8 essential free downloads for your new Windows PC this Christmas

Spruce up your new computer with this super free software

1. avast! Free Antivirus

Nothing spoils Christmas like a trojan fouling up your computer. And with the sheer amount of viruses lurking in the dingy recesses of the net, waiting for an unprotected PC to stumble their way, getting a beefy antivirus program is a top priority. Luckily, you don't have to fork out a fortune to guarantee peace of mind; you don't have to fork out anything, in fact, because the powerful avast! Free Antivirus is, as the name suggests, completely free.

avast Free Antivirus

avast! Free Antivirus will keep your PC safely protected this winter

And with 25 years of know-how to back it up, you're not getting any old software either – avast! protects 200 million computers and devices worldwide. It scans your hard drive, emails and messenger apps, and there's more than enough in the free version to keep your PC safe and sound from online threats.

2. Firefox

A super fast new computer needs a super fast internet browser, which is where Firefox comes in. It has established itself as one of the quickest browsers available, and since bursting onto the scene a few years ago, Mozilla's Firefox browser has captured a sizeable market share and prized many a user away from Internet Explorer.

Firefox

Blaszingly fast and highly customisable, Firefox is a superb internet browser

It's got an absolutely huge range of extensions to do anything from changing the look and feel of Firefox to managing your bookmarks, debugging code and more. You can sync your bookmarks and settings to any device that uses Firefox, while it has privacy features a-plenty to ensure your information is yours alone.

3. LibreOffice

It's pretty much guaranteed that you're going to need some good office software on your new PC. Whether you're keeping track of your finances, working from home or making greetings cards come holiday season, having good software that can handle this type of work is always a good idea, so make sure you check out LibreOffice.

LibreOffice

Safe yourself some cash and get the brilliant LibreOffice for free

And there's no need to shell out on Microsoft Office, as LibreOffice is a free alternative that is more than up to the task. It contains a suite of programs to handle every office need, from word processing and spreadsheets to presentations and even drawing. It's open source and regularly updated, and will make a fantastic addition to your new computer.

4. GIMP

If you're looking to removing that pesky red eye from this year's Christmas snaps, you're going to have to sort yourself out with some image editing software. But if you've ever balked at the high asking price of Adobe Photoshop, GIMP could be the answer to your prayers – it's completely free.

GIMP

GIMP is a powerful free image editor that really punches above its weight

It also comes with an impressive range of tools to rival its Adobe equivalent, all developed on a regularly updated open source basis. With a rich feature set that will appease beginners and experts alike – including layer masks, bezier curves, gradients, brushes and more – GIMP mounts a solid challenge to the Adobe behemoth.

5. Recuva

We've all done it – deleted a seemingly unnecessary file, only to realise it was actually vitally important. For those awful moments when you accidentally banish a file seemingly forever, fear not – Recuva has your back.

Recuva

Recuva is an essential program for preventing deletion disasters

When you delete a file in Windows, it's not actually deleted; the link to the file is removed, but the file still exists within your computer's innards. Like an intrepid cave explorer, Recuva plumbs the murky depths and finds those orphaned files and brings them back to the surface, whereupon you can choose which to restore. So don't panic if you need to bring back a previously deleted file, give Recuva a try.

6. TeamViewer

If you need to collaborate with others or access your new computer remotely, you'll find TeamViewer is an absolute godsend. It lets you log in to your PC remotely and access your files through the power of magic (well, not quite), or you can share desktops with other computers. That makes it ideal for collaborating on work or showing someone how to complete a certain task, even if you're not there with them.

TeamViewer

Whether you use it for work or leisure, TeamViewer is ideal for your new PC

But it's not just ideal if you use your new PC for work. If you find yourself out and about without that vital file you left on your home computer, TeamViewer can save the day and let you remotely log in to your computer and get that file when you need it. It's a lifesaver in all sorts of situations, making it a perfect program for any new computer.

7. Dropbox

Cloud storage had a big year in 2014, with all the major providers engaging in a heated price war that saw prices slashed and storage space soar. Dropbox emerged as one of the main winners of that little scrap, with its free option providing a meaty 2GB of space for all your files. You can even get 16GB extra by referring your friends.

Dropbox

Dropbox massively upped its storage in 2014, making it an enticing prospect

Yes, that means EVEN MORE Christmas gifts (hooray!). What better reason to put that New Year's resolution into action – you know, the one where you vow to keep all your important data safely backed up in the cloud. It's certainly easier than going to the gym, and a whole lot cheaper too.

8. Spotify

If you want to explore new music and find your new favourite band, there's no better way to do it than with Spotify. It's designed to encourage the sharing and discovery of new music, with user playlists prominently displayed for you to browse through.

Spotify

Discover new music or share your own tastes using Spotify

There's Spotify Radio too, which picks tracks it reckons you'll like, while the app's close integration with social sites like Facebook mean it's super easy to tap into your friends' tastes and broaden your music horizons. New PC, new music and a new year just around the corner – what's not to like?