A new PC can be had for around £200 these days, but you can spend far more than that on the software needed to make it useful.
Freeware is exactly what you’d expect it to mean, free software. However, it can be a challenge to find something decent – and you’re right to be hesitant of anything free. Fortunately, we’ve given a number of free applications a go, and we’ve rounded up the best for you.
Free photo editing
Adobe Photoshop is the leader in photo editing software but you have to pay a monthly subscription of £17.15 to use its latest Photoshop CC product.
Although it lacks many tools, Gimp is a powerful alternative that does just enough for the average user.
Like a lot of open source software, Gimp’s interface isn’t as slick as that of paid-for software and it can be slow at times, but those are minor complaints considering its wealth of features and price – or lack of it. Watch the video above to see how we got on with Gimp.
If you think Gimp is a bit too complicated for you, you could also try Paint.NET which offers a number of advanced options in an easy-to-use interface.
Free office suites
Most people instantly think of Microsoft Office when it comes to word processing and spreadsheets. The latest version, Office 365, costs £59.99 but that’ll only get you a year’s subscription for one PC and one tablet.
Instead, you could get many similar features for free using Libre Office, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation and drawing applications. The applications are also compatible with Microsoft Office, so you can exchange files with Office users without any problems.
Not feeling Libre Office? Try OpenOffice instead, which comes with six reliable applications to match up with Microsoft’s offering. However, both are without an Outlook substitute.
Free cloud storage
You no longer need to clog up your PC with all your family photos. A cloud storage solution like BT Cloud offers free storage for your photos, as well as documents and more.
You don’t just have to back up your files from a PC – it can be used on a smartphone and tablet as well. You can leave the app running in the background and it’ll back up your things automatically, meaning you can quickly access photos on a different device as and when you need to.
BT Broadband customers get either 5GB or 50GB cloud storage depending on your package. Find out how to start using BT Cloud here.
Free system maintenance
Keeping Windows in tip-top shape can be a chore, which is where system maintenance utilities come in handy. Unsurprisingly, you don’t need to pay £40 for packages like Norton Utilities - SlimWare Utilities SlimCleaner 4 is an excellent free alternative.
The application will clean unwanted files to free up hard drive space, optimise Windows to make it a little nippier and general keep your computer fighting fit.
Better still, it uses feedback from other users to make recommendations about what to keep and what to delete, dramatically reducing the risk of deleting an important file - which is always a risk with this kind of software.
Free DVD players
If you’re using Windows 10 you may have discovered that DVDs will no longer play. To find out why, and discover some free alternatives, click here.
Do you have any free application recommendations you want to shout about? Share them with us in the Comments section below.
Updated April 2016 - additional reporting by Jamie Harris