9 Great Freeware Programs that Should be on Every PC

One of the most common questions we get here at Gizmo’s Freeware is “What freeware programs do I really need?”

So here are our suggestions for the free programs you should consider installing on your Windows PC. And to make things easy for you we have not only listed the programs you need but provided full download and installation instructions, all contained in a free, downloadable, 44 page PDF report.

This report is provided free as a service to our readers and contains no advertising. No registration is required or any data collected. It is what it is: a genuine freebie with no strings attached.

What's in the report:

  • Our selection of the nine best freeware programs for average users (see list)
  • What these programs do and why you need them
  • Full download instructions for each product
  • Full installation and usage guidelines including dozens of screen shots
  • How you can get free support for these products

The products have been chosen because they are useful, work well and you don’t have to be an expert to use them. For expert users we’d probably change some of our recommendations but these suggestions will hit the sweet spot between power and ease-of-use for most people.

All these programs are from reputable companies and are free of viruses, trojans and other nasties

How to get the free report

1. Clicking your right mouse button on the following link and then select “Save as..”

http://download.techsupportalert.com/9-great-freeware-programs.pdf  (0.77MB)

If you encounter problems saving the PDF file try clicking the following link which is the same PDF report enclosed in a ZIP file.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/download/9-great-freeware-programs.zip (0.71MB)

2. Once you have downloaded the PDF file, locate where you saved it on your computer and then double click to open the report.

The report is in Adobe PDF format so to read it you need a PDF reader. Most people already have a PDF reader installed on their PC but if you don't you can download the standard Adobe Acrobat Reader from here or the smaller and in some ways superior, PDF-Xchange viewer from here.  Both are free.

Enjoy!

Gizmo

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Comments

by eXERGURL on 15. June 2013 - 5:45  (108537)

Thanks. Can't wait to check these out.

by freestuffrocks on 11. March 2013 - 19:22  (106143)

Just to point out to people before they download the document that it is dated January 2011, and some of the programs have not performed well subsequently, notably Microsoft Security Essentials, which has now failed AV-TEST certification twice in a row, and has received generally very poor reviews from a number of different sources in recent times.

Auslogics, whilst being my personal favourite defragmenter, was completely missing from Gizmo's recommended list for nearly a year until it crept back in a couple of months ago.

Any chance of an updated list?

by MidnightCowboy on 12. March 2013 - 1:29  (106152)

As Gizmo's own list, this is independent of and not influenced by our existing review content. The AV-Test results are only relevant to those who use their computer (of which I know none) in exactly the same way as described in the tests. These things also need to be taken in context.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/mmpc/archive/2013/01/16/lessons-learned-from-...

MSE is widely used in my own circle, including for business use, and no one is getting infected.

The same goes for the AV Comparatives so called Real World Protection Tests. If you read the full description, you come across this:

"Tested on Winxp SP3.

Initially we planned to test this year with a fully updated/patched system, but we had to switch back using older/vulnerable/unpatched OS and software versions due to lack of enough exploits in-the-field to test against”.

So, they used an out of date system + programs that were neither updated nor patched, and folks using the current Microsoft system, and the last, are using these stats to choose their antivirus??? :)

How on earth can they call this a “real world” test?

MC - Site Manager.

by freestuffrocks on 12. March 2013 - 11:54  (106163)

I have to say my own experiences with MSE were rather different. Things were fine for about a year and then it let through the Clean This ransomware variant, masquerading as MSE. Instead of killing the process I clicked on the close button and the resulting carnage was a nightmare to clear up. I've been using Avast for over 18 months now and I've had no problems at all.

by MidnightCowboy on 12. March 2013 - 13:38  (106169)

How did this manage to bypass UAC? MC - Site Manager.

by freestuffrocks on 12. March 2013 - 15:09  (106173)

Unwisely I had it disabled at the time. So, yes, there were contributory factors, but I would still have expected MSE to deal with it. Now I think of it, there were a number of other problems. MSE fairly regularly failed to block various trojans over the period I was using it which only became apparent when I scanned with MBAM.

by MidnightCowboy on 12. March 2013 - 16:45  (106178)

To be exposed to "various trojans" suggests high risk browsing. No antivirus will protect users in this category, whereas far more simple measures will reduce the risk considerably (including not disabling UAC).

