Practical tips to help you improve your credit rating and avoid expensive high interest loans
Computers are expensive enough before you start adding the extras like Microsoft Office you need in order to actually get anything done. There are, however, great free alternatives to many of the standard programs needed on a day-to-day basis.
Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website has a huge comprehensive list of free downloads but here are some of our favourites. Please remember that different software often slows down or disrupts other programs so we recommend you double-check before you download whether the software is compatible. A simple Google search should tell you whether you might run into difficulties.
Martin Lewis covers the multitude of alternatives for Microsoft Office in great detail so we’re not going to do the same here. However, there are enough good quality programs out there that unless Office comes free with your computer you’d be wise to have a proper look around before you buy.
Many computers now come with security software but these are often stripped down versions or expire after a short time. Avast is a free program that we have found to be as reliable as any other security software we’ve tried. Beware, however, that Avast and McAfee don’t work together and I imagine it’s the same with others. You cannot run both so we recommend you research your options thoroughly.
I don’t think I’ve found a media file VLC can’t play. It’s a great program despite the slightly odd logo and takes away all the hassle of converting media files or downloading dedicated programs. One of the first on my download list when I get a new computer.
Not only a great way to store and share files, Google Docs also lets you create and amend documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It’s a great tool for people who work remotely or those who need shared access to files in order to edit them.
This is one of the downloads featured on Money Saving Expert and we’ve been a big fan of it for many years. If your PC is unusually slow this is a great program which is designed to clean out all the unused ‘crap’ (hence the C) clogging up your machine. Unlike Avast it’s not constantly running in the background; you simply use it whenever your computer needs a spring clean.
A really simple and straightforward program that allows you to create PDFs from almost any kind of file. It achieved a 5 star rating from CNET.
If you haven’t used Skype before you are one of the few. The most well known and most used VoIP (Voice over IP) programs available. You can use it on mobiles, tablets and PCs and it is generally pretty reliable. If you want to conference call (with more than one person) Google Hangouts are a good alternative and give you the option of sharing your screen view. This is particularly useful if you are trying to explain something to a group i.e. a step-by-step tutorial.
If you want to create a website or blog and are reasonably computer literate WordPress is the platform. WordPress.com will host your website free of charge – the URL will be [yourwebsitename].wordpress.com – and there are many free of charge ‘themes’ to choose from. This is a great way to experiment with creating a website without committing to web hosting and design costs.
With so much open source software available there is a free version of almost everything. We recommend doing some research and reading reviews on sites like CNET to check for any problems. Software that is regularly updated is particularly useful as this should iron out any unexpected glitches.
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