In order to work properly with the PC, a solid software basis is essential. In addition to purchased software, free programs from the Internet do their job reliably. Open source programs take a special approach: They are not only free, their source code is also open - which makes their programming method traceable. This makes you independent of programs that can be very expensive. In the overview you will find a wide range of tools that have earned a place on the hard drive or SSD.
The best open source programs at a glance
Open source software protects against espionage
A practical side effect of the openness of open source programs: smuggling in espionage functions, for example by the NSA, is at least difficult. After all, experienced users with programming knowledge could notice such an intervention. Since the source code can be viewed, users are free to find bugs and contribute to improving the programs: Those who have the knowledge can modify open source programs and pass them on in modified form. The source code of software projects is available on GitHub: Microsoft took over the platform in 2018 for 7.5 billion dollars. On GitHub you will not only find source code, but also the associated programs for download. But you can also use the photo gallery above to download practical open source applications - which is clearer than the Microsoft platform, where the choice is overwhelming.
Work: browser, office, file management
Firefox trumps with good technology and high expandability. With regard to the latter, you can customize the browser with add-ons and interface adjustments (move icons).
Paid software is not necessary for a PC to survive in everyday office life - perhaps apart from the operating system. LibreOffice and OpenOffice are free program packages that include word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software with all the important modules. Both open, create and edit Microsoft Office files without any problems and also convert content into PDF format. LibreOffice is more modern, and OpenOffice has been on the market longer. You get a good replacement for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge with Mozilla's Firefox: In addition to the fast and easily adaptable browser, the many extensions are open source for it. Since Edge is based on Chromium in newer versions, Firefox is a real alternative to Chrome in contrast to Chrome; Firefox uses the Gecko rendering engine and not Chromium technology like most browsers; Chrome is not open source at all. Thunderbird is also from Mozilla: With the program you receive, manage and send e-mails. Since version 38, Thunderbird also helps with appointment management; and version 60 introduced sorting of e-mail attachments to be sent. PDFsam is also useful, it is used to split and merge PDFs. That shows Sumatra PDF with little resource requirements - and even comic book format files. You can also open PDFs with Chromium, which is the original Google Chrome and opens websites quickly.
Tuning: Free up storage space and speed reserves
Keeps the PC in good shape: Daphne ends memory hogs and frees up resources.
If the PC paralyzes and is therefore no longer fun to use, tuning tools are a remedy. The programs also help against memory shortages - with hard drives as well as SSDs. After sorting, Daphne clearly shows the strongest RAM / CPU consumers among each other. With a click you finish what should be out of the RAM. The Daphne function is practical to determine the process name of a window: To do this, use the crosshair function to aim at the latter. The Double Commander can be used relatively safely for clearing out a PC: In the file manager, thanks to a two-window view, you can conveniently juggle files from several folders. Thanks to the sorting according to file size, the hungriest memory hogs can be found quickly. Delete them if there is insufficient capacity. Ditto optimizes the clipboard: Windows normally only records one data record copied with Ctrl-C (exception: Windows 10 1809 and higher thanks to the drilled clipboard function), thanks to the tool there can be quite a few. In this way, you no longer lose any memory contents if you first cache a text and then, for example, an image. The Free Download Manager (FDM) facilitates file downloads from the Internet, is supposed to do this particularly quickly and downloads YouTube videos.
Security: no chance for data thieves
Off to nirvana: hard drive data that Eraser erases can no longer be recovered.
If you put a file in the Windows Recycle Bin and empty it, the hard drive object is gone - but only visually. In many cases, a recovery is possible with special software. If you want to rule out data recovery, you need Eraser: The program removes files from hard drives (not SSDs) so thoroughly that they disappear forever. DBAN even deletes all disk contents before the device is sold. VeraCrypt protects against data access by third parties: You can use it to create password-protected containers. Files that you deposit in it only open after entering a secret word. This even protects against encryption Trojans. And VeraCrypt can protect better than BitLocker: This has been in higher-quality Windows editions since Vista - but if you have locked Windows start with a password, any data is freely accessible after entering a password (unlike with VeraCrypt containers, similar to folders). If you want to maximize data protection, you should secure your Facebook and e-mail accounts with complex passwords. Can't remember a lot of passwords? Password Safe comes in handy: the tool stores your access data in a secure database. KeePass is comparable, both password managers generate extra complex passwords. You save the latter in the password manager; you can also save your own log-in phrases in it.
The 55 most important programs for your Windows PC
By the way: Since 2004, Software Freedom Day has been held on September 15th each year. The day of action honors the success of free software. Prominent companies such as Google, Sun and Canonical (Linux-Ubuntu main sponsor) support the event.