Uswitch.com broadband expert, Catherine Hiley recommends eight pieces of free software for students today:
Avast Free Antivirus
Avast is a completely free and comprehensive antivirus software, which can detect viruses, spyware, malware, Trojans and other malicious adware. Losing your laptop to a virus could result in lost files and missed deadlines, so it’s vital to protect your computer. This free software can also protect you from spam, phishing and email viruses through its browser and email scanners.
Canva is a free online tool for image editing and design. If you are studying for a creative degree, you might find this graphic design platform particularly useful. You can use the site to design presentations, posters, logos and social media banners. It is also a useful tool for creating CVs and portfolios, which could come in handy if you’re searching for a graduate role.
If you have downloaded an assortment of different software onto your hard drive, you may find that your computer’s storage becomes full quickly. This can result in your laptop running slowly, which is frustrating when working to deadlines and managing multiple streams of work. CCleaner is a system-optimisation tool that clears space on your hard drive. It does this by removing unwanted files, emptying your recycle bin and clearing your internet history.
Prezi is an easy-to-use presentation tool that is becoming increasingly popular with students. Prezi can be used to create engaging slideshows that can impress your peers and lecturers. Even better, Prezi stores all of your work online, which means you can access it from anywhere and return to unfinished projects at a later date. With the free version, you can create up to five projects.
Evernote is a digital note-taking and task management application that allows you to organise your university notes and research in one place. You can collect files, notes, pictures and web pages and access them at any time, from anywhere. Evernote is a great place to keep track of everything that is important to you, which will prove invaluable when balancing multiple projects and assignments.
Zotero is advertised as ‘your personal research assistant’. This software is a free reference management software that aims to help you collect and save sources for assignments. Using Zotero can help to make referencing essays, coursework and group projects much easier. Zotero will not only save all of your references in one place but it will automatically produce in-text citations and a bibliography. It’s incredible how many hours this could save on a research-heavy dissertation.
As a student, you are likely to have multiple passwords for different online accounts and these can often be hard to keep track of. LastPass is a free password manager that allows you to create and safely store strong passwords in one place. Not only is this more sophisticated than writing your passwords on a post-it note, it’s also safer for protecting your accounts.
Google Docs allows you to create and use documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, as well as upload any of your existing files. With regular autosaves and integration with Google Drive (a cloud storage system), you can access your documents from anywhere. So you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your work won’t be lost if anything happens to your computer. Google Docs also allows you to invite others to access and edit your documents in real-time, making collaborations and group projects much easier.