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    Free Business and Home Office Software

    Check out our guide to free business and home office software that will help you manage common computing tasks.

    Free PC Security Software

    From firewalls to anti-virus software, you could spend a fortune keeping their Internet-connected PC safe. Thankfully, there are a number of free antivirus programs that you can use to ward of malicious attacks and key loggers. The downside to using free software is that most vendors do not offer free technical support and some may require you to upgrade to a paid subscription to access all features. For a business, you should also make sure the license agreement does not prohibit for-profit use.

    • Comodo Internet Security 3.13 is a free firewall and anti-virus program. It includes Comodo Secure DNS, Comodo HopSurf and the ability to specify alternative URLs for program and virus updates. You can install the firewall or anti-virus program as standalone products or install both.

    • Avast! antivirus Home Edition is available free of charge for non-commercial home use. Avast! antivirus Home Edition offers anti-virus and anti-spyware, anti-root kit, and safe Web surfing features. For business purposes the Avast! Professional Edition version costs $29.96.

    • SpyBot Search and Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. The program can also clean usage tracks, an interesting function if you share your computer with other users and don’t want them to see what you have been working on.

    Free Office and Accounting Software

    • Outright is a free online bookkeeping solution that lets you track your business income and expenses, maximize Schedule C deductions and reduce your tax liability concerns. It’s perfect for self-employed people.This product is a good option for contractors, freelancers and even eBay sellers. Outright is designed for the US tax system.

    • Google Docs started out as “Writely”, a Web-based word processing service that let users create, store share and edit documents online. Now, Google Docs & Spreadsheets provides an online editor to format documents, spell-check and more. You can upload Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML or text, and then download documents to your desktop as Word, PDF and more. Other features enable you to view your documents’ revision history and roll back to any version.

    Free Web sites

    The words “free” and “Microsoft” aren’t usually found in the same sentence, but Microsoft does have a free version of Microsoft OfficeLive Small Business. Office Live Small Business provides your company with everything needed to create a professional web presence for free, including easy-to-use website design and management tools, and 100 email accounts.

    Free Conference Calling

    As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But doesn’t any meal taste better when someone else pays the bill? In this case, the meal is conference calling, and the company picking up the check is Long Beach, Calif.-based Free Conferencing Corporation of America, which offers, as its name indicates, free audio conferencing through its online service,

    So how does the company make money? The site offers a number of free services the newest is conference recording, more on that later as well as paid services and upgrades.

    The free conference-calling service supports up to 96 people on a call, which can last up to six hours each. there’s no limit to the number of calls you can make, and that you don’t need to make reservations. You sign up for an account online by submitting your name and e-mail address. That immediately generates a dedicated phone number and an access code that’s good for 120 days. When the account expires, you must repeat the process.

    Read the Full Free Conference Calling Story

    Free Image Editors

    GIMP was originally designed for Unix and Linux, however, GIMP for Windows can run on any NT-based version of Windows (NT4, 2000, XP or Vista). This free and open source image editor offers users a Photoshop-esque look and feel.

    You can use GIMP for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. The Painting feature offers a full set of tools such as brush, pencil, airbrush and others. There’s also a gradient editor, blend tool and anti-aliasing. And, GIMP has manipulation tools for rotating, cropping and scaling, as well as a foreground extraction tool and multiple selection tools.

    Another cool feature is the animation tool that lets you load and save animations in a convenient frame-as-layer format. The GIMP Web site offers new users visual tutorials, and a registry of plug-ins, scripts and images that the development community contributed that can be downloaded. Because GIMP is beta volunteer-developed software, support and updates may not be available, however GIMP works and works well. s

    Read the Full Free Image Editors Story

    Based in Nova Scotia, Vangie Beal is has been writing about technology for more than a decade. She is a frequent contributor to EcommerceGuide and managing editor at Webopedia. You can tweet her online @AuroraGG.

    This article was originally published on December 18, 2009