If you’re running a business, then one of the highest costs you may be faced with is equipping your IT systems with the relevant software.
However, over the past few years, independent programmers and companies alike have developed free software that have come to replace their more expensive, well-known counterparts. Below are 101 free alternatives tocommonly used paid software that could help save you or your business a lot of money.
Ubuntu (as an alternative to Windows)
Based on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution, Ubuntu is an open source operating system named after the South African principle that means “humanity towards users”. The OS has received heavy praise for its ease of installation and usage.
Fedora (as an alternative to Windows)
Like Ubuntu, Fedora is a Linux based operating system that is built around an open source community.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (as an alternative to Windows)
Another Linux based operating system, Red Hat is an open source operating system that gives users unprecedented levels of operational flexibility.
Haiku (as an alternative to Windows)
Haiku is a new open-source operating system that specifically targets personal computing. Inspired by the Be Operating System, Haiku aims to become a fast, efficient, simple to use, easy to learn and yet very powerful system for computer users of all levels.
Thunderbird (as an alternative to Outlook Express)
A cross-platform email system that allows users to bring together all their electronic correspondence as well as any news feeds.
Google Mail (as an alternative to Outlook Express)
An easy-to-use email system that has rapidly grown over the past few years to become as popular as MSN’s Hotmail. The system can also be used with Google’s other accounts.
XChat (as an alternative to MIRC)
XChat is an IRC chat program for both Linux and Windows. It allows you to join multiple IRC channels (chat rooms) at the same time, talk publicly, private one-on-one conversations etc. Even file transfers are possible.
Project Management / Organisation Tools
Mindmeister (as an alternative to Microsoft Visio)
An online mind mapping application, Mindmeister allows for real-time brainstorming sessions to be conducted all over the world with users able to share ideas and thoughts instantly.
Sync.in (as an alternative to Project Place)
In order for staff to collaborate in real-time on any potential project, Sync.in allows for multiple people to edit text with efficiency.
ClientSpot (as an alternative to Project Place)
Allows users to share and tracks tasks as well as other project files. Ideal for virtual professionals and small businesses.
37signals Basecamp (as an alternative to Project Place)
Tackling project management from a different angle, Basecamp allows people from around the world to come together to share ideas and discuss projects online. It is arguably the most popular project collaboration tool on the web today.
24SevenOffice (as an alternative to Project Place)
An ajax-based ERP/CRM-solution that includes a project management module.
DeskAway (as an alternative to Project Place)
Project and task software ideal for small creative firms, looking to allow its staff to create, manage and track projects from one source.
Free Mind (as an alternative to Mind Jet)
FreeMind gives you the flexibility to organize thoughts on a page as they connect to each other and to the larger picture.
Dia (as an alternative to Microsoft Visio)
Dia is inspired by the commercial Windows program ‘Visio’, though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use. It allows you to sketch your favorite structured diagrams.
Google Docs (as an alternative to Microsoft Office)
Google Docs has most of the programs that Microsoft Office has, such as word processing, spreadsheets and calendars, and not only is it free, but it can be accessed anywhere thanks to cloud computing.
Docs.com (as an alternative to Microsoft Office)
Docs.com is a Facebook and Microsoft collaboration, which allows users to create and share documents across Facebook.
OpenOffice (as an alternative to Microsoft Office)
As an open source office suite, Open Office allows for the utilisation of the best office programs online such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases. User contributions can be made to the project, which means that it is constantly growing and evolving.
Think Free (as an alternative to Microsoft Office)
ThinkFree Office includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program. ThinkFree is compatible with Microsoft’s Office formats and has a low learning curve for users of Microsoft’s products who want to switch over.
To Do/Task Management Software
Evernote (as an alternative to Orbisoft)
Working on computers, phones and other handheld devices, Evernote allows for quick and easy memos/notes, and updates all your devices accordingly.
WikiPad 1.8 (as an alternative to Orbisoft)
Part of Wiki’s ever-growing range of applications, WikiPad is a fast way to cross link information using WikiWords, a standalone notepad application. Any ideas or memos you need to remember can be added for easy access and management.
Remember the Milk (as an alternative to Orbisoft)
A useful task manager, Remember the Milk sends you reminders, connects with your Google Calendar, receives email and SMS, and is also accessible from your phone.
Toodledo (as an alternative to Hub List)
A useful task manager, Toodledo has grown so popular it is now even available on iPhone’s, which means that users can quickly and easily add ‘to do’ tasks on the go.
Google Calendar (as an alternative to Outlook Express)
Part of Google’s cloud service, Google Calendar allows you to easily keep track of your appointments and meetings wherever you are.
