diagrams

You will need to choose based on your own applications as they all have strengths and weaknesses.

(cant save as .bmp etc just in own format)
Dia  (flowcharts and other diagrams)
a bit like Visio, can save as png
good for flowcharts and similar diagrams
CAD package:many image export formats
Easy CAD package: good online support
Much more powerful but also more complicated to use: export to dwg or pdf only

Graphics: Creating and managing images (painting)

one of the most powerful image editing tools
creating images and icons and editing photographs
Quite new but well respected paint program
easy to use and reasonably powerful

Graphics: Adjusting photographs and printing

Photo catalog manager with image adjustment and processing tools
fast compact and easy file viewer - view almost ANY common file type!
"virtual printer" allows 2 or 4 pages on 1 page. Other good features.

Audio: ripping, formats, playing, sound recording editing and analysis

Possibly the best sound editing program
rip tracks even from damaged cd's
another ripping and tagging program
LAME stand-alone MP3 encoder
Needed by almost all software to produce mp3 files.
change and retag mp3 tracks
open source media player - good for playing back music mp3's
Create and copy cd's and dvd's inc blu-ray
CD/DVD burning and file ripping to iso, mp3, etc

Maintenance and repair: Registry cleaners and other utilities

Produces a manifest of hardware and software on the PC (portable)
Much superior to windows disk defrag tool
Loads of great tools to maintain your PC. NEW file search utility!
a lot of very sophisticated diagnostic utilities
a versitile utility to synchronize files between two folders or devices
monitors computer hardware temperature, load and voltages - and maintains a log file in .csv format
Real-time monitoring of hard drive
stress test CPU and RAM; portable
easy to use, best free partitioning tool. BE AWARE ANY partitioning can lose data; backup first
Install common applications and keep them updated

Backups and recovery

AOMEI backupper home edition. Easy to use
Archives to 7zip format. Not as easy to use as NTBackup. Can open with 7zip.
Back up firefox bookmarks and thunderbird emails and profiles
hard drive imaging (like Norton Ghost)
very flexible; clone drive, system backups etc
clone disk, system backup etc - very easy to use. Excellent and powerful
clone disk, reset disk, system backup file recovery etc - all from a live (Linux) CD

General utilities

Zip tools (compressing and decompressing downloaded files – ESSENTIAL)
get 7-zip * cos its open source, fast and handles most formats including msi (Microsoft installer) and iso (on cd's)  http://www.7-zip.org/

PDF documents: reader and creator
Adobe Reader is free and the most compatible; however it's big and slow.  However others can have compatibility issues.
Sumatra PDF Viewer * is extremely compact and very fast to load, but has few other features, while
Nitro PDF Reader * supports editing pdf documents. Also adds a printer driver so you can make your own pdf's.
Foxit PDF Reader supports editing pdf documents, and offers a pdf reading capability for your browser
Ableword is a new program that combines word processor and PDF functions and also supports converting pdf files to a word format

PDF Creator *(Sourceforge) installs as a virtual printer that outputs to a .pdf file
http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/files/

Website editing: HTML code
Arachnophilia * http://www.arachnoid.com/arachnophilia/index.html  (a java application) and
Dreamweaver * - not free (not even cheap) but by far the best.

 

IF ALL ELSE FAILS:

Ultimate boot cd http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/download.html OR Windows ultimate boot cd http://www.ubcd4win.com/

HIRENS boot cd: http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd a collection of very useful tools - get the latest version!

UBUNTU a free and powerful operating system that can run from a bootable 2G USB flash drive to test your system or copy files when windows is dead!