Frugal Computer Software

Adding software to your computer to make it a versatile and very useful machine can be, well, expensive, sometimes VERY expensive.   In many cases there are alternative software programs, freeware, that are nearly as good as the popular commercial versions and can be found online and downloaded for free.  Here are some popular freeware titles that you might find useful.


Photo/Image Editing

Buying software to edit photos can get expensive fast.  There are many options on the market, some with really great features, but these can be quite pricey.  One alternative that is available for free is called Gimp.  Gimp has many features that can be found in the more pricey commercial varieties.  Some features include red-eye removal, despeckle, layers (so you can add photo frames or combine images), and effects such as blur, glow, lights & shadows, cartoon effect, and animation.  Gimp is well worth downloading and giving a try.  You can get it here.



With all the Anti-virus programs available it can be confusing to know which one to choose, and with most available only with subscription plans, you can count on paying a fee at least once a year.  There is, however, an alternative that offers a free version of their anti-virus software, Avast.  Avast has received top ratings from trusted sites such as pcworld and cnet.  It has a user interface that is feature filled, but still easy to navigate.  You can download the latest version of avast here.


Office Documents

Let’s face it, who wants to fork over hundreds of dollars to use some of todays top office software for use at home?  Well, you don’t have to.  The alternative that is the top free competitor to todays office suites is OpenOffice.  OpenOffice offers a word processor called Writer, a spread sheet program called Calc, a program to create presentations called Impress, as well as a database program, a math program, and a graphics editor.  OpenOffice has received excellent ratings and comments from cnet, pcmag, and computerworld.  OpenOffice is a completely free, unlimited use software suite.  You can download OpenOffice here.


Computer Maintenance

Keeping your computer free of malware and viruses is only part of the overall solution to maintaining a healthy PC.  The system registry also needs to be kept uncluttered with unused files, and keeping your temporary files clean can also improve performance if the files have become too large and cluttered.  There are, of course, many options available that can be paid for that will help do the job, but there is also free software available that is also very effective, CCleaner.  CCleaner is quite effective at securely deleting files from your computer, such as temporary internet files, and at keeping your system registry clean.  You can download it here.

File Recovery

So you accidentally deleted a file and removed it from the recycle bin, what do you do, it’s gone, right?  Well, maybe not.  When you delete a file using windows delete, it isn’t actually deleted, only the reference to it is deleted.  Enter Recuva.  Recuva is a file recovery program that can help you recover deleted files.  It is from Piriform, the same makers of CCleaner, and you can download it here.


Reduced Price Software for Students

Even though not free, there is software available at greatly reduced prices for college students.  Microsoft offers huge discounts on many of their software titles, including Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Office for students (at the time of this writing), and there may be others available as well.  You can find Microsoft student deals here.





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    Thanks for the list:) Also, Adobe offers discounts to students and teachers that are sometimes 80% off retail. You can pick up a copy of CS5 (extended version) for less than $200

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