Why go with free software?

I’ve mentioned several times about free software alternatives to popular software.  Why bother?  Well, many people don’t realize that when you borrow your friend’s Microsoft Office disc to install on your computer, you’re committing software piracy.  The way most software is licensed, you may only install it on one computer at a time.  If you want it on two, you have to buy another copy (or license).

In most cases I recommend free software whenever possible to keep costs down for my clients while still providing them with the tool to do the job.

Let’s start with antivirus software.  I can think of several off the top of my head for Windows:  Microsoft Security Essentials (my current preference), avast! Free (my previous preference and fall-back when Security Essentials won’t work), AVG Free, Avira Anti-Vir, and ClamWin (the only open source program on this list).  Except for ClamWin, I’ve used or have clients who use each of them.  There are pros and cons to each, but they are all very effective at their job and remain completely free anyway.  I even recommend these over commercial products like Norton and McAfee.  I don’t recommend ClamWin as it doesn’t run in the background to catch anything coming into your system; you would have to manually check everything.

Previously I mentioned OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice.  Need to edit pictures?  You could organize them with Picasa or you could do complex editing with GIMP instead of the expensive Adobe Photoshop.

Pretty much any commercial software package has a free alternative.  Need help finding one?  Try alternativeTo.  Just type a software title into its search and it will give you a list of free and non-free suggestions.  The neatest thing I’ve found on that site was some music scoring software a client wanted.  After searching for a couple of popular commercial titles, MuseScore came up.

The upshot of all this is you don’t have to be a software pirate to get your work done.  There is likely to be a free alternative that will work fairly well for most of what you want the software to do

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