The Cloudeight Freeware Hall of Fame
We grew up with freeware. When we first jumped on the Web over two decades ago, almost all software was freeware. Things have changed. But we still use and love freeware – not just because it’s free – but because it’s good stuff. And you can’t beat the price.
And yes, we know — there’s a lot of good freeware that is not on this list, but we think it’s a good start.
Here is our Cloudeight Freeware Hall of Fame
All the following programs work on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and should work well on Windows 11 too.
- Irfanview – A super-fast photo viewer and simple photo editor. Always one of the first things we install when we get a new computer. Sometimes, the developer plays games with the installer, but Irfanview always has an option to not install anything other than Irfanview. If this were any other program other than the best and fastest image viewer on the planet, it might not be on this list. Get more information about and /or download Irfanview here.
- MetaPad – It’s an oldie but a goodie. This little text editor leaves NotePad in the dust, But the next version of Windows 10 (version 1809) promises to update Notepad for the first time in over a decade – and it looks like it’s going to be good – but still not as good as MetaPad. You can get more information and download MetaPad here. Hint: You don’t want MetaPad LE – just Metapad.zip.
- AbleWord – Another oldie – and still a goodie. If you need a word processor and don’t want to make Microsoft richer, this might be just what you’re looking for. The developers say “AbleWord (is) very simple to install and use, it is commonly used as a PDF Editor and also for converting PDF to Word® but of course it is also a splendid Word processor and supports most of Microsoft Word® features. ” Learn more about and/or download AbleWord here.
- HiBitUninstaller – It’s an uninstaller on steroids. HiBit is a great uninstaller and a great startup manager, disk cleaner, services manager, browser extension manager, and a whole lot more. It’s a Jack-of-all-trades that has mastered most of them. You can learn more about and/or download Hibit Uninstaller here.
- Geek Uninstaller – Geek does one thing well. It’s the fastest uninstaller around. It might not be the most thorough, but it’s fast. If you don’t need all the features of HiBit and you don’t want to pay for an uninstaller (or get a free one that is bundled with no-no ware), Geek Uninstaller (Free) should be on your PC. Nope, it’s not as robust as paid programs like Revo Uninstaller, but it is more than good enough to be on this list. Learn more about Geek Uninstaller and/or download the free version from here.
- FastStone Capture (the last freeware version) – The last free version of FastStone is old and doesn’t have the features of the paid version, but we’ll stack the old, last free version of FastStone Capture up against any free screen capture tool around today. Read more about and/or download the last free version of FastStone Capture (version 5.3) here.
- 7-Zip – Windows users don’t really need a zip utility unless they need to unzip RAR files and/or need more flexibility working with compressed (zipped files). If we had to choose one zip utility for our computers, it’s going to be 7-Zip. Visit the 7-Zip website for more information and to download it. Note: There are separate versions for 32-bit and 64-bit computers.
- AutoRuns – The all-time BEST Free startup manager – heck – it’s the best darn startup manager free or not free. But, alas, it’s not for beginners. But if you’ve been around Windows a while and you know the ropes, there is no better startup manager anywhere. If you’re not at least a moderately advanced Windows user, heed this warning: Be careful what you disable/delete with AutoRuns. Learn more about and/or get AutoRuns here.
- Privacy Badger – Not exactly an application – it’s an extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera. This extension is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) product – an agency advocating for a free and unrestricted internet. Regardless of your political views, Privacy Badger is an excellent ad blocker, anti-tracker, and privacy extension. If you’re looking for a very good and thoughtfully crafted extension to block ads and increase your privacy, we think you’ll like Privacy Badger. A lot more information about Privacy Badger – and download links for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera can be found here.
- VLC Media Player – Without a doubt, VLC deserves a place on your computer. It’s a master at playing all types of media files. VLC can play almost any time of audio and/or video file natively. It also deserves to be installed on your PC. It’s our default media player… if you try it, it will be yours too. Learn more about and/or download VLC Media Player here.
FastStone Image Viewer – We are dyed-in-the-wool Irfanview fans and have been since way back in 1998. And we’re not going to lie to you and tell you that we’re going to replace IrfanView with FastStone Image Viewer. But we are going to tell you that many of you will love the extra features of FastStone Image Viewer that are missing in Irfanview. FastStone Image Viewer is an image browser that instantly provides you with a “contact sheet” of every image in a folder. It does a whole lot more than that too. Read more about and/or download FastStone Image Viewer here.
Revo Uninstaller (Free version) – Every time we mention HiBit Uninstaller or Geek Uninstaller, we get a bunch of emails from Revo Uninstaller fans. The reason we don’t usually recommend Revo Uninstaller is that the freeware version has but a small number of the features of the full or Pro (paid) version. Often this leads the developer to push you to upgrade to the paid version. That being said, Revo Uninstaller does offer a free version. The page you download it from is confusing – so be wary. But see, we do listen to you, and we’re including Revo Uninstaller in this section. You can read more about and/or download the free version of Revo Uninstaller from this page.
Puran File Recovery – Puran File Recovery is an excellent and free file recovery program. It can recover deleted files from any storage media including hard drives, external drives, flash drives, camera cards, smartphones, etc. Puran File Recovery is easy to use, and it has a lot of options. It’s our number one choice for file recovery, and best of all it’s free. Read more about and/or download Puran File Recovery.
Libre Office & Open Office.
Both of these free Office suites can handle almost any Microsoft Office document. They can also create documents that can be opened in Microsoft Office.
If you don’t have extra money to spend on an office program, either of these will make a nifty addition to your freeware collection. Both are great.
CleanMgr+, BleachBit, and PrivaZer – Here are three free Windows cleanup programs we recommend. As many of you know, we are not fans of CCleaner and have never been. And now that CCleaner is owned by Avast, we can say we’ll never be fans of CCleaner. There are other excellent free clean-up tools available. CleanMgr+ is the simplest and easier to use, but the least thorough. BleachBit and PrivaZer both offer extensive cleanup and privacy optimization features. And you can read about all three (and/or download them) here.
Your suggestions & comments are welcome!
If you have any favorite freeware picks that you think every Windows user should have, please leave a comment.