Some of the programs below are also available on The Open Disc. This is a collection of 30 or so free open source programs for use on Windows. Programs are available to be downloaded individually too.
Please click on one of the subsections below or scroll down the page.
Antivirus & Internet Security Products:
- AVG Free Edition: Free anti-virus software. The Trust highly recommends that everyone has some form of anti-virus software installed on their computer. AVG stays up-to-date by quietly downloading updates whenever you're connected to the internet. The free version of this software provides basic virus protection for your computer, along with a linkscanner which protects users against visiting potentially unsafe websites. You can opt to upgrade and get extra features (at a cost) if you wish.
- Sophos: Subscription based Unified Threat Management (UTM) for PC, Mac and Linux based systems. Therefore includes antivirus, firewall and other security products. The Trust uses and recommends Sophos products and software; it is possibly one of the best UTM systems on the market. A free trial can be downloaded from the vendor's website.
- Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE): Free anti-virus software available for Windows Vista and Windows 7. It is very clean, quick, unintrusive and is suitable for most home computers. Windows 10 and 8 / 8.1 users do not need MSE as it is integrated into Windows Defender (included with the operating system).
- Zonealarm Free Firewall: Free firewall which blocks inbound and outbound traffic threats and makes you invisible to hackers. This free firewall is better than the default one that comes with Windows based operating systems. However, you only usually need this software if you connect directly to the internet (i.e. through a modem in or attached to your computer, via a mobile phone, etc). If you are a home user connecting through a wired or wireless computer network, then your router should already have sufficient firewall capabilities already installed. This link will take you to the main commercial website.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: Free anti-malware tool which removes unwanted programmes from your computer, such as tracking cookies, diallers and advertising software. Such things can slow your computer down significantly and make your computer susceptible to viruses and hackers. It is recommended that you use this programme in additional to an antivirus product. Malwarebytes also offer other security programmes, at a small cost.
- Spybot - Search & Destroy: Similar to Malwarebytes. Spybot is a free anti-spyware tool. No anti-malware programme can detect all threats, so it's often a good idea to have more than one installed.
Office Based Tools:
- Microsoft Office Online: You can now use Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint for free online through your web browser. However, they are stripped down versions of the full programmes, but allow for light / basic usage. The free versions are online only and do not allow you download / install the programmes directly onto your computer. You will need to use your existing, or set up a new Microsoft account in order to use these programmes.
- Abi Word: Free word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks. It will work on some older machines when OpenOffice may be slow.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader DC: Free program that allows you to read PDF (portable document format) files. PDF files are generally used for sending, receiving and reading documents due to their file compression capabilities and use of a "standard" file format that everyone can read. Adobe Acrobat Reader DC does not let you create or edit PDF files however. If you wish to do this and much more, you will need to purchase Adobe Acrobat DC.
- Cute PDF Writer: Free program which allows you to create PDF files. Note that once you have installed the program, it will be listed under your printers. To create a PDF, you must select the "Cute PDF Writer" as your printer. Users should note to change the printer settings when creating a PDF, to significantly reduce file sizes. Reducing the dpi setting to around 144 will usually suffice for the majority of documents. This can usually be found under "Print" » "Properties" » "Advanced" buttons.
If you already own a copy of Adobe Acrobat DC, you will not require this programme. Instead you should use the "Adobe Acrobat Distiller" program to convert documents to PDF format.
- PDF Converter: An online PDF converter tool which has the ability to convert PDF documents to Microsoft Word file format. It includes native and scanned document conversion without any file size restrictions. It is an online tool, which means that you do not need to downlaod and install software to use it. There is also a free PDF to Excel converter, and a free PDF to PowerPoint converter available.
- LibreOffice: Very similar to Apache OpenOffice (below), completely free and recommended over Apache OpenOffice.
- Apache OpenOffice: Free, open-source software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases, etc used as an alternative to Microsoft Office. It can create and read files saved in Microsoft Office formats (.doc, .docx, etc), has many similar features and saves files by default in its own .odf format.
- PowerISO: A powerful CD / DVD / BD image file processing tool, which allows you to open, extract, burn, create, edit, compress, encrypt, split and convert ISO files, and mount ISO files with an internal virtual drive. It can process almost all CD / DVD / BD image files including ISO and BIN files. PowerISO provides an all-in-one solution. You can do every thing with your ISO files and disc image files. You can use the free version or purchase it to open up more features.
- 7-zip: A file archiver with a high compression ratio. This can be used to shrink the file-size of attachments you wish to send via e-mail. 7-zip is completely free to download and use.
- LogMeIn Hamachi: A hosted VPN (virtual private network) service that lets you securely extend LAN-like capabilities between different computers via the internet. This is particularly useful if you need to access your office computer when you are at home, or if you need to quickly and securely share documents with other computers that are not on the same physical network as you. The free version limits the number of computers allowed on the network.
- Java: A program that is almost mandatory on any form of electronic equipment that runs software. It can be found on computers, mobile phones, TV's, DVD / Blu-Ray players, Sat-nav's and much more. Without it you may not be able to run certain videos or use interactive websites.
However, Java is susceptable to security vulnerabilities and therefore it is very important that the software is kept up-to-date on your computer, and any old versions removed. Updates are released regularly, so you should frequently check this page to ensure that your version is kept up-to-date.
Cloud Based Services:
- Dropbox: A cloud based file storage service which allows you to centrally store your documents and access them from any internet connected computer, mobile phone or tablet. You can also share your documents easily with others and set permissions. The free version gives you a limited amount of storage space, or you can opt to pay for more.
Please note that there are security implications with cloud based storage technologies, so it is recommended that you do not store any sensitive data on these cloud based services. Although you can now get "Dropbox for business" at a significant cost.
- Microsoft Live: Setting up a Microsoft account grants you access to Outlook.com (formally hotmail) which is a web based e-mail client, along with many other cloud based services such as "OneDrive". OneDrive is similar in function to Dropbox (above) and offers slightly more storage space for free. OneDrive also incorporates basic Word, Excel, PowerPoint,etc functionality into your web browser, meaning that you can create and edit Microsoft Office documents through a web based service, rather than install word processing tools on your computer. However, the functionality is limited and you must purchase Microsoft Office if you wish to get full functionality.
It is free to set up a Microsoft account, and services such as Outlook.com and OneDrive are also free (though if you need additional storage space on OneDrive, you must pay a small monthly subscription).
- SpiderOak: Probably the most secure, free cloud based service available. If you are concerned about who might have access to your data stored in the cloud, then SpiderOak is likely to be the best, free option. The free version gives you a limited amount of storage space (currently 2GB), or you can opt to pay a small monthly fee for increased storage space.
- Google Drive: Like the other cloud based service providers shown above, Google have their own cloud based storage service; "Google Drive". Google Drive offers the most amount of free space compared to its competitors above (currently 15GB), and is very competitive on price for additional storage.
- Mozilla Thunderbird: Free e-mail and newsgroup client from Mozilla. Good alternative to Microsoft Outlook or any other e-mail clients.
- Skype: Free chat programme that allows you to speak with anyone in the world for free (provided the other user also has Skype), using your internet connection as a telephone line (VoIP). For a small fee you can use it to call land lines and / or text mobiles anywhere in the world. Your computer requires a microphone to use the chat feature of this program. You can also use it to share your screen with other users, which is perfect for delivering presentations over the internet.
Skype can also be integrated with Facebook chat and has replaced Microsoft's "Messenger" service.
Photo & Picture Editing Software:
- Paint.net: A fairly powerful yet easy to use image/graphics editing programme that is similar to Adobe Photoshop, but free. This programme only works on Windows based operating systems.
- GIMP: The GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on most operating systems and is much more powerful than Paint.net, but is a lot more technical.
- ImageJ: Free image processing programme which allows you to edit pictures. Fairly powerful and free.
- Google Chrome: Free internet browser, for use as an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer / Edge. It is the browser of choice for most Trust employees. The Trust's website is best viewed using this browser. Chrome is very clean, quick and available on most opeating systems.
- Mozilla Firefox: Free internet browser, for use as an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer / Edge. Firefox is a very popular and robust browser.
- Opera: Free internet browser, for use as an alternative to Microsoft Internet Explorer / Edge. Very clean, quick and easy to use. Note: If you are running Windows 8 / 8.1, 7, Vista, XP or older, you will have a browser called "Internet Explorer". If you are running Windows 10, you will have an additional browser called "Edge".
It is very important that you keep these browsers as up-to-date as possible to avoid your computer becoming more susceptable to viruses / malicious code, etc.
Although still available for download, Microsoft have now discontinued Internet Explorer, instead replacing it with their new browser; "Edge" on Windows 10. The latest version of Internet Explorer is 11, but this version is only available on Windows 7, 8 / 8.1, and 10. Therefore the Trust recommends using the alternative browsers listed above if you are running an older version of Windows (note that you should not be running Windows XP as it is a discontinued product and is therefore no longer secure).
- Linux: A group of community built, free operating systems for use as an alternative to Microsoft or Apple products. There are many different Linux based operating systems such as Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora. They all share the same fundamental Linux based "building blocks", whilst maintaining a different look and "feel" from one other.
Being community driven, Linux based operating systems can be difficult to pick up and use, but offer a greater degree of customisation and scope than their Windows and Apple counterparts.
Audio & Video Software:
- DVDVideoSoft: This website has many free audio and video based tools available, such as DVD rippers, file conversion tools, YouTube video downloader tools and many more. If you may find that the YouTube videos on this website are slow (and constantly keep stopping to buffer), you may find the "Free YouTube Download" programme useful. After installing it, simply copy and paste the video URL (from YouTube) into the programme and download it. The software is regularly kept up to date, so if you have problems using any of the programmes, try updating the software to the latest versions.
- VLC Media Player: An excellent, free media player which plays almost any video file type with ease, along with DVD's, CD's, and more. It plays most codecs without requiring codec packs. You will most likely need this programme in order to watch videos you have downloaded from YouTube using the "Free YouTube Download" software. It is available on most platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix.
- Winamp: Available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Winamp is a free media player for use as an alternative to default media players bundles with your operating system. It can play a wide variety of audio and video formats and is easily customisable.
- Genstat & Genstat Discovery: GenStat is a product of VSN International and is a comprehensive statistics system, developed specifically for use in biosciences, which offers ease-of-use for the novice user through a Windows menu interface, or power and flexibility for the more experienced user through a powerful command language interface. The Discovery Edition is a free version of GenStat developed for use by not-for-profit research organisations, charities and educational institutes based in the developing world.
- Minitab: An excellent, clean and quick statistical package that is easy to use. Mintab has a complete set of statistical tools such as Descriptive Statistics, Hypothesis Tests, Confidence Intervals and Normality Tests. It can also be used to perform regression, ANOVA and much more. The software is not free, but it's significantly cheaper if you rent, rather than buy it outright (click here for more information).
- Statistics for Biologists: A collection on Statiscs for Biologists, which highlights important statistical issues that biologists should be aware of and provides practical advice to help them improve the rigor of their work.