It is not always necessary to pay for high-quality, useful and functional software - many programs for a wide variety of everyday purposes are distributed free of charge. Freeware can help you perform a variety of tasks, keeping up with its paid counterparts. The review has been updated as of 2017-2018, new system utilities have been added, and also, at the end of the article, some things of an entertaining nature.
This article is about the best in my opinion and completely free useful programs that can be useful to every user. Below I deliberately indicate not all possible good programs for each of the goals, but only those that I have chosen for myself (or ideally suitable for the beginner).
The choice of other users may differ, but I consider it unnecessary to keep several software options for one task on the computer (with the exception of some professional cases). All described programs will (should, in any case) work in Windows 10, 8.1 and Windows 7.
Selected materials with a selection of the best programs for Windows:
Work with documents, creating tables and presentations
Some users even consider that Microsoft Office is a free office suite, and are surprised when they do not find it on a newly purchased computer or laptop. Word for working with documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint for creating presentations - you have to pay for all this and there are no such programs on Windows (and some, again, think differently).
The best completely free office software package in Russian today is LibreOffice (previously, OpenOffice could also be included here, but not anymore - the development of the package can be said to have ended).
The software is completely free (you can use it also for commercial purposes, for example, in an organization) and has all the functions that you may need from office applications - work with text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, etc., including the ability to open and save Microsoft Office documents.
More details about Libre Office and other free office suites in a separate review: The best free office for Windows . By the way, in the same topic you may be interested in the article Best programs for creating presentations .
Media player VLC Media Player - view video, audio, Internet channels
Earlier (until 2018), I indicated Media Player Classic as the best media player, but for today my recommendation is the free VLC Media Player, available not only for Windows, but also for other platforms, supporting almost all common types of media content (has built-in codecs).
With it, you can easily and conveniently play video, audio, including DLNA and from the Internet
At the same time, the player’s capabilities are not limited to playing video or audio only: you can use it to convert video, record a screen, and more. More on this and where to download VLC - VLC Media Player is more than just a media player .
WinSetupFromUSB and Rufus to create a bootable USB flash drive (or multi-boot)
The free WinSetupFromUSB program is enough to create USB drives with the installation of any current version of Windows and for Linux distributions. You need to write the image of the anti-virus LiveCD to the USB flash drive - this can also be done in WinSetupFromUSB and, if necessary, the drive will be multiboot. Read more: Download WinSetupFromUSB and instructions for use
The second free program that can be recommended for creating bootable flash drives for installing Windows 10, 8 and Windows 7 on systems with UEFI / GPT and BIOS / MBR is Rufus . It may also be useful: The best programs for creating a bootable flash drive .
CCleaner to clean your computer from debris
Perhaps the most popular free program to clean the registry, temporary files, cache and much more on your Windows. There is a built-in uninstaller and other useful tools. The main advantages, in addition to efficiency, are ease of use even for a novice user. Almost everything can be done in automatic mode and it is unlikely that anything will be spoiled.
The utility is constantly updated, and in recent versions there are tools for viewing and removing extensions and plug-ins in browsers and analyzing the contents of computer disks. Update: also, with the release of Windows 10, CCleaner introduced a tool to remove standard pre-installed applications. See also: Best Free Computer Cleaners and Efficient Use of CCleaner .
XnView MP for viewing, sorting and simple photo editing
Earlier in this section, Google Picasa was named as the best program for viewing photos, however, the company stopped developing this software. Now, for the same purpose, I can recommend XnView MP, which supports more than 500 formats of photos and other images, simple cataloging and editing of photos.
More details about XnView MP, as well as other analogues in a separate review. The best free programs for viewing photos .
Graphic editor Paint.net
Every second Russian-speaking user, of course, is a Photoshop wizard. With truths, and more often with lies, he installs it on his computer, in order to crop the photo one day. Is it necessary if the graphic editor only needs to rotate the photo, place the text, combine a couple of photos (not for work, but just like that)? Do you do at least one of the above in Photoshop, or is it just installed?
According to my estimates (and I have been using Photoshop in my work since 1999), most users do not need it, many do not use it at all, but want it to be, and have been planning to learn how to work in this program once some years. In addition, by installing unlicensed versions you not only suffer, but also run the risk.
Need an easy-to-learn and high-quality photo editor? Paint.net would be a great choice (of course, someone will say that Gimp will be better, but hardly easier). Until you decide to engage in photo editing really professionally, you will not need more functions than there are in free Paint.net. You might also be interested in the ability to edit photos and pictures online without installing programs on your computer: Best Photoshop online .
Windows Movie Maker and Windows Movie Studio
Which novice user does not want to make an excellent family computer, containing video from a phone and a camera, photos, music or signatures? And then burn your movie to disk? There are many such tools: The best free video editors . But, probably, the best simple and free program (if we talk about a completely novice user) for this would be Windows Movie Maker or Windows Movie Studio.
There are many other video editing programs, but this is an option that you can use immediately without any prior preparation. How to download Windows Movie Maker or Movie Studio from the official site .
Program for data recovery Puran File Recovery
On this site I wrote about a variety of data recovery programs, including paid ones. I tested each of them in different work scenarios - with simple deletion of files, formatting or changing the structure of partitions. The popular Recuva is very simple and convenient to use, but it only succeeds in simple cases: when recovering deleted data. If the scenario is more complex, for example, formatting from one file system to another, Recuva does not work.
