Free software Warning:
Free software is often downloadable from multiple sources, some of which are quite reputable but others are not. Where possible, you are advised to download products from the original manufacturer/vendor. In all cases watch carefully for check boxes (tick boxes) present in any forms or dialog boxes displayed before you can download the product: these are often 'pre-ticked' by default — read what you are agreeing to, and 'un-tick' the boxes as appropriate. At best, these pre-ticked options will be adding you to a mailing list, but at worst, you may be agreeing to additional unwanted software, short-term trial versions, etc.. The most disreputable sources may even automatically include hidden malware in your downloads.
Recommended at the Computer Café
The following software has been suggested and/or recommended at the Computer Café.
To the best of our knowledge, the sources linked below are reputable, but ... [usual disclaimer] ... you use them at your own risk!
- Password Manager: LastPass
LastPass comes in both a free version and a 'Premium' version with additional features. It can store not only login and password details, but also includes templates for other types of personal information that you may wish to keep securely, e.g. bank account and credit card details, driving licence details, insurance details, passport details, etc.. All this data is encrypted and stored securely in the cloud, but is accessible through a single strong password of your choice. The data is stored online so that it is accessible from anywhere on any device with an internet connection. The data can also be stored locally, so that it is accessible on your own devices without an internet connection. Local storage requires the installation of a browser extension or app on your computer or other device; these are available for installation on most types of devices, including computers, tablets, phones, etc., with automatic syncing between the data stored on your computer or other device & that stored online. Some of the apps are available only with the 'Premium' (paid) version of LastPass, but at US$12/year (less that £1/month) (at June 2015) the 'Premium' version is excellent value.
- CCleaner (formerly CrapCleaner) from Piriform
"CCleaner is a very efficient and easy to use utility that cleans and optimizes your PC to ensure best performance and freedom from malware." A free version of the product is available — which is quite adequate for many users — as well as Professional & Professional Plus versions with additional features. It is well worth running this program regularly. The default settings are appropriate for most users, but advice on the settings is available at the Computer Café if required. Reviews of CCleaner can be read at Softonic and Download.com, but we advise downloading from Piriform.
Versions of CCleaner are also availabe for Mac and Android users; and a product called Agomo "brings CCleaner, Defraggler and more to the cloud".
- Defraggler from Piriform
Disk Defragmentation — "Use Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive, or individual files - unique in the industry. This compact and portable Windows application supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems." Detailed description of features here. Available in free and Professional versions.
- Recuva from Piriform
File recovery — "Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost something important when your computer crashed? No problem! Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player." Detailed description of features here. Available in free and Professional versions.
Finding duplicate files
We have been asked about software suitable for finding duplicate files. We have briefly tested the following programs, which appear to be suitable for this purpose, but ... [usual disclaimer] ... you use them at your own risk!
We would also suggest that, when using such programs, you think carefully about what you consider to be duplicate files. For example, which of the following should be identical:
- file name
- file type
- file size
- date/time file created
- date/time file last modified
- should hidden files be included?
Note: The software included in the lists linked below is recommended by the lists' compilers. The lists are provided in good faith but do not constitute specific recommendations by the Computer Café.
Free Office Software and The big free software directory
as compiled by Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert.com
Click the headings above and/or the categories below for free recommended* alternatives to many of the big-name high-cost popular software programs, with options for use on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, or online:
- Microsoft Office alternatives
- Improve computer performance
- Image & photo editing
- Desktop publishing
- Audio & video
- Communication tools
- Antivirus software
- Ad-ware & Spy-ware removal
- Back-up & online storage
- Online storage (free & paid)