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My Top 5 List of Free Software Programs for Your Consideration September 7, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Photos, Reviews, Software, Technology.

Computers are expensive. If you can find a free software program that works as well as one that costs you money, why not at least give it a try?

I’ve put together a Top 5 list of my favorite free software programs that I use right now.

1. Openoffice.org

The OpenOffice suite of programs will serve as a useful alternative to Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher, Access and PowerPoint. You can even open existing Microsoft Office files in OpenOffice. The only software equivalent it lacks is one comparable to Outlook. There’s always Outlook Express which is free but doesn’t have as many features as Outlook.

Microsoft Office Program OpenOffice Equivalent
Word (word processing) Writer
Excel (spreadsheets) Calc
PowerPoint (slideshows) Impress
Access (databases) Base
Publisher (newsletters, flyers) Draw

2. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition by Grisoft

This little gem is a good, free Anti-Virus program. Keep in mind, it is only an Anti-Virus program. These days companies like McAfee and Symantec are selling all-in-one security suites. They pack their suites with anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls, spam blockers, email scanning, anti-phishing and identity protection.

That’s overkill for me and the amount of computer resources (memory, CPU) these programs demand of a computer is ridiculous. It slows down the performance on many a PC.

I just want anti-Virus protection. Grisoft’s Anti-Virus scans for viruses and downloads periodic updates to keep my PC protected from the latest viruses.

NOTE: Those of you with children who use your computer would be wise to invest in a more comprehensive all-in-one security suite.

3. Picasa from Google

This is a great free software program to help you manage, edit and share your digital photographs. It is packed with features and is quite user friendly. It works well for basic photo editing, like reducing red eye, but won’t satisfy those of you looking for more sophisticated editing tools.

4. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware SE Personal & SpyBot Search & Destroy

These are two separate programs for detecting and removing spyware. I chose to list them both because I think it’s a good idea to use two programs to detect and remove spyware. They’re free to use and regular updates are available. In my opinion, Ad-Aware is more user-friendly for the average PC user. If you only want one, go with Ad-Aware.

5. Google’s Web Accelerator

This software helps improve your web browsing experience by helping web pages load more quickly. In my B.C. years (Before Children), my wife and I could afford the luxury of cable internet service. However, diapers are expensive (especially when you’ve got twins) so we switched to the slower DSL service and saved some money.

I tried out the web accelerator and it helped. It won’t boost your DSL service to cable internet speeds, but it does seem to help. Maybe it is just psychological. It also keeps track of how much time it has saved you while web surfing, which is fun to see.

I‘d like to know what you think. Are there any free software programs that you find useful?

I look forward to your comments.



1. John McCall - September 8, 2007

I highly recommend AVG .It’s Free and it works,,Well.
I switched to it last year from Norton.
John McCall

2. Hell Noire - September 10, 2007

I personally use the all-in-one free anti-virus Avast! It’s a very nice program and doesn’t look as much like AVG while controling more. I also use A-squared free, since it helped protect what get past the net.

3. Mike - September 10, 2007

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve heard of Avast but not A-squared. I’ll keep those in mind should I need them in the future.

4. N T Balanarayan - November 3, 2007

You left out Gimp (substitute for Photoshop) and Blender 3D for 3D modelling and animation

5. Aaron Paxson - November 7, 2007

I, too, recommend OpenOffice. Also, it is worth noting, that OpenOffice and Pentaho are teaming up for including advanced Business Enterprise Reporting tools into OpenOffice 2.3.

Can’t wait for that! Think Microsoft Office and Business Objects will ever make a deal? Heh! No way.

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