I was looking for a list of must-have list of essential free software that you should have on your PC. Although I stumbled across loads of Reddit threads with various recommendations, there was no central list to speak of.

So, I asked for recommendations and have collated them here. A quick caveat though, I haven’t tried a lot of these, but it is a good starting point, if nothing else.

Last updated as of 3pm on 5th Feb 2020.

The first piece of essential free software to download

The general consensus seems to be to start with Ninite - Install and Update All Your Programs at Once. No toolbars. No clicking next. Just pick your apps and go.

Alternatively, File Hippo seems to do something similar. 

Essential free software - Ninite allows you to download without installing toolbars or adware.

Ad blockers / Browser safety:
Ghostery - (download it using FileHippo) - A free and open-source privacy and security-related browser extension and mobile browser application.

uBlock Origin – https://ublock.org/ - Block Ads, Pop Ups, and Trackers. A free and open-source, cross-platform browser extension for content-filtering, including ad-blocking. The extension is available for several browsers: Chrome, Chromium, Edge,Firefox, Opera and releases of Safari prior to 13.

Forum verdict: Use Windows Defender
AVG Anti-virus (download it using Ninite)

Audio Software:
Audacity (download it using Ninite)

Exact Audio Copy – http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/en/index.php/resources/download/ - A CD ripping program for Microsoft Windows. It has also been tested to work under newer versions of Wine on Linux (aka: It’s the mutt’s nuts for ripping your CDs to digital, pulling in track data from the net and verifying an accurate rip.)

MP3 Gain – http://mp3gain.sourceforge.net/download.php - Levels out all mp3s files to the same volume.

Mp3tag – (download it using FileHippo) - a powerful and easy-to-use tool to edit metadata of audio files.

Reaper Audio Workstation - (download it using FileHippo - A fully loaded digital audio studio. Import any audio and MIDI, synthesize, sample, compose, arrange, edit, mix, and master. (Technically a 60 day trial, all it does at the end of that is add a 5 second nag screen before you can continue without limitations.)

Brave - download using FileHippo - A free and open-source web browser developed by Brave Software, Inc. based on the Chromium web browser. The browser blocks ads and website trackers, and provides a way for users to send cryptocurrency contributions in the form of Basic Attention Tokens to websites and content creators.

Chrome (download it using Ninite) – Warning from TheInformer: “NOT chrome unless you want your data stolen.” Google is evil, etc.

DuckDuckGo – https://duckduckgo.com/app - Seamlessly take control of your personal information, no matter where the Internet takes you.

Ice Dragon (Fast, secure and feature-rich Internet browser based on Firefox: https://www.comodo.com/home/browsers-toolbars/icedragon-browser.php or download using FileHippo

Vivaldi - download using FileHippo - Vivaldi is a freeware, cross-platform web browser developed by Vivaldi Technologies, a company founded by Opera Software co-founder and former CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Tatsuki Tomita(aka: the updated Opera 12 experience.)

E-Book Management:
Calibre - download using FileHippo – A complete e-book library manager that lets you totally organize your collection. With Calibre you can convert your books to multiple formats, and then sync with all of your devices.

Email Clients:
Eudora - download using FileHippo - A powerful email management tool with features to increase your productivity and enhance your communications. Includes ScamWatch which combats “phishing” schemes that use disguised URL’s to gather personal information. Eudora now detects if the URL in the link differs suspiciously from the host name and warns you to exercise caution before making the connection.

Pandora – http://www.drivehq.com/web/brana/pandora.htm – The successor to Eudora, apparently.

Thunderbird by Mozilla - (download it using Ninite) - A free and open-source, cross-platform email client, news client, RSS, and chat client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Modelled after the Mozilla Firefox web browser.

File Copying:
Robocopy - A good way to copy files on a PC (If anyone has a download link for this, please let me know – A quick Google seems to indicate that it might just be a built-in feature to Microsoft, but if not, let me know and I’ll update the OP.

Teracopy – https://www.codesector.com/teracopy - A program that will copy files faster than windows does.

File Hosting / Storage & Syncing / Back-up:
Dropbox- (download it using Ninite) – A way to store, share and access all of your files securely.Get 2 GB of space for free – Paid for after that.