Avast! (as an alternative to Norton Antivirus)
This free anti-virus and anti-spyware software is constantly updating itself with new protocols to ensure your computer is safe from the latest threats.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (as an alternative to Norton Antivirus)
A popular download, AVG Free enables users to download a basic form of anti-virus and antis-pyware protection on their computers, including a LinkScanner for online malware.
TOR (as an alternative to Norton Antivirus)
If you are wary of network threats, then TOR is for you. A free software program that defends computer against hacks after confidential and private details.
Spybot Search and Destroy (as an alternative to Norton Antivirus)
If you think your system has spyware on it, instead of buying expensive software, Spybot searches the whole of your computer, or just a specific section, to identify, quarantine and delete it.
Microsoft Security Essentials (as an alternative to Norton Antivirus)
Provided free by Microsoft, Security Essentials gives your computer real-time protection against malicious software such as viruses and spyware.
Lastpass (as an alternative to Password Manager)
LastPass is an online password manager that protects your system from malware as well as securing data on your computer.
KeePass (as an alternative to Password Manager)
An open source password manager that allows you to keep track of your assorted passwords in a secure database, which is locked with a master key or key file.
TrueCrypt (as an alternative to Symantec)
An easy to use security protocol that encrypts any software you may use on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
Website and Application Building
WordPress (as an alternative to Expression Engine)
Why use an expensive CMS or website builder when WordPress allows for the creation of stylish, easy to use sites? WordPress has grown to become one of the most popular website builders on the Internet.
Bloodshed Dev C++ (as an alternative to SlickEdit)
A fully integrated development environment for the C/C++ programming language, utilising Mingw port of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) as its compiler.
Anjuta (as an alternative to SlickEdit)
Another integrated development environment for or C and C++ on GNU/Linux with a number of advanced programming facilities including project management.
Notepad++ (as an alternative to DreamWeaver)
This free source code editor runs on Windows, and claims to reduce emissions due to optimizing many routines in its program.
Eclipse PHP (as an alternative to Zend Studio)
The PDT project provides a PHP Development Tools framework for the Eclipse platform. This project encompasses all development components necessary to develop PHP and facilitate extensibility.
Quanta Plus (as an alternative to DreamWeaver)
A web integrated development environment for or HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, XML and any other XML-based language.
Aptana (as an alternative to DreamWeaver)
A complete web development environment, Aptana Studio combines authoring tools with a series of online hosting services.
NetBeans (as an alternative to DreamWeaver)
Pixlr Editor (as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
Pixlr Editor is a free online photo editor with a professional touch. Fix, adjust and filter your images. Manage your images in your browser.
Photoscape (as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
Rather than spend a lot of money on Photoshop and other Adobe products, Photoscape is a free alternative that allows you to easily edit photos or images.
GIMP (as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
Also known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP allows for easy image composition, retouching and photo authoring. It also works on all operating systems.
Mockingbird (as an alternative to Omnigraffle)
Like Omnigraffle, Mockingbird allows you to create and share mock-ups of a website or an application for colleagues and clients.
Paint.net (as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop)
Although it only runs on Windows, Paint.net is a solid piece of software for free image and photo editing.
Inkscape (as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator)
An open source graphics editor that is similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw. The program allows for the creation of standard Scalable Vector Graphics.
Google Sketchup (as an alternative to 3DMax)
Something different from the usual photo-editing software, Google Sketchup is a 3D modeling software that allows for the creation of online 3D designs for free.
Blender (as an alternative to 3DMax)
An open source 3D content creation suite that works on all major operating systems, Blender can be utilized for modeling, texturing and UV unwrapping.
Boxee (Alternative to Cable TV)
Boxee is the best way to watch movies, TV shows and clips from the Internet on your TV. You can navigate Boxee from your couch, you can use an Apple Remote or one of several PC-remotes available (or even your iPhone).
YouTube Movies (Alternative to Netflix)
An internet phenomen that has grown to incorporate videos of every type, be they home videos, TV shows or full length movies. Ideal for saving money on movie rentals.
Reddit Documentaries (Alternative to Netflix)
Another money-saving tip if you want to watch online documentaries, Reddit’s Documentary subreddit is the place to go for crowd sourced recommendations and links to interesting online videos.
BBC iPlayer (Alternative to UK TV Licence)
If you wish to watch the best of BBC programming on TV, you will need a licence unless you want to incur a hefty fine. However, iPlayer allows you to stream the latest shows online for a week after their release, giving you seven days of the latest must-see TV programmes (and even movies).
Audio and Video
VLC (as an alternative to Quicktime Pro)
A player that is capable of playing almost every file and media codec, the VLC player means that you don’t have to open and close different programs to run DVDs, VCDs, CDs, web streams and other forms of media.