Of the simple free data recovery programs in Russian that have shown the best efficiency, I can single out Puran File Recovery, the recovery result in which is perhaps better than in some paid analogues.
Details about the program, its use and where to download: Data recovery in Puran File Recovery . It will also be useful: Best data recovery programs .
AdwCleaner and Malwarebytes Antimalware Removal Programs for Malware, Adware and Malware
The problem of malicious programs that are not viruses (and therefore they are not seen by antiviruses), but cause unwanted behavior, for example, pop-up ads in the browser, the appearance of windows with unknown sites when the browser is opened, has recently been very relevant.
In order to get rid of such malware, the AdwCleaner utilities (and it works without installation) and Malwarebytes Antimalware are ideal. As an additional measure, you can try RogueKiller .
About these and other anti-malware programs
Aomei Partition Assistant for crashing a drive or increasing drive C
When it comes to disk partitioning programs, most recommend Acronis paid products and the like. However, those who at least once tried the free analog in the form of Aomei Partition Assistant, are satisfied. The program can do everything that works with hard drives (and at the same time it is in Russian):
- Restore boot record
- Convert disk from GPT to MBR and vice versa
- Change the partition structure as you need
- Clone HDD and SSD
- Work with bootable flash drive
- Convert NTFS to FAT32 and vice versa.
In general, a really convenient and perfectly working utility, although I myself am usually skeptical about such software in a free version. You can read more about this program in the guide How to increase drive C due to drive D.
Evernote and OneNote for notes
In fact, those involved in storing notes and a variety of information in a variety of notebook programs may prefer not Evernote, but other options for such software.
However, if you haven’t done this before, I recommend starting with Evernote or Microsoft OneNote (recently completely free for all platforms). Both options are convenient, provide synchronization of notes on all devices and they are easy to understand regardless of the level of training. But even if you need some more serious functions to work with your information, most likely you will find them in these two programs.
7-Zip - archiver
If you need a convenient and free archiver that can work with all common types of archives - 7-Zip is your choice.
The 7-Zip archiver is fast, it can be easily integrated into the system, it will easily unzip zip and rar archives, and if necessary, pack something will do this with one of the maximum compression ratios among programs of this category. See Best Archivers for Windows .
Ninite to install it all quickly and cleanly
Many are faced with the fact that when you install even the right program and even from the official site, it installs something else, not so necessary. And what then can be difficult to get rid of.
This can be easily avoided, for example, using the Ninite service, which helps to download clean official programs in their latest versions and to avoid the appearance of something else on the computer and in the browser.
How to use Ninite and how good it is
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free for burning CDs and DVDs, creating ISO images
Despite the fact that now they are increasingly less likely to write something to discs, for some disc burning programs can still be relevant. I personally come in handy. And it is not necessary to have any Nero package for these purposes, such a program as Ashampoo Burning Studio Free is quite suitable - it has everything you need.
Details about this and other programs for burning discs: Free programs for burning CDs and DVDs
Browsers and Antiviruses
But I will not write about the best free browsers and antiviruses in this article, since every time I touch on a topic, those who are dissatisfied immediately appear in the comments. It doesn’t matter which of the programs I called the best, there are almost always two reasons - the system slows down and the special services (ours and not ours) follow us through them. I note only one material that may come in handy: The best antivirus for Windows 10 .
So this point will be brief: almost all the browsers and free antiviruses that you have heard are quite good. Separately, we can note the Microsoft Edge browser that appeared in Windows 10. It has flaws, but perhaps this is the Microsoft browser that will be popular with many users.
Additional programs for Windows 10 and 8.1
With the release of new Microsoft systems, programs that change the Start menu to the standard of 7, various utilities for design and more, have become especially popular. Here are some that you might find useful:
- Classic Shell for Windows 10 and 8.1 - allows you to return the Start menu from Windows 7 to the new OS, as well as flexibly configure it. See Classic Start Menu for Windows 10 .
- Free gadgets for Windows 10 - work in 8-ke, and are standard gadgets from Windows 7, which can be placed on the desktop 10-ki.
- FixWin 10 - a program for automatically fixing Windows errors (and not only the 10th version). It is noteworthy in that it contains the most common problems that happen to users and you can fix them either with the click of a button or directly in the program to see instructions on how to do this manually. Unfortunately, only in English.
Well, in conclusion, one more thing: standard games for Windows 10 and 8.1. For more than 10 years, our users are so accustomed to Kosynka and Spider solitaire, Minesweeper and other standard games that their absence or even just changing the interface in the latest versions is painful for many.
But that's okay. This can be easily fixed - How to download solitaire and other standard games for Windows 10 (works in 8.1)
I did not write about some other programs, which would not be of particular benefit to most of my readers, since their use is required only for a comparatively narrow range of tasks. Therefore, there is no Notepad ++ or Sublime Text, FileZilla or TeamViewer, and other things I really need. I also did not write about obvious things, such as Skype. I’ll also add that when downloading free programs somewhere, it’s worth checking them out at VirusTotal.com, they may contain something that is not quite desirable on your computer.