Five Great (Free!) Alternatives to Expensive Office Software Packages

Laura LepardTips

If there is one thing that virtually everyone in the business world has come to understand, it’s this:  We all rely on software to do our jobs. It’s no real secret why this has come to be; software makes our jobs easier by making our labor more efficient and productive. Let’s face it, the ability to point-and-click, copy-and-paste, and the myriad of other miraculous shortcuts afforded us by the most commonly used software products has saved us all countless hours.

However, the biggest challenge most of us encounter when choosing which software to use isn’t learning how to use it, it’s the fact that it often costs a small fortune to purchase. Even today’s “low cost” cloud-based programs that charge only a modest monthly fee can, over time, add up to costs akin to that of a small third-world nation’s annual budget.

While the Fortune 500 and multinational corporations rarely have to worry about fitting this expense into their budgets, we lesser mortals can sometimes be faced with a decision whether to purchase the latest version of some high-powered software or risk not making payroll this week. For those in that latter category, or for those who simply choose to be more frugal, there’s some very good news.

Just like the generic equivalents of high-priced pharmaceutical products, many of the most commonly used software products have low-cost – or even free! – alternatives. Name brand products that cost hundreds of dollars per user can often be replaced by those costing nothing at all.

Here is a list of some of the very best in this category:

Notepad++Notepad++ is a “basic” text editing tool with some truly impressive features. While few are likely to consider the type of software it replaces to be too expensive, the power that is packed into this simple, free program makes it a hefty tool in your box.
ClonezillaClonezilla is a very good backup creation and management application, offering an impressive array of functions that will surely cover your everyday needs – and more. No more need to choose between buying an expensive backup solution or risking losing your data!
GimpGimp replaces Photoshop or Illustrator well enough to be the one of the best known and widely used pieces of software in existence. Its easy-to-use interface and powerful filters make it hard to justify spending so much money on monthly fees for Adobe’s Creative Cloud software.
OpenOfficeOpenOffice is the perfect alternative to spending a small fortune on the MS Office package. It comes with tools to create and edit spreadsheets, databases, text documents, presentations, and more. Better yet, you can open, edit, and save files using any of the MS Office file types. They are completely interchangeable. Even exporting to PDF is a simple one-click operation.
LinuxLinux is an absolutely free operating system for your computer. All updates are free as well! No need to drop several hundred dollars on the latest version of Windows or MacOS. (Yes, Windows 10 is currently being offered for free, but do you really expect that to continue?) While older versions of Linux were rather complicated and clunky, it’s now extremely easy to use. Distributions like Mint or Ubuntu come pre-configured so you can use them just like any Windows/Mac computer.