The KMPlayer (as an alternative to Quicktime Pro)
A media player that plays most types of media formats such as VCD, DVD, AVI, MKV, Ogg Theora, OGM, 3GP, MOV, WMV and RealMedia.
Winamp (as an alternative to Quicktime Pro)
A well-established media player, Winamp is beloved by many for its ability to play all sorts of video files and its compact size.
CinePaint (as an alternatve to Adobe Premier Pro)
First created as part of the GIMP project, CinePaint has grown to become an application used by the movie-making community. The application allows for professional graphical editing with support for up to 32-bit colours.
Avidemux (as an alternative to Adobe Premier Pro)
A free video editor that allows for simple cutting of footage and its encoding. The program supports multiple file types including AVI, DVD and MPEG files.
Cinelerra 4.0 (as an alternative to Adobe Premier Pro)
An advanced piece of technology that allows for in-depth video editing including compositing. Compatible with most forms of graphic cards, Cinelerra is one of the most professional open source video editing applications available.
Audacity (as an alternative to Code It Wave Editor)
Audacity allows for easy recording and editing of sound files, as well as the conversion of tapes and other media formats.
Pencil (as an alternative to Pixar Renderman)
If you’re a budding animator, this application is for you. Allowing for the easy creation of four types of layers including graphics, bitmap, camera and sound. Each can be manipulated and removed easily to make silky smooth animations.
Camstudio (as an alternative to AllCapture)
Able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer, CamStudio is an excellent tool to create video files in order to show program or application demonstrations.
Plex (as an alternative to Xbox Media Centre)
If you wish to play your media content on your home theater system as opposed to your Mac, Plex allows you to do so immediately, playing audio, video and photo formats.
Spotify (as an alternative to iTunes)
Rapidly becoming one of the world’s most popular music services, Spotify allows you to access millions of songs for free, but at the price of the occasional advert.
Last.fm (as an alternative to iTunes)
Dubbed “the world’s largest online music catalogue’, Last.FM provides music videos, radio stations and anything else you could possibly want to listen to.
Grooveshark (as an alternative to iTunes)
Available all over the world, Grooveshark is a free music streaming service that allows users to create playlists and search through millions of songs.
MuseScore 0.9.5 (as an alternative to Sibelius 6)
A fully integrated music scorewriter and editor for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac that boasts an unlimited number of staves, up to four voices per staff and easy note entry with mouse, keyboard or MIDI.
Dropbox (as an alternative to Nirvanix)
An easy and efficient way to store, share and sync your files, Dropbox is a cloud service that allows users to access their files anywhere in the world.
37signals Backpack (as an alternative to Nirvanix)
Designed by 37signals, Backpack is a simple business intranet that allows for teams to easily store and retrieve any files or documents they may need. It was declared ‘Editor’s and Reader’s Choice’ by BusinessWeek.
SpiderOak (as an alternative to Norton Online Backup)
An easy and secure free online backup system that allows instant access, sharing and syncing.
CloneZilla (as an alternative to Norton Backup)
An open source solution to backing up your computer should it be corrupted by a virus or other forms of malware. CloneZilla can be used on a single or multiple computers to make sure all your information is backed up securely.
Flickr (as an alternative to PhotoShelter)
Used by companies all over the world to showcase their infographics and images, Flickr is also used my amateur photographers to display their work. Can also be used to source imagery, provided that the author gives the relevant permissions.
Picassa (as an alternative to Photoshelter)
Google’s photo sharing application, Picassa allows users to easily share photos with family and friends.
Microsoft Skydrive (as an alternative to Nirvanix)
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud computing system that allows users to upload files to their profiles and access them anywhere over the internet.
Foxit Reader (as an alternative to Nitro PDF)
Foxit is a free PDF document reader that is an alternative to more expensive PDF readers. Easy to use and fast, Foxit is an essential Windows file reader.
FileZilla (as an alternative to CuteFTP)
This free FTP solution – which consists of FileZilla Client and FileZilla Server – is available on Windows, Linux and the Mac OS X.
Sumatra PDF (as an alternative to Nitro PDF)
A simplistic and easy to use open-source PDF viewer, Sumatra is small, fast and designed for portable use.
Defraggler (as an alternative to Windows System Tools)
Like Window’s Defragging Tool, Defraggler allows you to compress your hard-drive, however it also allows you to defrag the files you want, as opposed to your whole drive.
Brasero (as an alternative to Nero)
For the Gnome Desktop, Brasero allows users to burn CDs and DVDs easily.
