A program is something that you install on your computer to carry out a job. There are many thousands of programs (software) - computer shops have shelves full of them for sale. However, there are a number of well-respected free programs available for you to download from the internet! Who says you can't get something for nothing? These are completely free and very useful!
Take care to download software only from trusted sites, such as the ones listed on this page. Avoid "warez" sites and sites offering for free something that ought to be paid for, as such sites sometimes contain viruses or threats to your computers security.
There are many sorts of program available for free download. Below are a selection of those that are well thought-of and often recommended.
A firewall program will monitor and block unauthorised activity in or out of your computer.
Note: You must only have one firewall program running, or else they will conflict or slow your computer right down. If you install one of these, turn off the Windows Firewall (built-in to XP or Vista) as both programs below performed better in tests. (Start > Control panel > Windows Firewall)
An anti-virus program scans your files and alerts you if a file contains a virus, and enables you to delete it.
Note: You must only have one anti-virus program running, or else they will conflict or slow your computer right down. If you have an anti-virus program already, such as one that came installed on your computer, be sure to disable it (or uninstall it) if you install one of the programs below.
An anti-spyware program scans your files and alerts you if you have downloaded a spyware file, malware file or harmful cookie, and enables you to delete it.
Note: It is okay to have more than one anti-spyware program running. Some of those suggested below are a good combination.
A rootkit hides malicious objects like trojans or keyloggers. An Anti-Rootkit program gives you the power to find and delete rootkits.
Office and general utility programs:
The market leading programs can cost a packet, but free alternatives are available:
Open Office - office suite compatible with other suites - can open Word, Excel, PowerPoint files etc.
Lotus Symphony - office suite compatible with other suites - can open Word, Excel, PowerPoint files etc.
Serif Page Plus - desktop publisher.
Adobe Acrobat Reader - program to read .pdf files (some documents on the internet are in this format).
Foxit Reader - program to read .pdf files (some documents on the internet are in this format) - much smaller download that Adobe Acrobat.
Cute PDF Writer - free program to convert documents to .pdf format.
Skype - make phone calls from your computer.
KompoZer - free website writer.
NVU - free website writer.
FireFTP - Firefox add-on enabling you to upload files to your web space.
View your photos easily and tweak them with these programs.
You don't have to use Internet Explorer to view websites! Many people prefer one of the alternatives, which have many features IE lacks.
You don't have to use Outlook Express to read and write emails! Many people prefer one of the alternatives.
Video and Music programs:
Listen to music, watch video, edit, etc.
Audacity - record and edit audio, import and improve your music files.
GOM Video Player
SUPER Video Player Encoder & Renderer - plays or converts wide range of video formats
Infra Recorder - free CD/DVD burning program
CDBurnerXP - free CD/DVD burning program
Utilities for Maintaining your Computer:
Diskeeper Lite - de-fragments your hard disk much faster than the built-in Windows de-frag utility.
Defraggler - an alternative free de-fragmenting utility.
Comodo Backup - free program to back up your data or synchronise data between two computers or drives.
CCleaner - system optimization and cleaning tool - removes unused files - allows Windows to run faster and frees up disk space
General Download Sites:
These sites include many free as well as non-free programs: