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Essential Software for new computers

Seen 2 months ago
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3rd Age Legacy (122/140)
3rd Age Legacy
122 Posts
Warning level
Joined: 2021-09-29
Many of the things you're going to find on this list is available at
Ninite offers a Check-and-Go installer system that allows you to select all the free
software you want to install simultaneously. This list comprises of mainly free and open-
sourced software. While it offers a nice variety of alternative software, their big-box
counterparts are omitted from their site since there are no free versions, and only maybe
free trials.


Freeware often slips in extra software during their installation processes as a way to
generate revenue for their free product. If you are downloading a program straight from
the client, PAY ATTENTION TO THE DOWNLOAD PROMPTS. You may not notice that you
are agreeing to download a ton of extra, unwanted software.


If you'd like to visit the websites yourself and view the other options of those suggestions, then onto the main thread. Please note these download links are for Windows 10 machines. In no particular order, these are the programs I find most useful on new machines:

  • Alternative web browsers - Microsoft Edge has made improvements after retiring Internet Explorer, but old habits die hard, including the instinct to shred Microsoft web browsers
    • Chrome (free)
      • A note on google: there has been a lot of flack received by google and their methods of handling user data, especially on their search engine. If you're among those concerned about how your data is being used, I suggest checking out
    • Firefox (free)
    • Opera (free)
  • Runtimes - Many website applications and functions that extend beyond simple HTML and CSS will require some extra runtimes to execute. Usually any web browser will alert you when you're missing a necessary runtime, but here's the links if you'd like to be proactive
  • Documents
    • Microsoft Office 365 (paid)
      • This is a paid software. It is very easy to find through alternative means, and there are company deals offered to students, but there are also equally easily acquired free alternatives.
    • OpenOffice (free)
      • This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office as a Windows application.
    • Google Docs (free)
      • This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office as a web-based, cloud application. In the menu, you'll also find Google Sheets (Excel alternative), Google Slides (PowerPoint alternative), and Google Forms (Access alternative).
    • Adobe Acrobat
  • Online Storage - These are essential for backing data up into the cloud. If you have important documents that you cannot afford to lose, it's recommended to keep BOTH a physical hard drive AND a cloud storage backup.
    • Dropbox (paid)
      • This is a paid software. It used to be free, but all that I can find is a standard license for $12.50/month at the time of writing this thread.
    • OneDrive
      • This has a free plan as well as paid plans. The free plan offers 5GB of storage-- you might want to invest in a paid plan if you wish to back up more than like 2 feature length movies.
      • There are alternatives like SugarSync, however, they offer 250GB for $10/month, whereas OneDrive offers 6TB for the same price on a monthly fee, or slightly discounted if you pay for the year AND it comes with Office 365 if you buy the yearly plans.
  • Messaging - It seems most people use discord, and if you're here, you're probably already using it, but just in case:
  • Imaging - Here's where you probably want to invest if you don't know how to acquire software through alternative means. Then again, most people really DON'T need the full power of Photoshop or 3D editing software. As usual with technical software, there are steep discounts for students.
    • Adobe
      • Creative Cloud (paid) - This link will provide you with all the free trials and paid licenses for each of their products within the suite
      • Photoshop (paid)
      • Photoshop CS2 (free) - NO LONGER AVAILABLE. Adobe used to provide a download link for a copy of Photoshop CS2 for free, but this has been removed for their site permanently. I am including this note for those who have seen this offer in the past and are still looking.
    • Paint.NET (free)
      • This is a basic and free photo editing software with an active community that develops plugins, makes tutorials, and provides forum-based help
    • The GIMP (free)
      • Another Photoshop alternative, open sourced, multi-platform
    • Inkscape (free)
      • Adobe Illustrator alternative, open sourced, multi-platform
    • Blender (free)
      • 3D modeling and simulation/animation software, comparable to 3DS Max or Cinema4D
  • File Sharing - There are many useful applications in a casual or professional setting to share files.
    • uTorrent (free)
      • This is really the only platform I've used. If there's better ones, feel free to suggest and I'll include them in the thread.
  • Gaming
    • Steam (free client)
    • EA Origin (free client)
    • (free client)
    • (free client)
      • A fun platform for indie games
    • GOG Galaxy (free client)
      • Good Old Games is a DOS emulator platform for DRM-free retro PC games. These are completely legal to download since they are DRM-free.
  • Developer Tools
  • Media
    • iTunes (free)
    • VLC (free)
      • Highly recommended open source multimedia player. This lets you play pretty much any filetype without the need to convert to mp4, wav, or mov.
    • Spotify (subscription-based)
  • Security - Most anti-virus software is paid, so I'm not going to bother listing them. Yes, there are free versions, but the spamware they use to get you to upgrade is ridiculous, so you should go out there and research what people find works best for them.
    • Malwarebytes (free scan)
      • This program is one of the few that offers a useful deep scan of your computer as well as follow-up procedures to correcting the issues it finds. There are paid versions for continual protection, but their scan and repair service is free, and I've solved one or two malware issues in the past with it.
  • Utilities
    • WinRAR (free)
      • Extremely useful in casual and professional settings. A Windows and OSX machine has native zipping functions, but this program can compile multiple archives, split a large archive, etc. They will always ask you to buy their software when it starts up, but will never remove features if you opt to stay with the free "trial" version (which is, truly, the full version with a "buy now" reminder).
    • Screenshot software
  • Like
Seen 1 month ago
Bronze Warrior (3/5)
Bronze Warrior
3 Posts
Warning level
Joined: 2024-02-23

For new computers, essential software includes antivirus for security, office suite for productivity, web browser for internet access, and media player for entertainment.   Comcast internet service  Additionally, consider utilities like file compression tools and backup software for data management. Tailor your choices based on personal needs, but these basics ensure a smooth computing experience.