Best Free Software

65 best free software

Best free software: Let’s face it, there’s nothing cheap about being a PC lover. Putting together a badass rig and keeping it up to date takes cabbage, even when we do our best to make value-driven purchases. Luckily, we can offset our hardware indulgences by saving big on software. So many of our daily computing activities—be it work or entertainment—can be accomplished with a totally free program. And we’re not talking about second-rate, poor-man’s versions of paid-for programs, but perfectly capable, top-notch solutions that stand on their own while costing nothing. There are even some free software that we honestly couldn’t live without. Intrigued? Read on to hear about the best free software.

System Information

Keep close tabs on your PC


CPU-Z and GPU-Z: If you get trapped on Benchmark Island with just one 4GB USB key of utilities, we hope that CPU-Z and GPU-Z are on it! These two utilities are invaluable for seeking info about your components, and they are so up-to-date we swear that Intel, AMD, and Nvidia are supplying inside info before their parts come out. ,

System Temps

HWMonitor: From the same folks who bring you the indispensable CPU-Z comes HWMonitor. This tool gives you an easy-to-use way to monitor most of your system’s temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. It’s not the prettiest utility out there but we’ve found it to be spot-on when we’re testing out an overclock and need to monitor the temps.

Data De-hoarding

WinDirStat: The Real Data Hoarders of Orange County actually use WinDirStat as part of a 7-step program that helps convince data hoarders it’s time to clean up that drive. Upon launch, WinDirStat does a survey of the drive’s contents and displays it in a colored graph, so you know your massive video collection is that big blue swath on your 2TB hard drive. You can even poke through the different colored squares to see what each file is so you can finally slate it for erasure.

Turbo Indicator

Intel Turbo Widget: Let’s not kid ourselves: Intel’s Turbo Boost is built-in overclocking. Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to discern by how much. Even worse, many of the clock-speed widgets and tools we’ve tried aren’t always correct. We’ve compared Intel’s own Turbo Widget (Turbo Boost Technology Monitor) to the company’s internal tools and found it to be one of the more accurate indicators around.

System Inventory

Speccy: Of the many, many system-info tools available on the PC, we find Speccy to be one of the prettier ones. Brought to you by the same folks who make CCleaner, this simple tool organizes available system info into a very presentable and easy-to-read util and isn’t bloated by excess crap that most of us never use.

Disk Info

GKrellM: Ported from Linux, this decidedly old-school utility may not impress you at first, but it’s one of the more effective tools we’ve found that lets you monitor the read and write performance of a disk. We’ve actually compared it to both real-world and synthetic benchmarks for disk I/O and found it to be spot-on, so you know your shiny, new SSD is running at speed.

File Management

Your data where, when, and how you like it

File Archiver

7-Zip: Why should you pay for a program like WinZip when 7-Zip will expertly manage all your compression needs? The open-source software is completely free and doesn't inundate you with ads. Add to that 7-Zip’s support for a wide array of formats (ZIP, ISO, and more) and its compatibility with Windows 8 all the way down to Windows 98, and you’ll see why we tell everyone to "Zip it!"

Torrent Downloader

uTorrent: In the event you want to download torrents (the legal ones, of course), we highly suggest using uTorrent. The program is super light at 800KB, easy to use, and isn't a resource hog. uTorrent actually adjusts Internet bandwidth depending on usage. Playing an online game? uTorrent will intelligently throttle its upload/download speeds so you can both enjoy your gaming and download your files. U should try it.

Cloud Storage

Dropbox: Not only does Dropbox offer free storage, but because it's a cloud-based system, you'll be able to access your saved data from any online device. It also works great if you want to back up important documents (in case your local storage drops out on you). While you only get 2GB free when you sign up, you can get up to 18GB by referring Dropbox to your friends.

File Management

WinMerge: Got multiple versions of what you hope are the same file? Do you want to check a download for errors? Want to merge changes from one version of a document to another? Or do you want to check two entire folders to make sure their contents are exactly the same? WinMerge does it all. It’s incredibly useful for bit-level change detection, or just making sure local and remote folders (and their contents) are synced correctly.

Copy & Move

TeraCopy: TeraCopy is a robust replacement for Windows’ file transfer system. It’s not just faster than Windows’ file copy system, it’s better—it shows exactly which files have transferred and which are queued, as well as transfer speed. It lets you pause and resume transfers and can even do a before-and-after file hash comparison to make sure everything copied correctly.

FTP Solution

FileZilla: Transferring large files? Let open-source file-transfer-protocol (FTP) program FileZilla help you. FileZilla can act as both an FTP client and server. You can transfer up to 4GB files, and because you can drag-and-drop folders, it's really easy to use. FileZilla also runs on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

Click the next page for Maintenance programs, benchmarking software, and more of our best free software.


Jimmy Thang has been Maximum PC's Online Managing Editor since 2012, and has been covering PC hardware and games for nearly a decade. His particular interests currently include VR and SFF computers.
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