Imgburn (as an alternative to Nero)
An application that allows users to burn information to any CD/DVD/Blu Ray and HD DVD easily and efficiently. Not only does it burn information, it reads and verifies it as well.
InfraRecorder (as an alternative to Nero)
A free CD/DVD burning tool for Windows, that is easy to use and is able to be integrated with Windows Explorer.
CDBurnerXP (as an alternative to Nero)
A free application that allows you to burn any CDs or DVDs you wish, as well as the creation of ISOs.
Recuva (as an alternative to RecoverMyFiles.com)
Ever deleted a file by accident? If so then Recuva could be the solution to your problem. The program is designed to ‘undelete’ and ‘unerase’ any file that might have been accidently removed.
OpenVPN (as an alternative to Barracuda SSL VPN)
An open source piece of software that implements virtual private network (VPN) solutions in point-to-point connections.
7-zip (as an alternative to WinZip)
Like WinZip, 7-zip allows for the compressing of files, but unlike WinZip 7-zip can unpack 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR files.
WinRAR (as an alternative to WinZip)
A powerful compressing tool that allows for easy backup and file storage.
CCleaner (as an alternative to Windows Cleanup)
Like ScanDisc on Windows, CCleaner is a system optimization and cleaning program that removes unused files on a system, clearing up hard disk space. It can also erase your Internet browsing history.
Invoice Bubble (as an alternative to Kashflow)
Instead of having numerous invoice documents on your computer, Invoice Bubble allows you to create and store web based invoices, and send them immediately to clients.
Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2009 (as an alternative to Kashflow)
Surprisingly free considering it’s from Microsoft, the Account Express allows small businesses to easily manage their finances by creating invoices and keeping track of sales and refunds.
Paymo (as an alternative to Kashflow)
A free and effective way to keep track of how time is allocated to clients and projects. Also allows for the creation of invoices.
PostBooks (as an alternative to Kashflow)
This open source piece of software allows businesses to fully integrate their accounting at a lower cost. PostBooks features an accounting model with a powerful real-time general ledger, that can be defined with an unlimited number of accounting periods within the fiscal year.
Mint.com (as an alternative to Xero)
By creating an account on Mint.com, you can easily manage all of your personal financial transactions, be it loans, credit cards, savings or investments.
Khan Academy (as an alternative to University)
Khan University is a not-for-profit website that provides education to anyone who needs it wherever they may be. An open source project, the Khan Acadmey, created by Salman Khan, is leading the way for other free classrooms around the world.
iTunes U (as an alternative to University)
Not everyone goes to go to university, but iTunes U allows users to sample some of the best lectures from around the world, including global institutes such as MIT and Standford. The system allows people to download lectures and lessons straight to their iPod or iPhone, so they can listen to them whenever they wish.
Moodle 1.9 (as an alternative to Blackboard Learning System)
An easy-to-use application that lets people create online learning communities, allowing a teacher to potentially reach thousands of students. Moodle also customises online learning by allowing teachers to create modules for pupils all over the world.
Octave 3.0 (as an alternative to MathWorks MATLAB 7.6)
An easy-to-use software that allows students to do numerical computation easily and efficiently. Used worldwide in commercial and traching applications, Octave allows users to do arithmetic using complex interger-valued matrices.
Sakai 2.5 (as an alternative to Blackboard Learning System)
Like Blackboard, Sakai is an open source learning system that allows for collaboration and learning within education communities. However what makes Sakai different from most free education applications, is that many academic institutions have aided in its development.
Sage Math (as an alternative to MathWorks MATLAB 7.6)
Open source mathematics software for advanced theory such as cryptography, algebra and advanced algebra. Sage provides access to other free software applications, such as Octave, for optimum efficiency. The program can be run from a web browser on any operating system.
Flight Gear (as an alternative to Microsoft Flight Similutor)
Gaming is a big part of the digital world, but if many games are out of your price range, then there are a few cheaper options. Flight Gear, for example, is a free open source flight simulator project that can be played on any major operating system.
0 A.D (as an alternative to Age of Empires)
A historical real-time strategy open source project, published by Wildfire Games, that allows the user to build and manage their own ancient world and see it, potentially, grow into an empire.
OpenTTD (as an alternative to Transport Tycoon Deluxe)
OpenTTD is an open source clone of the Microprose game “Transport Tycoon Deluxe”, a popular game originally made by Chris Sawyer. It attempts to mimic the original game as closely as possible whilst also extending it with new features.
Freeciv (as an alternative to Civilization)
Freeciv is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game for workstations and personal computers, inspired by the commercial proprietary Sid Meier’s Civilization series. The game’s default principles are closest to Civilization II, both in gameplay and graphics.