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One of the great things about having a PC is all the free software options. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices, so knowing which are the best is essential. Below, we’ve listed (in no particular order) the best free software recommended by a renowned Chicago software company that all PC owners should have.

Google Chrome

The Google Chrome browser is our pick because it’s super-speedy and includes a vast library of extensions that increase its functionality, so it works almost like a desktop. You also get great little conveniences like being able to search Google for an image instantly. Furthermore, it features cross-platform syncing that allows you to open your desktop tabs on your phone and vice-versa.

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Microsoft Defender

The best antivirus software is Microsoft Defender because it includes sandboxing and cloud-based malware detection, which increases your overall protection and makes threat-detection faster. And it won’t slow down your system.

It comes built-in with Windows 10 and is enabled by default, so you don’t have to do anything. It will automatically scan any program you open and automatically download new definitions from Windows Update. Additionally, it has an interface you can use for in-depth scans.

Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is the most popular anti-malware software for PC, and it works well in conjunction with Microsoft Defender. This program detects and removes malware from your system through a manually activated scanner. It also installs easily with no reboot required and uses minimal resources, so you can do other things on your PC while the software is in use. 

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LibreOffice

If you don’t want to pay for Microsoft Office Suite, but you still want to be able to create documents and spreadsheets, then LibreOffice is the solution for you. It’s remarkably similar to Microsoft Office with only a few aesthetic differences. It allows you to perform all the same functions as Microsoft Docs, Excel, and Access.

Paint.NET

With so much of what we do online being visual, you’ll likely need a photo editor at some point. Paint.NET is an excellent tool for photo manipulation, blurring, and retouching. Its interface is simple and easy to understand, and you have the option of adding plugins to increase the tool’s functionality.

VLC

With the ubiquity of YouTube, you probably don’t watch videos on your desktop all that often. However, it’s still a good idea to have a media player handy. VLC is a great media player because it’s able to play pretty much every video format.

7-Zip

Windows comes with its own tool for handling simple zipped files, but for anything beyond the basics, you’ll need a more powerful tool. 7-Zip is an excellent tool for file compression and extraction. It takes up very little CPU and installs quickly. It’s also easy to use and features advanced functions like strong AES-256 encryption and Unicode file names.

Rambox

You probably use at least one messaging application to communicate with your friends and family. However, chances are you’ve got multiple messaging services. If this is the case and you want to simplify your life, you should use Rambox. Rambox lets you add accounts from a variety of different messaging services, including Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Discord, and more. The app keeps things organized with a tab for each service so you can keep up with each one from a single window.

Ninite

Ninite is a simple way to download the latest version of any application you want and have it be free of crapware. Every app you could want is a click away and free of charge. You can download multiple programs in minutes, and Ninite proactively monitors the programs you’ve installed to warn you about updates.

File History

It’s never a bad idea to have a backup. With File History, Windows 10 users can keep full, incremental, accessible copies of their files. File History works by taking snapshots of your files, so with a single click, you can go back to older versions. However, you will need a second hard drive (internal, external, or over a network).

To get started with File History click Start > Settings > Update & Security > Backup. If you haven’t set up “Back up Using File History,” you need to click the button marked “Add a Drive” to specify the backup drive you want to use. Then let it run. After the first run, you will get a slider with “Automatically back up my file.” This option will make backups happen automatically. When you want to retrieve an old version, you go to File Explorer, right-click a file, and choose Properties > Previous Versions.