In an entirely mobile world, we have almost abandoned the desktop. However, the real work of your PC, even infrequent, requires particular software to get the most out of its abilities.
The software can cost a fortune, but still, there are some good free programs that have been in demand of numerous users for decades, and today’s offerings are pretty powerful. Software developers do their best to make their products more accessible for different people worldwide.
So, with multiple options and easy access, there are thousands of great software choices that will cost you nothing.
Back-Up & Synchronization
Once you drag and drop files in your Dropbox folder on the desktop, they will be immediately uploaded to the cloud and synchronized with any other device linked to your account. The files are easy to access both via apps and the web. If you accidentally delete any file, you can use the website to restore it. Dropbox provides 2GB of free online storage.
OneDrive is considered the most flexible and universal sync and backup tool on the market. It’s the official (and inbuilt) cloud storage for users of Microsoft Office and Windows 10. OneDrive provides 5GB of free online storage. If you subscribe to Microsoft 365, the storage extends up to 1TB per user.
By default, you get 5GB free from IDrive to back up files from all your devices. If that’s enough, you’ll find this service covers most of your needs.
The reputable browser Firefox remains the choice of numerous users worldwide. That’s because it’s highly customizable, good at security, privacy, and performance, and supports plenty of new options.
Chrome still occupies the top position as a browser to have on your desktop, especially if you’re a fan of Google products. However, it’s probably not the browser you need if you’re seeking privacy, even if Chrome is going to stop tracking cookies in the near future.
The first C actually stands for Crap! Get it and launch it from time to time. CCleaner removes irrelevant files that overload the OS and browsers. It can even remove some annoying files you didn’t think you could get rid of.
Skype goes hand in hand with video conferencing. The service is hugely functional, available on every platform you can think of, and offers more communication options than any of its rivals. For free, you can make multiple video calls between Skype users, tet-a-tet, or with groups. Besides, its real-time translation ability hits even the most sophisticated user.
If you need to host an online conference between you and 100 mates, Zoom can enable them all to view everything you’re showing for up to 40 minutes from any device, even a smartphone. It will also offer direct one-on-one HD video meetings. Moreover, you can chat with other users infinitely long.
You can access Outlook.com – perfect, minimalist, consumer-oriented webmail, complete with OneDrive integration if you’ve obtained a Microsoft account. The most significant features include Sweeps, so you can, for example, delete all messages from one sender at once. The version for iOS is incredibly cool.
The super-popular option for individuals and businesses, Gmail features a straightforward interface and works with all third-party email apps you can think of. Besides, it can boast the best spam filter you have ever used.
Mozilla’s email client still has all the features that made it great years ago: account setup wizards, multiple languages, hundreds of extensions, a tabbed interface, convenient search, junk mail, and phishing tools, and the option for a customized email address with your own choice of a domain name.
File Recovery and Deletion
Recuva is a must-have tool on your desktop: it’s the key to the restoration of a lost file. Though the tool creates miracles, you should install it in advance (before potential file loss). Another advantage is that Recuva is portable, so you have the option to launch it from a USB thumb drive.
TestDisk offers a lot more options apart from finding lost files. It can restore an entire lost hard drive segment. It’s open-source, so it might not boast a fancy interface as you’re used to having, but it’s undeniably powerful. TestDisk goes hand in hand with its companion tool PhotoRec that helps recover lost pictures.
The opposite of file recovery is total deletion. Eraser does that, scrubbing clean the files from your drive with no chance of coming back to overload your PC. Use it to schedule a wipe of the free space on the disk or just to empty your recycle bin.
The former computer science project is now one of the best independent FTP (file transfer protocol) clients around. It’s a must-have tool for users who regularly transfer multiple files to a server and need that to be done fast.
Windows’ ability to copy files between drives and folders is just fine. However, TeraCopy takes over that job and brings it to perfection — it’s faster, better looking, provides more feedback, and can protect from various transfer errors.
One of the biggest services for uploading and downloading torrent files, µTorrent can work independently or together with web or mobile accounts for remote downloads. There are web-based options and desktop options for multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android for more experienced users.
File Viewers and Converters
IrfanView has been in the top position in file viewing for over twenty years. It views multiple types of files, but it can also convert them, batch operation changes, and even play media. Multiple extensions make it even more powerful.
With an improved version that works across various platforms, XnView MP can manage multiple actions, like batch file converting and support for 500 image formats. However, it offers a free version only for educational or private purposes.
FastStone Image Viewer
View, convert and edit your images with this fast and user-friendly free tool. It supports plenty of image formats, plus a ton of digital camera RAW image formats. Another great advantage is that it has companion apps for screenshots and photo resizing.
Graphics and Imaging
Adobe Photoshop Express
When you don’t need the full power of Photoshop, but still want Adobe on your desktop, the user-oriented Express version is here to help you with the basics of photo editing and sharing. It can manage multiple transformations of your images, plus has photo filters and, of course, in-app purchases to extend functions.
GIMP remains among the best free image editing tools and for good reason. It includes all the high-end instruments you could imagine for playing with graphics and, apparently, costs 100 percent less than Photoshop.
If expensive software that lets you fly across the globe doesn’t cover all your needs, then try Google Earth Pro for the desktop with advanced attributes like distance measuring and global guided trips. Everything is absolutely free. Besides, it also comes in web and mobile versions now.
If you are keen on music and looking for something of good quality, then Spotify is just for you. It provides millions of song possibilities and podcasts on every possible device you can think of and with offline playback. However, the free version is ad-supported. If you want to get an ad-free version, you may subscribe to the premium version for $10 per month.
Kodi has spawned from the love of the media. It represents a media center and entertainment hub that brings all your digital media into an exciting and user-friendly package. Run the software in one place and spread all your media among other devices – it’s the best option for a home media center.
Being a representative of the new class of messaging services, Telegram offers easy communication and incredible security. Send texts, files, pictures, GIFs, and create channels to attract a new audience.
One of the most engaging mobile messaging services pays much attention to security, using its open-source protocol to do end-to-end encryption. Though it might not be as cool as some other services, it enables you to send photos and videos and make group messaging. And it has a Windows desktop client for those who are deskbound.
Evernote is your online assistant for your daily routine. Scanning, typing, editing, whatever, just put it in Evernote to find later. Transform the notes into Notebooks, then get access to them on multiple platforms for free.
Once a part of Microsoft Office, the OneNote has become an exciting free independent tool for note-taking. It is still compatible with Office, syncs data across all platforms, and has online access via Office.com, with storage on OneDrive.
The top tool among other software services to take control of other computers is undeniably TeamViewer. Almost everything you need is free for private use: desktop sharing, file transferring, even chatting with other users. It’s easy as a piece of cake. Take control of a remote computer via a web connection with the app, or use a Chrome browser with the TeamViewer extension.
If you really worry about your security while web surfing, a VPN might not be enough. The Tor Browser works so that no one knows what sites you visit or where you are. It guarantees you’ll be safe, whatever you do.