The most popular programmes come at a high price and usually need to be upgraded regularly. Why not look at applications offered for free?
Adobe offers more than just Adobe Reader for free. Adobe Buzzword is a word processor that you can download and use to collaborate on text documents, and review and comment on them online. You can organise your text into paragraphs, use bulleted or numbered lists, change fonts, insert images and tables, and check spelling. You can import Microsoft Word, plain text, Rich Text Format and Open Document Format files, as well as cut content from a Word document or other text such as email, and paste it into a Buzzword document. However, font substitution and other formatting changes sometimes occur on import.
Get it from: www.adobe.com
More than just ‘cute’
The best and safest format to send documents you don’t want recipients to edit is PDF. CutePDF Writer is the free version of commercial PDF converter software. Once you download it, it installs itself as a ‘printer sub-system’ so that you can convert any printable document into a PDF as easily as you would print it.
Get it from: www.cutepdf.com
Google’s collaborative word processor and spreadsheet applications are collectively known as Google Docs. It offers web-based documents, spreadsheets, drawing and presentations that let users edit the same file at the same time so you always have the latest version. With Google Docs you can be productive from your desk, on the road, at home and on your mobile phone, even when you’re offline. It also supports popular formats such as .doc, .xls, .ppt and .pdf.
Get it from: Google Apps for Business (www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business)
Cost: There is a free 30 day trial for up to 10 users per business, after which you will pay $5 per user per month or $50 for a year’s contract.
Open to your office
OpenOffice.org 3 provides a high degree of compatibility with commercial office software, without the high costs or licence worries. It is an open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. All data is stored in an international open standard format and the software can read and write files from other common office software packages.
Get it from: www.openoffice.org
Data storage & protection
Your intellectual property is a valuable asset to the company. You should make sure that it is easily accessible when you need it, yet safely stored and out of the reach of those who intend to do harm.
Starting a new business is stressful enough – make keeping your data and other important files safe one less thing to worry about. ADrive provides a free service offering 50GB of online storage and back-up for all file types. The Basic plan lets you store, back-up, share and edit your documents online. There is also an easy search tool.
Get it from: www.adrive.com
Keep it in the clouds
Microsoft’s free online storage service, SkyDrive, lets you store, organise and download your files, photos and other files on Windows Live servers. You can gain access to your files from any computer with an Internet connection. More than just storage, SkyDrive lets you arrange your files in folders and subfolders, choose permissions for each folder so you can choose to keep them private or share them with your contacts. You can share links directly to your folders, files and photos or embed your photos and files in your blog or webpage.
Get it from: http://explore.live.com/skydrive
Protect your PC from viruses
For more than a decade AVG has been the trusted name in free anti-virus software. The free version protects your computer while you browse the Internet and use social networks. The software is regularly updated to keep up with the latest threats. If you will be downloading and sharing files, you can upgrade for just R249,99. To protect your PC from spam emails and keep hackers at bay while you bank online you can go for the Internet Security software for just R399,99.
Get it from: www.avg.com/ZA
Cost: Free – R399,99
Put up a firewall
With all the important and personal information you will have stored on your computer, the last thing you need is hackers accessing your machine. ZoneAlarm offers a free firewall that blocks hackers and prevents viruses and spyware from stealing your personal data and sending it out to the Internet. The ZoneAlarm Free Firewall also works well with any anti-virus software. The software is easy to install and use, and it won’t slow your computer down while you work.
Get it from: www.zonealarm.com