Free Software To Soup Up The Home Computer

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes about how to obtain a degree in accounting. She welcomes your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at gmail.com

These days, we need to pinch pennies everywhere we can.  And, because we’ve all had to get creative about where and how we work, your family’s home computer may be more important now than ever before.  If you are working from home, or just want to load up your computer with great software, you can do it for very little.

Gone are the days when you had to head off to buy expensive boxed software at your local computer store.  Now you can simply download what you need and some of it is free of charge.  That’s right.  If you haven’t investigated, there is tons of high-functionality software out there to do just about anything.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Productivity Suite. If you think Microsoft’s Office Suite is not in your budget, why not check out OpenOffice.org from Sun? This community-developed suite offers all the same applications for FREE to anyone who wants to download them. You’ll save hundreds!
  • Photo Editing. Photoshop is great and all but it is insanely expensive and has a steep learning curve. Check out GIMP for Windows. It’s a great replacement and will cost you nothing.
  • Virus Protection. AVG Anti-virus. This software is highly-rated and notable for how well it protects your computer. It is not stripped-down and offers regular patches and updates, just like the expensive versions.
  • Time Tracking/Billing. Working from home gets tedious when it comes to bookkeeping. If you have clients and need to provide invoices for your work, FreshBooks is a fabulous QuickBooks killer. It is very user friendly (something QuickBooks is not) and offers much of the same functionality.
  • Business tools. Zoho.com provides databases, spreadsheets and word processing with nice functionality and no downloads. It’s all stored online.

You get the idea.  If you ever need software for your computer, check online for free versions before buying anything.  All software is not created equal, so be sure to look for reviews of any software in which you are interested to avoid malware (malicious software) or unscrupulous Internet phishing.

Comments

  1. I’m starting to try out Google Docs more. I like that I can work in Google Docs, and that I can share easily with others, and convert them to MS Office documents and spreadsheets as well. Plus, my work is easily accessible from anywhere with Internet.

  2. I can vouch for GIMP 100%. I’ve been using it at work for a few months now and it’s basically Photoshop with a different look. But it does everything Photoshop can do—I haven’t run into any limitations.

    I also have OpenOffice, but the only problem I have with it is it’s such a system hog. If you have a relatively old computer like me, it’ll take a while to boot up and it might be kind of choppy. But still, it does everything Office can do.

    I also have AVG (I’m not kidding!) and again, maybe it’s my computer, but I feel like it slows my system down quite a bit. But it does work to detect viruses. As for spyware, I would recommend Spybot Search and Destroy—great piece of software.

  3. Wow – I use all of those, except Zoho, which I hadn’t heard of before.

    GIMP has a lot of online tutorials, since it’s not quite as user-friendly as Photoshop.

    And I’m really glad a friend recommended Freshbooks to me, otherwise I’d be doing all my billing and time-tracking using spreadsheets.

  4. Question!!!! Question!!! Question!!!!

    I love these. I use a few already but I have a question about two. Frugal Dad is the Zoho and freshbooks free only for a certatin amount of time???????? I downloaded them and love what they have to offer. But afraid to start using them and then find out in 15 or 30 days that the trial period ended. Could you please find this out. I am starting a business and dont have the money to spend on this software. Thank you very much

  5. Thanks mucho! Will look into a couple of these.
    I can vouch for the AVG – great protection, which I use along with spybot and adware. Yes, it does run a cycle when I boot up, but it takes less than a minute for it’s updates, and that’s on a slow connection.

  6. Lots of good free software out there; here are a couple more extensive lists, sorted by category:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_alternatives_to_proprietary_software
    http://www.fosswin.com/

    Be aware that the “online” options (Google Docs, Zoho, etc…) will normally require you to register first, and may not be available if your Internet connection is not working. (Although I believe Google Docs does have an “offline” component, I have not tried it.)

    Also good to do a little checking first, not all free software is created equally. :)

  7. I checked out FreshBooks for my dad’s business and the free version only lets you have 3 clients…GIMP is awesome, though it’s not *exactly* the same as Photoshop/etc. You can use Photoshop/PSP brushes with Gimp, which is nice. I like the Open Office Present (or whatever the slideshow is called). And AVG works well for me. I can’t stand the idea of paying for a virus/spyware program.

    Let’s look at free personal finance programs next. Any good desktop ones that are free? And pretty? Gnucash works but it’s not exactly user-friendly in my opinion. The online ones are usually nice-looking, but I’ve tried a lot of them…none of them synch up to my bank correctly. And I know you can manually add transactions with Wesabi but it always, always, always changes my credit card debt to a positive account…For right now, I’m using a site called like…Money Crunchin’ or something like that.

  8. I’d like to add Office Live Workspace to this great list. It lets you stores several file types online, allowing for easy access from any computer with an internet connection. For a full list of features take a look at the following link: http://workspace.officelive.com/LearnMore
    Cheers,
    Jeff
    Office Live Outreach Team

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