Licensed and commercially produced software is expensive, so if your business is just starting out and you’re looking to cut costs.

Contrary to popular belief, free software is not prone to bugs nor is it of low quality; in fact, it can be even better than commercial counterparts because there are more volunteer programmers and experts working to improve the product.

There are thousands of available free software programs on the Internet. However, one must be careful of free downloads as most bring along unwelcome companions such as pop-up adds and intrusive spyware that tracks you online activity. It is always best to read user reviews found through an internet search before downloading and installing.

Here are five programs you can avail of at no extra cost:

OPEN OFFICE (www.openoffice.org)
For basic office documentation, a good alternative and can be used exactly like his counterpart including:

• Write documents
• Create spreadsheets
• Make presentations
• Draw graphics
• Design a database

As an additional bonus, with Open Office your can open and save file in MS Office format which is compatible with both PCs and Macintoshes.

PICASA (www.picasa.com)
Digital cameras allow us to capture thousands of photos without the cost of film. It offers an easier way to help you find, organize, and share photos. It’s a free product of the search engine Google and is fun to use.

Picasa also:
• Locates and organizes all photos in your computer
• Provides basic photo editing in a few simple steps, perfect for those who need to send images to clients
• Allows you to turn pictures into movies
• Allows you to create screensavers, posters and picture collages

GIMP (www.gimp.org)
For graphic designers, a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop is GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP includes:

• A simple painting program
• An expert quality photo retouching tool
• An online batch processing system to automate repetitive tasks
• Convert picture files from one format to another

CUTE PDF (www.cutepdf.com)
PDF or Portable Document Formatting is a popular way of converting or saving documents so they can be viewed and printed across multiple computer platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux. Converting your documents into PDF format allows other users without your software programs to view and print your document.

Converting documents into PDF format also provides additional security. You can prevent viewers from altering the document or limit viewing to screen only to prevent printing or your document.

Cute PDF is a free PDF creator that creates professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document. It can add watermarks to documents, edit forms, add comments, add headers and footers, rearrange pages, and add digital signature.

ALLWAYS SYNC (www.allwaysync.com)
Lost data is one of the biggest headaches for any business. Data can be lost through hardware failure, data corruption, virus attack, accidental deletion, and theft. The best protection against losing data is regular backup.

Free software is a great way to get your business up and running with minimal overhead; but once you stabilize operations, it would be best to invest in licensed software, since these come with technical support and advanced features that can help you grow your business.


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