Ever wondered what software you should install on a fresh Microsoft Windows installation within a small business environment? The other day I had to setup a computer with Microsoft Windows Vista. This blog post details the software that I installed on the fresh install and why. All the software mentioned is free for freelance and small business use.
Warning: Please note this blog post is not providing recommendations of software to install and just covers what I’ve used. You install and use any software at your own risk.
15th January 2021 update! This blog post was published on this site back in 2013 and I’ve written updates in blue under section.
Firewall and virus protection
After I had fully updated Microsoft Windows Vista with the latest patches, I installed the Comodo Firewall and Microsoft Security Essentials software.
I’m now using Windows 10 and I no longer use Comodo Firewall or Microsoft Security Essentials. I quite like software from AVAST, but that isn’t a recommendation, just my personal preference.
Email client and web browser
I’m a big fan of Mozilla and installed the Mozilla Thunderbird email client and the Firefox web browser. Thunderbird is setup to work with two profiles, both of which handle multiple email accounts and I enjoy the ‘offline’ aspect, such as writing draft emails whilst not connected to a network.
Reluctantly Adobe Flash was installed. Next it was time to install some Firefox ‘add-ons’ to help with web browsing and bookmark management. So Flashblock, Disconnect, Adblock Plus and Xmarks add-ons were installed.
These days I’m still using Thunderbird, but rarely Firefox and I primarily use the Chrome web browser, but I’ve just installed the Brave web browser, which I’m hoping is better web browser for an old computer. I don’t use Adobe Flash and I uninstalled it a long time ago.
Advanced text editing and PDF reading
Long gone are the days of using the standard text editor and Notepad++ was installed, which provides a great range of features, including tabbed text file editing, syntax highlighting and search and replace.
Sumartra PDF was installed and it is a lightweight PDF reader that enables me to quickly read PDFs.
I quite liked Sumatra PDF, but it’s a software package I’ve not used in a long time. Now I just open a PDF file in the Chrome web browser.
The office suite and image editing applications
I jumped ship from OpenOffice to LibreOffice which perfectly meets my word processing and spreadsheet needs. LibreOffice’s writer package works well with MS Office docs and both the word processor and spreadsheet applications can export as PDF.
Paint.Net supplements my PSP9 needs and is great for quick image editing requirements, such as cropping, resizing and converting to other file formats.
I’m still using LibreOffice for word processing and spreadsheet work. I’m no longer using a free image editor and I paid for Paint Shop Pro 2020 Ultimate.
File backup, compression, FTP and sharing
Cobian Backup is used to automate backups to a NAS box and Dropbox is used for sharing documents across devices and with other people.
For file compression I use 7-Zip these days, which integrates well into MS Windows, but also provides advanced features such as file encryption. For password management I use KeePass, which handles hundreds of passwords.
I occasionally need to log into a FTP server and for a long time the FileZilla FTP Client has been my FTP client of choice.
I’m not currently using TrueCrypt, but probably will be heading back to this encryption application to perform whole disk encryption.
I stopped using TrueCrypt a long time ago. I find myself regularly using Notepad++ for text file editing and I think it’s an excellent text editor.
Time to wrap up this blog post
I’m sure I’ve failed to mention some software, but the above collection of software should provide a healthy dollop of functionality and features that a freelancer or small business requires.
It’s interesting how many of the free software packages I still use today, but I also use paid software weekly for my work, such as Paint Shop Pro 2020 Ultimate and Vegas Pro 15.
Obviously the software that you use depends on your requirements and budget, so some or all of the above mentioned software might not be relevant to your freelance/business needs.