Evernote - download it using Ninite) – An app designed for note taking, organizing, task management, and archiving. The Free version seems quite restrictive. Paid for versions also available which offer more.

FreeFileSync- FileHippo - A free and open-source program used for file synchronization. The project is backed by donations. Donors get a few additional features such as an auto-updater, parallel sync, portable version, and silent installation

Google Backup and Sync - (download it using Ninite) - Upload and store files from any folder on your computer, camera, and SD cards in the cloud. Your first 15 GB of storage are free – Paid for after that.

SyncToy – FileHippo - A free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows, is an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories.

File Manager:
Freecommander - download using FileHippo - An easy-to-use alternative to the standard windows file manager that allows file renaming.

SyncToy – FileHippo - A free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows, is an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories.

Total Commander – https://www.ghisler.com/download.htm - A file manager replacement for Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7.

File Renaming:
Bulk Rename Utility –https://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/Download.php -The Free File Renaming Utility for Windows - Rename multiple files with the click of a button

Freecommander - download using FileHippo - An easy-to-use alternative to the standard windows file managerthat allows file renaming.

File Sharing:

In the interest of keeping this thread alive, please only discuss legal, free-to-use software and NOT ways to get legal software illegally!

qBitTorrent - (download it using Ninite) - A cross-platform free and open-source BitTorrent client.

Tixati- download using FileHippo - A powerful P2P System 100% Free, Simple and Easy to Use Bittorrent Client Contains NO Spyware and NO Ads.

uTorrent – Not recommended to use anything other than really old versions due to Adware, Bloatware etc.

Graphics software:
Blender -(download it using Ninite) - A free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, and computer games

Signal –https://signal.org/download/ - A cross-platform encrypted messaging service that uses the Internet to send one-to-one and group messages, which can include files, voice notes, images and videos for confidential messaging.

Telegram - (download it using FileHippo) - A cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service. Users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers, audio and files of any type.

Music Player:
VLC - (download it using Ninite)

Foobar2000 - (download it using Ninite) - foobar2000 is a freeware audio player.

Office Suites – Alternatives to Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc:
LibreOffice - (download it using Ninite) - Free office suite, open source, and compatible with .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, .pptx files.

Password Managers:
Keepass - (download it using Ninite)

PDF viewers and editors:
DoPDF - download using FileHippo - Free PDF printer you can use to create PDF from any printable document.

Foxit - (download it using Ninite) - Software and tools used to create, edit, sign, and secure files and digital documents.

Phone to PC sync / transfer:

Airdroid - Access Android phone/tablet from computer remotely and securely. Manage SMS, files, photos and videos, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat and more on computer. Basic (free) plan allows you to transfer files across devices, control mobile devices remotely, receive and reply to messages on computer.

Photo & Image Editors:
Irfanview – (download it using Ninite) - An image viewer, editor, organiser and converter program for Microsoft Windows. It can also play video and audio files, and has some image creation and painting capabilities.

GIMP - (download it using Ninite) – A cross-platform image editor.

Raw Therapee – https://rawtherapee.com/downloads/ - For photo editing. RawTherapee is a free, cross-platform raw image processing program.

Paint.net - (download it using Ninite) - Image and photo editing software for PCs that run Windows.

Spyware / Adware removal / PC Cleaner:
CCleaner - CCleaner, developed by Piriform, is a utility used to clean potentially unwanted files and invalid Windows Registry entries from a computer. – https://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner/download

Glary - (download it using Ninite) - Powerful and All-in-one utility for cleaning your PC.

MalwareBytes - (download it using Ninite) - An anti-malware softwarethat finds and removes malware.

Revo Uninstaller- (download it using Ninite) - An uninstaller for Microsoft Windows. It uninstalls programs and additionally removes any files and Windows registry entries left behind by the program’s uninstaller or by the Windows uninstall function.

RKIll – https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/rkill/ -A program that was developed at BleepingComputer.com that attempts to terminate known malware processes so that your normal security software can then run and clean your computer of infections.

Spybot 2 Search & Destroy – Anti Malware - (download it using Ninite) - A spyware and adware removal computer program. Spybot scans the computer hard disk and/or RAM for malicious software.

SUPERAntiSpyware - (download it using Ninite) - A software application which can detect and remove spyware, adware, trojan horses, rogue security software, computer worms, rootkits, parasites and other potentially harmful software applications.

