Below is a collection of FREE software applications we believe any small business owner might find useful. Whether you are operating on a tight budget and can’t justify a pricey software license, or just need to fully enable a temp worker, these applications could be the perfect answer to your needs.
This list is comprised of install-able software products for the Microsoft Windows operating system, although many of them also include versions available for Apple Mac, Linux and Mobile Devices. Versions for other operating system platforms me be acquired directly from the software maker’s website.
PLEASE NOTE: Somerville Technology Solutions does not and can not guarantee the suitability or performance of any software listed here. Install these applications at your own risk. We provide them here as a courtesy to those seeking free alternatives to commercial software applications and have found them to be very useful in our own evaluations or usage scenarios.
WPS Office 2016: A free full featured but lightweight office suite featuring Write, Spreadsheet and Presentation applications. WPS Office features Microsoft Office file compatibility, so you can view edit and save Microsoft Office ready documents. However, expect that some higher end MS Office features may not be compatible. This suite is also available for Android, iOS and Linux devices, making document creation and viewing a seamless experience across all your devices.
LibreOffice: Another free alternative to Microsoft Office, Libre Office features a closer set of applications to the higher end MS Office set. In addition to the usual write, presentation and spreadsheet applications, Libre Office also includes Draw, Base, Math and Charts: a graphics/drawing tool, database designer, equation editor and charting tool, respectively. Like WPS Office, Libre Office supports viewing and editing of Microsoft Office file formats, making sharing documents with other users almost seamless.
LibreOffice Portable: Install LibreOffice to a portable hard drive or Thumb Drive with this installer and use it on the go. Perfect for sales professionals or commuters that use different computers in different locations.
Scribus: If you have a desktop publishing need, and have found the likes of Adobe InDesign to be cost prohibitive, and Microsoft Publisher to be too simplistic, then Scribus might offer you a credible alternative. We evaluated the 1.5 Beta version due to it’s file compatibility with MS Publisher and Adobe InDesign, and found it to be a powerful alternative. Scribus warns against using the 1.5 Beta release for production purposes, therefore we offer the 1.46 stable release here. The adventurous may acquire the 1.5 release from the Scribus website.
Cobian Backup: A relatively simple but effective backup solution that can be deployed on desktop or server computers. This reliable and easy to manage application will install itself as a service and will thus restart automatically after a computer restart, ensuring that automated backups take place with minimal supervision. We view this as a small business must have, as data backup is one of the most overlooked aspects of business continuity planning. When combined with BitTorrent Sync, Cobian Backup can provide a very comprehensive strategy for ensuring critical files are easily recoverable in the event of a disaster. Ask us how.
BitTorrent Sync: Think of BitTorrent Sync as your personal and private DropBox enabler. This oddly named but powerful newcomer to the file transfer game, allows a user to synchronize files across multiple computers and devices. With versions available for just about every desktop and mobile operating system, you can ensure that critical files will be available on any device you choose by simply copying them into a designated folder on one device, which then automatically begins a synchronization process to all other subscribed devices.
LibreCAD: LibreCAD is a fully comprehensive 2D CAD (computer-aided design) application that you can download and install for free. It has support for over 20 languages and a vibrant community of developers and users around the world. We offer both the desktop and Portable installer for your convenience. (Portable installer allows installation on a thumb or portable drive.)
TurboCASH: A community developed OpenSource product that is reported to have millions of users around the world, and to be a credible alternative to QuickBooks Pro. The interface design and appearance of this financial accounting solution for small businesses is somewhat dated, as is the rather amateurish looking website for the project, but the application claims to be full featured and is extendable via 3rd party plugins. We found it to be easy to install without bringing along any unwanted adware or nagware.
fileseek: This lightweight but effective file search tool might be the perfect solution for those needing lighting quick file search capability across all connected drives. Microsoft’s built in search tool frequently fails as an option for network connected shares due to indexing requirements. No such problem with fileseek, as it will quickly search any drive your computer can access without the need to pre-index the content. Complex query support, powerful results filtering, and availability in multiple languages are but some of it’s many virtues.
Microsoft OneNote: We think OneNote is a very overlooked and under appreciated application and is one of the most versatile tools in the MS Office family. OneNote is effectively where you can keep and organize the unstructured information that workers routinely collect, but for which there is no obvious and simple place to save it. OneNote as the name implies offers a digital notebook paradigm, where you can organize information in text notes, image files, drawings, voice notes, MS Office files and just about anything. The notebook model allows easily combining the various media types into notes and binders that are easy to reference and retrieve later. Automatically syncing your notebooks to the cloud via Microsoft OneDrive further extends it’s utility as those notebooks can be retrieved from practically any OneNote capable device.