Computers would be nothing but expensive metal boxes and plastic boxes with expensive silicone parts inside them. But finding great software is not all that easy, especially if you also want to pay as little money as possible. In this article, we describe a simple method how to download the best software of 2018 for free, and we also recommend top 10 best software applications that you can use as alternatives to paid applications.
How to Download Software for Free
There are many sites on the internet that offer software for free, but not many are as trustworthy as they promise to be. Software download sites have been caught distributing malware, running cryptocurrency mining scripts, or charging hidden fees for their services.
The good news is that software download sites aren’t your only option how to download software for free. The peer-to-peer file sharing protocol BitTorrent is used by millions of people worldwide to transfer digital content, with some sources estimating that it’s responsible for as much as 70 percent of all internet traffic.
1. Download a BitTorrent Client.
Before you can download any software application using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, you’ll first need a BitTorrent client. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of BitTorrent clients that you can study for reference. We recommend qBittorrent, Transmission, Vuze, uTurrent and Folx, but as long as you choose a popular and well-maintained BitTorrent client you should be fine.
2. (Optional) Use a VPN Service to Hide your IP Address.
The BitTorrent protocol wasn’t designed with anonymity in mind. When downloading files over BitTorrent, your real IP address is clearly visible to other users of the network, your internet service provider, or the government. If you’re not comfortable sharing your download history with the whole world, it’s highly advisable that you hide your real IP address using a VPN (virtual private network) service.
A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. There are many VPN services out there, some free and some not. The most popular VPN services include NordVPN, Private Internet Access, PureVPN, Cargo VPN, and others.
3. Download a Torrent File.
With a BitTorrent client installed, the next step is to find a torrent of interest and open it using your BitTorrent client. You can find torrent files for most popular software applications on RARGB, The Pirate Bay, 1337x, and other major torrent trackers and search engines. Keep in mind that not all torrents on popular torrent trackers and search engines are guaranteed to be legal, which is why you should always double-check that you’re not breaking any laws.
Professional software applications will always have their place, but sometimes applications that are free are just as good. That’s why we’ve put together a list of best free software downloads for 10 different software categories, starting with a category virtually everyone has at least some experience with: file management.
Windows Explorer is a handy and very easy to use file manager, but it has one critical flaw: it can open only the ZIP file archive format. It’s only a matter of time before a RAR or 7z file archive arrives in your inbox, and 7-Zip is how we recommend you open it. This free and open source file archiver supports the packing of 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, and WIM and the unpacking of AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR, and Z.
7-Zip works on all recent version of Windows, and a command line port of the application, called p7zip, is available on Linux. 7-Zip has been translated into all major languages, and its lead developer, Igor Pavlov, has been working on the application for almost 20 years now. The next time you see an ad for a commercial file archiver, remember that 7-Zip can do the same for free.
Notepad is a handy little text editor. It opens instantly, reliably reads all text files, and has a few basic features to satisfy the needs of casual Windows users. It’s almost a shame that Notepad isn’t slightly more capable because it would then be an excellent alternative to heavy-duty text editors such as Sublime Text or Atom. Well, Notepad2-mod allows you to replace Notepad with a modified version that supports code folding, bookmarks, word auto-completion, syntax highlighting, NFO ANSI art, and several other features.
Notepad2-mod is an open-source project developed by a group of independent developers on GitHub, and it runs on all version of the Windows operating system from Windows XP to Windows 10. During the installation of Notepad2-mod, you can choose to replace Notepad using a clean, unintrusive registry-based method, and we highly recommend you check it because Notepad2-mod is just like Notepad—only more capable.
Malwarebytes is a comprehensive anti-malware solution from an American Internet security company. Malwarebytes offers multi-device protection for businesses and home users alike, and it’s available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
The free version of Malwarebytes can detect the same threats as the paid version, but not in real-time. Paid version of Malwarebytes protects in real-time against viruses, malware infections, spyware, and even ransomware attacks. It shields programs and system from hackers and enables users to safely browse the web.
Unless you use your computer for work or have some other reason to improve your cyber defenses, you’re probably fine using the free version of Malwarebytes, especially because it plays nicely with Windows Defender and other free real-time antivirus software solutions.
Steam is the leading digital distribution platform for games. It’s owned and operated by Valve Corporation, the developers of Half-Life. The service has over 150 million registered users, and it’s available on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
If you’re an avid PC gamer, Steam is worth it just for the excellent deals alone. Steam sales happen multiple times every year, with the Steam Summer Sale and Steam Winter Sale being especially juicy. Some popular games are discounted by as much as 90 percent, making them irresistible. Some gamers love Steam sales so much that they only purchase games that are on sale on Steam.
Besides amazing deals, Steam also has countless features that add value and make the service that much more attractive. They include automatic updating of games, cloud saving, community features such as friends lists and groups, in-game voice chat, and access to user-created content through Steam Workshop.
Windows Paint is good for doodles and memes, but it’s far less useful as a simple photo editing application because it lacks support for layers, among many other things. If you don’t like the idea of having to learn how to use Photoshop just to remove a distracting object from the background or adjust the brightness of your pictures, Paint.NET is the ideal replacement for Microsoft Paint.
This simple yet easy to use image editing software has all the essential features of Photoshop or GIMP but without any of their inaccessibility. What’s more, it’s also completely free and available in multiple languages. You can also purchase Paint.NET on the Windows Store to support its future development and seamlessly receive updates.
Wox is an excellent launcher for Windows. Don’t think of it as a replacement for the Start menu. Instead, think of Wox as an alternative way how to find applications, locate files, search the web, or make calculations. You can invoke Wox with a simple shortcut and extend the application with all sorts of crazy plugins. Wox can be themed, and you can also customize just about every aspect of this excellent, fast, and highly versatile launcher. If you do a lot of typing on your computer, having Wox just a simple shortcut away allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard and thus be more productive.
PotPlayer is our favorite multimedia player because it provides maximum performance with its enhanced hardware acceleration while looking sleek and polished. This modern multimedia player for the Windows operating system supports several types of 3D glasses, hardware acceleration with DXVA, CUDA, and QuickSync, stylized subtitles, and just about any codec you can think of.
The only thing we don’t like about PotPlayer is the fact that it isn’t open source, which is why you might also want to consider VLC as an equally capable but considerably worse looking alternative to PotPlayer.
Most people don’t need a professional digital audio workstation to edit audio files. The average podcast creator or student wants something that’s free, easy to use, runs on all major operating systems, and supports multi-track editing. Audacity fits the bill perfectly, which is why we don’t hesitate to recommend it to audio professionals and amateurs alike.
Besides its built-in audio editing tools, Audacity also supports LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and Audio Unit effect plug-ins, making it nearly infinitely extendable. You can preview audio effects in real-time, manipulate tracks using the keyboard, and switch to a special spectrogram view for visualizing and selecting frequencies, just to name a few of Audacity’s most interesting features.
Darktable is a photo editor for photographers who shoot in RAW file formats. It manages your digital negatives in a database and lets you make changes to them without modifying the original files. Darktable runs on Windows, macOS, and most popular distributions of the Linux operating system. The application is open source and developed by a community of enthusiastic developers, testers, and translators from around the world.
Considering that Darktable’s biggest competition is Lightroom from Adobe, a professional photo editing application that costs nearly $200 per year, we think that all Darktable users should donate at least a few dollars to help keep this excellent project afloat.