Software doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are many fine low-cost and free alternatives to even the biggest and most popular software packages. I use and can recommend a number of them.
In the following table, the software on the left is perfectly fine software, but the prices may be out of your budget. The software on the right is free. (Note that much of this software is available for a variety of platforms—Windows, Linux, and Mac.)
|You Pay For This||But Instead You Can Get This For Free|
|Microsoft Office||OpenOffice (has a word processor, spreadsheet, a PowerPoint-like program, a database, and a graphics program); compatible with Office files.|
|Microsoft Outlook (email program)||Thunderbird. ‘Nuff said.|
|Media players||iTunes and VideoLAN (for many operating systems).|
|Quicken or some other accounting program||GnuCash (a full accounting program). I loved and used Quicken for about twenty years, but I converted to GnuCash last year to save money and am quite happy with it.|
|SmartFTP or some other paid-for FTP program||FileZilla (elegant and easy). SmartFTP used to be free. Then they decided not only to start charging for it, which was their right, but they also decided to retroactively charge for the versions they had given out for free years before. (If you didn’t pay, you could no longer play.) Exit SmartFTP, enter FileZilla, which anyway is a much better program.|
|Microsoft OneNote||WikidPad, TiddlyWiki, Zoho Notebook (an online product), Treepad Lite, EverNote (has free and paid-for versions), ToDo List, many others. I use ToDo list but have taken a look at many of the Wiki-style notebookish programs.|
|Adobe Photoshop (I use this instead of free versions, but that is because I need the full power of Photoshop for my work)||Google’s wonderful Picasa, plus ten other free alternatives, including Adobe Photoshop Express.|
|Adobe Acrobat Professional (again, I use this because I need itfor work)||A long list of free alternatives.|
|WinZip||I love WinZip, but here is a free alternative: 7-Zip.|
|Norton or McAfee or other anti-virus software||SpyBot Search & Destroy, CCleaner, AVG Anti-Virus, Microsoft Security Essentials (yes, really!). Note that you should never rely on just one anti-virus program.|
Free Anyway, But Use Instead Of…
Not Free, But Low-Cost and Worth It
Here are a few programs I use all the time. Most of them you register for once, at a very low cost, and then you can can use it (and its upgrades) forever.
TextPad. This is THE text editor as far as I am concerned. A replacement for Notepad.