Almost nothing is free these days. You have to pay to do pretty much everything that normally you’d be able to do of your own accord. It used to be that you could just have the things you needed for free, like water and food and video games. One of the most expensive necessities these days is computer software, but luckily, due to generosity and a neat licensing agreement, many companies create software that they offer for free in exchange for public donations. Or, big companies like Google can afford to produce high-quality software and offer it to the public for free. Here are our picks for our top five favorite pieces of free software that make our lives just a little bit cheaper and easier.
CCleaner – Windows/Mac
CCleaner is a cool little utility that cleans the gunk out of your computer to make it run more smoothly. CCleaner’s primary function is to clean out junk files such as temporary files, web history, cookies, and logs, among other unnecessary space-hogs that tend to pile up the more you use your computer. Free expansion plugins are available to make CCleaner apply to a wide range of programs. CCleaner also has other cool features, such as a registry cleaner that automatically detects errors and missing values which it can automatically repair, as well as a built-in uninstaller utility that cleans out every trace of programs you want to get rid of.
Google Drive – Windows/Mac/iOS/Android/hopefully Linux soon/Web
What used to be known as Google Docs is now known as Google Drive. Much like Dropbox, Google Drive installs to your computer and establishes a folder wherever you wish. This folder syncs constantly with Google Drive and saves a small copy of each of your Google Docs to your computer, which can be double-clicked and launched in your browser in the traditional Google Docs suite. Not only does Google’s suite of online office software rival its paid alternatives in a big way, but Google Drive can read a range of external file types such as Adobe Creative Suite files, Microsoft Word files, and PDFs. Google Drive can work on an unlimited number of computers and devices, and simply requires a Google or Gmail account to set up.
Microsoft Security Essentials – Windows 7/Vista/XP
It’s not every day you hear “free” and Microsoft in the same sentence, but here goes: Microsoft’s free anti-virus computer security software is probably the top-of-the-line freeware virus remover currently available to consumers. Developed by Microsoft, Microsoft Security Essentials is design to protect and prevent any vulnerability in the Windows operating system and protects from malware, spyware, trojans, phishing, and more. With round-the-clock monitoring, scans that are automatic and can be scheduled, and automatic definition updating, Microsoft Security Essentials is the most comprehensive and secure anti-virus programs available to Windows users.
f.lux – Windows/Mac/Linux/iOS (Jailbroken)
Did you know that current computer monitors are designed to shine as brightly as sunlight? That considered, how much sense does it make to be staring into the sun at nighttime when you’re burning the midnight oil late at night on your computer? f.lux is a handy, lightweight, free utility that adjusts the brightness and coloring of your computer’s screen based on the position of the sun in the sky to be easier on your eyes. As the sun sets and day turns to night, f.lux automatically adjusts your screen to look less like bright, fluorescent sunlight and more like the orange-ish lights in your household. f.lux even uses your location to adjust what level your screen should be at based on the sun’s position. That extra sunlight at night can make you sleep less and work less efficiently, so f.lux can actually improve your personal function!
VLC Media Player – Windows/Mac/Linux
VLC Media Player plays every kind of video file. Without codecs. Plain and simple. VLC comes ready to play just about every kind of digital video file, as well as files on video devices, cameras, and discs. Without the hassle of additional codecs, VLC can play any video with awesome speed, as the program uses less memory and processor power than programs like Windows Media Player and Quicktime to play videos of any quality and file size. VLC is a must-have for anyone who downloads or plays lots of video on their computer. It’s too simple and easy to say no to!
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