I've tried to cover this in a bit more detail here.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/safe-computing-under-hour.htm

There are of course different combinations that users may prefer and since I wrote the above article I've been using ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus and Firewall over an extended period with no problems and no infections. I have this paired with WOT, Norton DNS and the free version of WinPatrol. I test Windows software extensively, often in response to visitor comments, and I always check what each program is trying to do to my system with ToolWiz Time Freeze before committing to a full install.

MC - Site Manager.

by freestuffrocks on 12. March 2013 - 18:45  (106182)

Thanks for the info. Very useful article too which I hadn't seen before. I wouldn't say my browsing is high risk but after the 'Clean This' incident I enabled UAC, ditched MSE, disabled Windows (Vista) firewall, stopped using IE and replaced them with the following: Avast free AV and Comodo firewall with D+ enabled (Chiron's guide made installation and setup simple). Like you I also use WOT, Norton ConnectSafe and WinPatrol free. I mainly use Chromium based Comodo Dragon browser with many of the extensions you recommend in your article, and this setup has served me very well for some time now. MBAM and Hitman Pro haven't found a single nasty.

by MidnightCowboy on 13. March 2013 - 0:56  (106197)

I'm pleased you found the other article useful.

True PC security will always be about risk management (as opposed to hunting for stuff after it has arrived) and in this respect a combination of tools will always be preferable to relying on a single program to do everything. Unfortunately, due mainly to the marketing of various programs, many users are lulled into a false sense of security when they see security programs labelled for example as "total" or "360".

The setup you describe now is absolutely ideal for someone who is knowledgeable enough to maintain it. This refers mainly to Comodo but as you discovered already, Chiron's guide makes this a lot easier. MC - Site Manager.

by KENRICH aka G-KEN on 23. November 2012 - 12:31  (102782)

i would really like to enjoy your service
thanks

by geobarn62 on 22. November 2012 - 2:13  (102717)

What do I need to use my pictures and make a slide show and then play it on my TV with my VHS/DVD machine. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
George 73 yrs old. Need help.

by MidnightCowboy on 22. November 2012 - 2:51  (102719)

George, the best place to get this advice is in our forum. Please post details of what you would like to do here and someone will help you. MC - Site Manager.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/improving-public-terminal-security.htm

You might also find this review useful:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-photo-slideshow-softwa...

by macsband on 6. October 2012 - 19:53  (100390)

Item # 3, Auslogics Disk Defrag, is not in the list of "Best Free Disk De-fragmenter," which recommends UltraDefrag as "the best product in its class."

by Jimmy Porter (not verified) on 1. August 2012 - 6:48  (96994)

I listen to streaming radio at night. How do I dim the screen to dark to keep the bugs away.

Jimmy

by MidnightCowboy on 1. August 2012 - 6:52  (96995)

Try consulting the manual for your laptop or monitor, or install a black wallpaper and minimize any open windows :)

by Annoy Nimouse (not verified) on 22. November 2012 - 19:26  (102746)

There's a free utility you can find online called "Monitor Off."

by arrowhead (not verified) on 16. January 2012 - 18:28  (87256)

FYI PDF24-creator adds a start when windows starts command that is non-revocable. It also starts an ad-ware downloading app. I was able to cancel both of these through WinPatrol, however PDF24-creator was, apparently still trying to complete either loading or downloading adds or both as resources were so consumed that any programs that were trying load after creator were stuck and never finished. Fortunately I created a restore point and just restored the machine to before creator's installation.

by bikerboy (not verified) on 19. December 2011 - 17:02  (85297)

I am new to computers. A knowledgeable friend recommended AVG for anti-virus and Malwarebytes for anti-spyware removal. Do these 2 programs perform the same or similar functions as any of the programs on your list of 9?

