Freeware is computer software that is available for use at no charge. Common examples include Internet browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, the voice-over-IP service Skype, and the PDF file reader Adobe Acrobat. Freeware anti-virus software is also available, and examples include AVG Anti-Virus Free, Microsoft Security Essentials and Aviria Free AntiVirus. However, while these programs are largely fully functional, some lack desirable features found in premium versions.
Freeware alternatives exist in nearly all software categories. While Microsoft Office suite requires payment, LibreOffice and OpenOffice offer similar functionality at no charge. GIMP and Pixlr are freeware image editing programs that can do nearly everything that Adobe Photoshop does.
Many basic system maintenance utilities are freeware. Ccleaner and WinUtilities help users free up hard drive space by removing unneeded files and clean and optimize the registry. Onyx offers similar system maintenance services for Macs. Auslogics Disk Defrag defragments the hard drive for improved performance. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall provides a firewall with more security features than the one included with Windows.
Although freeware programs come with no monetary cost, most are copyrighted and have some limitations on their distribution. While some freeware programs are open-source, meaning their source code can be viewed and edited by users, others remain closed-source.