9 Free Alternatives to Expensive Computer Programs

We all want the best of the best when it comes to computer programs, but the fact is that the "best" usually comes with a high price tag. If you don't have a ton of money to spare on software, there are some cheap ways to still get what you need out of your computer. Here are nine free alternatives to expensive computer programs that you can use in the meantime.

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Free Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)

When you buy a new Windows computer, it should come with a version of Microsoft Office already installed. This will either be a free trial that will expire over time or a version of Microsoft Office Starter, which will limit what you can do in each of the programs. If you do not want to pay for the full version of Office, you could opt for Apache OpenOffice. This is a free, opensource platform that should cover all of your MS Office needs. If you just need MS Word, try AbiWord for your word processor instead.

Total Savings: $115

Free Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is used to edit photos and create powerful graphics on the computer. It is the go-to program for graphic designers, photographers, and artists alike, but it has a price tag most people aren't willing to pay for. You can opt for a new program called Adobe Creative Cloud, where you pay $50 a month for full access to nearly all of Adobe's software, including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Muse, and more. If you don't want to pay that though, programs like GIMP and SumoPaint provide nearly the same options as Photoshop, without the high price. Both are free to use, and you can even use SumoPaint online without having to download it.

Total Savings: $300

Free Media Player

Most of us use the media players built into our computers because they work for basic needs. If you want to play a file that is in a unique format though, you may be forced to pay for a media player or buy a file converter to watch the video with your existing player. VLC Media Player is the solution to all of that. It plays just about any file extension you can think of, all with stunning clarity. It works on all platforms and is 100% free to download.

Total Savings: $50-$100

Free Internet Security

It's always a good idea to invest in quality internet security because it will act as a major source of protection for your computer. If you cannot afford to spend money on Kaspersky or the paid versions of AVG, Norton, etc., there are some free options that can get you by in the meantime. For a free antivirus program, try something like Panda Free Antivirus 2015. For free malware protection, use MalwareBytes. For free adware protection, download Ad-Aware. For free spyware protection, use SpyBot Search and Destroy. We could keep going, but your computer should be pretty safe from there.

Total Savings: Varies