Thank you for listening. Your site is great. Keep up the good work.

by MidnightCowboy on 19. December 2011 - 17:55  (85301)

The list features MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) which is a real-time antimalware program like AVG. Some tests show AVG to be more effective overall but it is a lot more complicated to use than MSE. MSE is also designed to integrate perfectly with Internet Explorer and Windows firewall. The free version of Malwarebytes has no real-time protection but it is a highly effective program and an ideal "second opinion" or supplementary scanner.

by bikerboy on 19. December 2011 - 18:37  (85306)

Thanks for this info. I thought that's how Malwarebytes worked, but wasn't sure. Thanks for the distinction between MSE and AVG. Much appreciated.

by Corek (not verified) on 17. August 2011 - 21:42  (77838)

What I do not like about Auslogics Disk Defrag, is that it supposed to find 33 junk files and when I click on Learn More it throws up a new web page with the message "Your Disk Is Bloated with Junk Files". I am sorry 33 junks files is not "bloated" and then I am invited to download Auslogics BoostSpeed. No thanks, don't know it and it was not on the recommended list. Then, soon after running CCleaner, the Auslogics Disk Defrag registry says 33 errors (coincidence 33 junk files, 33 registry errors)? and advises me to download BoostSpeed. Now does that mean CCleaner is rubbish, or that Auslogics Disk Defrag is lying?

by InsaneHobo on 15. March 2012 - 21:21  (90667)

I get almost the exact same thing! I would say it's lying but CCleaner doesn't go very deep with registry cleaning although you don't really need to clean your registry because the risk of messing up your computer is much greater than the reward of a slightly faster PC (you probably won't even notice)...

by Hoppy on 18. June 2011 - 3:15  (73944)

Just joined your site and i wish i had found it years ago.
I love Freeware and to find a "genuine" Freeware site is like hitting the jackpot.

I agree with the list and happy to see MSE on the list as its unusual for MS to produce something that just works.
Ive used Auslogics for a while and its a demon piece of Freeware as is 7zip.

by Someone who knows a lot about computers (not verified) on 5. January 2012 - 23:17  (86652)

Personally, I prefer a program called IZArc. Forget where I picked it up at, but it works like a charm and every tool you could need is packed into it. For example, you can test for a virus, go into debugging mode, and create an EXE file just from the buttons on the program instead of digging into the File, Edit, Tools, etc. tabs.

by bikerboy on 19. December 2011 - 18:32  (85304)

"Ive used Auslogics for a while and its a demon piece of Freeware as is 7zip."

By this do you mean that you don't like them? If so, why?

Thanks. I've got lots to learn.

by danielhughes1987 on 14. June 2011 - 10:41  (73777)

Nice Post...!! Love to read...really informative.. :) love to see more from you.

by nighthawk (not verified) on 13. June 2011 - 8:28  (73714)

I would have preferred to se Avast or Avira on the list.
Based on facts from Virus Bulletin and AV-Comparatives.

by Prophet Zarquon (not verified) on 29. August 2011 - 20:02  (78582)

Avira's active protection and heuristics bog down my Windows PC and doubles CPU usage when transferring files (not good when on battery!) whereas Microsoft Security Essentials offered the same functionality without ads, nag screens or comparable slowdown. MSE *does* make my system lag somewhat, but not as much as every other free active protection antivirus I've tried.

Avast worked OK, had fewer nags than Avira, and a larger database than MSE, but constantly returned false positives to the point where I turned it off.

Testing antivirus by comparing databases is nearly pointless. Active protection is far more important than having a huge database, when new virii are constantly being developed.

That said, NONE of the major AV apps I've tried caught my hand made ActiveX script OR a malicious Flash exploit, when using Firefox or Internet Explorer's default settings. So configuring your browser security to ask you for permission at every new site is still the best way to go.

by omniuser (not verified) on 4. November 2011 - 9:25  (82702)

Use Sandboxie while web surfing.

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