Every cent matters when you have the budget of a college student, a freelancer just starting over or a parent who needs to pay for all the house bills. To equip your computer with enterprise software means inherently spending thousands of bucks on licenses. Fortunately, brand is not everything in the computer world, and there are tens of great applications that can replace mammoth software with great success, at affordable prices. We’ve put together a set of alternatives to the most popular PC applications for home use. Go ahead and find the optimum solutions for you!
- Text editing
The absolute giant of this field is Microsoft Word, priced around $120 for a single computer license. Instead, you can use Apache Open Office, which is open source and endowed with extensive features for word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, presentation making, graphics and more.
- Image editing
The $700 license for Photoshop CS5 is clearly not for the average Joe. Even though no other software can offer the photo manipulation options of Photoshop at such grade of refinement, there are good free alternatives. Gimp and Paint.Net are two apps worth looking at. They contain about 20% of the functionalities of Photoshop, and which is most important, allow working with multiple image layers.
If you are planning to buy Microsoft Office products to create forms that you will then send people by email to fill in, think twice. An online form builder like 123ContactForm helps you do the form creation job in half the time and with low to zero costs. Moreover, you gain a handy method of disseminating the form through a link or an embed code.
This is another field where big names aren’t necessarily the only quality providers. Avast free antivirus has secured my work computer for years instead of Kaspersky or others, and I may say it performed flawlessly.
- File management
Use Free Commander instead of Total Commander and you will get the same capabilities without paying the $44 license. It has an integrated DOS command prompt and acts as a FTP client for uploading and downloading files.
- Backup and storage
Instead of buying external hard drives, take a look at Dropbox, the most popular cloud storage app in the world. You have 2GB of free storage available at signup.
- CD/DVD burn
ImgBurn instead of Nero Burning ROM saves you $50. The only bad side is that the free application cannot burn multisession discs.
For office use, Mozilla Thunderbird is an excellent alternative to the costly Microsoft Outlook. It offers filtering options, instant messaging and export options for emails.
The finest tool for recording a video of your screen is Camtasia, priced around $380 for an individual license. If you can’t afford paying that much, you can try the free CamStudio, which offers a more than decent pack of features: screen recording with audio input, cursor highlight and AVI or SWF export.
- Telephone calls
Last but not least, our advice for saving a great deal of money is to use Skype instead of landline phones. It’s free and extremely practical, even more that cordless Skype phones are now available, allowing you to make calls between Skype accounts when you are outside of your house.