If you are paying for software, you are paying too much. Am I advocating using or downloading illegal copies of programs? Hardly. There are many free programs that perform the same functions as programs costing sometimes hundreds of dollars.
Open Office is an open source office productivity software suite with word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases. It was created by Star Office before being further developed by Sun Microsystems and Oracle and then donated to Apache in 2010. Open office runs on just about every platform and operating system. You can read, write, edit and “save as” just about any Microsoft Office file. So, when your free trial version of Microsoft Office expires or you just don't feel like paying for that latest upgrade, give Open Office a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot to save. (This article was written using Open Office's word processing software, Writer.)
There is no reason you should be paying for anti-virus software these days. There are many free programs that are just as good and sometimes better than those you have to pay for. My favorite is AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012. I have been using AVG for many years and have never had a virus on my PCs. My wife and son have had some problems but that was because they were not updating the virus definitions in a timely fashion. AVG is well supported, often updated and not the resource hog that programs like Norton tend to be.
Super Antispyware Free Edition states “Remove all the Spyware, not just the easy ones”. It's free. It works for me. And, it doesn't clash with AVG.
Malwarebytes states that it detects and remove all traces of malware including worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more. I keep this on my computer and update it regularly. To be honest, I am not even sure it works because my AVG and Super Antispyware work so well. Still, I am not taking any chances. And you probably shouldn't either.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is another free, open source program available in versions for most operating systems. It is used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages (combining multiple images), converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks. Animated images such as GIF and MPEG files can be created using an animation plug-in. Much like Photoshop, GIMP is a software graphics application for the editing and creation of original images, photos, icons, graphical elements of web pages and art for user interface elements. Unlike Photoshop, it's free.
Firefox web browser Got Windows? Use Internet Explorer? You crazy! Microsoft Internet explorer is bloated and chock-full of security issues. There are several alternatives out there. My favorite is Mozilla's Firefox. Firefox is fast, flexible and secure. It supports a lot of plug-ins and add-ons such as Ad Blocker Plus, a nifty tool that blocks pop-up ads and ads in general on just about any website. I have not seen an ad on Facebook in years!
My favorite site for free downloads is Major Geeks. You can download many of the applications directly from their site or from the link they provide to the authors' sites. Another good site for free downloads is CNET's Download.com.