WinPatrol – (download using FileHippo - Alerts you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission.

Text and Source Code editors:
Notepad++ - (download it using Ninite) - A text and source code editor for use with Microsoft Windows. (It supports tabbed editing, which allows working with multiple open files in a single window., especially once you add a few plugins to do things like managing sessions and language-specific syntax highlighting.)

Visual Code Studio - (download it using Ninite) - A code editor redefined and optimized for building and debugging modern web and cloud applications. (aka: If you do any type of coding, or text file editing it’s brilliant.)

Video Editing:
DaVinci Resolve 16– https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/products/davinciresolve/ - A colour correction and non-linear video editing application. (Claims to be the world’s only solution that combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production all in one software tool!)

Handbrake - (download it using Ninite) - Convert video from almost any format to a plethora of widely supported and up-to-date codecs including DVD to MPEG-4 converter

Browsec – https://browsec.com/en/ – Free VPN(You can use Browsec free plan as long as you want without any restrictions.

TunnelBear - download using FileHippo - Really simple VPN to browse the web privately & securely. (Only free for up to 500MB of secure browsing per month. Paid only after that.)

Zip extractors:
7-Zip (download it using Ninite)

Auslogic’s Disk Defrag - (download it using FileHippo) - A compact and fast defragmentation tool that supports both FAT 16/32, and NTFS file systems. It’s supplied with advanced disk optimization techniques, which will remedy your system sluggishness and crashes caused by disk fragmentation.

Autoruns - download using FileHippo - Displays everything that runs automatically when Windows starts — and we mean everything.

BurnAware – https://www.burnaware.com/ - A full-featured and free burning software to create CD, DVD and Blu-ray of all types, including M-Disc.

Crystal Disk Info – https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskinfo/ - A HDD/SSD utility software which supports a part of USB, Intel/AMD RAID and NVMe(which apparently translates to “for catching any problems with your drives.”)

Decrapifier – https://filehippo.com/download_the-pc-decrapifier/ - Removes all the not-needed free pre-loaded crap.

Deskpins – https://efotinis.neocities.org/deskpins/ - Allows you to force any window to always be ‘on top’. Useful for watching sport and stuff when you are doing other stuff so you don’t keep losing the video behind other windows you are working on.

Ditto – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/ditto-clipboard/9nblggh3zbjq?activetab=pivot:overviewtab - Ditto is an extension to the standard windows clipboard. It saves each item placed on the clipboard allowing you access to any of those items at a later time.

Everything Search – https://www.voidtools.com/ - The quickest way to search for stuff on your PC. Practically instant results.

Explorer++ – https://explorerplusplus.com/ - A small and fast file manager for Windows. With tabs, bookmarks and advanced file operations, it allows you to be much more productive.

F.lux - download using FileHippo - A cross-platform computer program that adjusts a display’s color temperature according to location and time of day, offering functional respite for the eyes. The program is designed to reduce eye strain during night-time use, helping to reduce disruption of sleep patterns.

Grammarly - A free browser add-on which automatically checks spelling and grammar wherever you type. Check out my Grammarly review.

Greenshot - (download it using Ninite) - A free screenshot tool optimized for productivity.

Photosift – https://www.rlvision.com/photosift/about.php - PhotoSift is a free utility helping you to quickly organize unsorted image libraries. (A piece of software that can collate images from multiple sources, remove duplicates and categorise them then output them into individual folders)

QTTabBar – https://sourceforge.net/projects/qttabbar/ - An extension for Windows Explorer that brings tabbed browsing to Microsoft’s file browser - Have your Window File Explorer windows as tabs.

Twint- https://github.com/twintproject/twint - Download full twitter accounts, not the 3.2k limit the twitter API has.

Unchecky – https://unchecky.com/ - Automatically unchecks any “download this toolbar too!” boxes when you download software.

WinDirStat – Disk Usage Stats - It shows you the folders and files that take up all the space on your hard drive when you need to clean it up (download using Ninite)

Youtube-dl https://github.com/ytdl-org/youtube-dl - Download full YouTube channels –either video or audio as well as Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud and more at the click of some code.

Do you know of any other free pieces of software that should go here? If so, contact me and let me know!

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