Here is a top 10 list of free apps which will take care of pretty much all the essential common tasks a computer user needs to do.

Any computer user knows that in order to make the most out of using his computer he needs additional software applications next to his operating system to make his life easier. But what do you do when you don’t have the money to buy a license for every piece of software you need? Well, you have lots of free alternatives to popular commercial software. Here is a top 10 list of free apps which will take care of pretty much all the essential common tasks a computer user needs to do.

1. Google Chrome

From launch until today, still the fastest browser out there in all the tests. A big advantage of Chrome is the multiprocess architecture it is based on. In other words, each tab you open works in its own environment, just like a standalone browser.  That means if a webpage crashes it won’t affect your whole browsing experience.

The screen space is dedicated to viewing the website you need, so you won’t see many buttons or toolbars scattered around distracting you from work. Another aspect you will appreciate is the omnibox, the address bar which works also as a search bar and a settings bar. Chrome also gives you the chance to surf the internet without any information logged on your computer by using the Incognito feature.


2. Avira AntiVir Personal Edition

The one kind of program everyone has trouble choosing. The antivirus. Most of the popularantiviruses ask you to pay either for a monthly subscription or a long term license. Avira has a very good free alternative which is still in the top with a detection rate of around 99.3% for the malware thrown at it. It also updates constantly, the only downside being an advertisement which comes up after each update.

3. KM Player

A free media player with an ergonomic interface and a lot of options even for the most avid multimedia junkie. Great format support including  AVI, ASF, WMV, AVS, FLV, MKV and included codecs make it the player-of-choice for the fresh installs when you just need software that works.

KM Player also offers great support for .mkv files, making watching HD movies a real pleasure.

4. Foobar 2000

Most of you probably use Winamp for listening to  your favorite songs. It’s easy, popular and has a good music management system.

For the few who are willing to try something different, one of the best alternatives is Foobar 2000. This is not a music player with a fancy interface or lots of bloated features. Instead it has a simple interface (very simple actually, you might feel a bit of a 90s sensation when seeing it for the first time) and it is based on plugins. Anything you want to do with it, there’s a plugin for that.

Tests have shown that Foobar 2000 has the best sound quality among the other players due to the algorithms it uses to compress sound, so if you also have a good audio system you might just hear a difference from your everyday music player.

5. CCleaner

Over time your computer becomes cluttered with temporary files and useless programs. If your computer got slow lately, Piriform has a free solution for you which works extremely well. CCleaner is a tool which searches throughout your Windows registry, files and programs and removes all the temporary and useless files which are not needed anymore and take up your hard drive space.

 All this combined with a simple user interface and ease of use make CCleaner a valuable free tool for keeping your computer up to speed.  

6. Defraggler

Another tool from Piriform, Defraggler has the ability to show you all your fragmented files. You can click one to see where on the disk its various pieces lie, or defragment just that one. This tool can be very useful when your hard disk is getting full of information and the computer seems to run slower and slower as the days pass.

Defraggler also sports a very friendly interface and the defragmenting time is pretty good also. You can defrag your whole hard disk or select certain files you need to defragment in order to focus on the ones with the highest priority and not wait for the whole hard disk to be re-arranged.

 7. Irfanview

First released in 1996, it is still the fastest image viewer and it has plenty of useful features, despite its insignificant impact on resources and the little space it takes. IrfanView was the first graphic viewer that supported both animated .gif and .ico (icons) formats and one of the first that supports the multipage .tif format. Irfan reports receiving over 45,000 e-mail messages expressing appreciation for the program.

8. Pidgin

Initially designed as a messenger client for Linux systems, it now has a fully functional Windows version which sports a friendly interface, lots of networks which you can connect to (including Yahoo, MSN and AOL). Once you start it you won’t even realize it’s connected, having a very low impact on resources.

For those of you who want to get a bit geeky with it, Pidgin also offers a lot of plugins varying from plugins which block spam messages to plugins which can secure conversations with RSA encryption.

9. Notepad++

Notepad++ is a very versatile and powerful source code editor that can also double as an excellent replacement for the default Notepad text editor in Windows. Syntax highlighting, line numbering or zooming are just few of the features this powerful tool offers for you in order to increase your productivity.

10. 7-Zip

A very good alternative to popular programs like Winrar or Winzip, 7-zip supports a wide range of formats and uses powerful compression algorithms allowing you to get the most out of your free space. It doesn’t have a modern interface, looking more like a classic windows explorer (which can successfully double as), but the compression rate takes this software right to the top of the category, making it a worthy adversary for all the other archivers out there.