The Best Free Office Software of 2018

Everyone needs reliable office software, and some of the very best suites are completely free – whatever operating system you use. Here, we've put the very best free office software suites through their paces – both downloadable desktop software and browser-based applications – so you can pick the one that's best for you.


If you're used to Microsoft Office, you'll pick up LibreOffice in no time

1. LibreOffice

Everything you could want from an office suite, fully compatible with Microsoft formats and totally free to use – even commercially

LibreOffice is so good, you'll wonder why you ever paid for office software. It's compatible with all Microsoft document formats, and has almost every feature you'll find in the latest versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

The suite contains six programs to cover every common office task: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. The last three are tools you won't find in many other free office suites, and are designed for vector diagrams, mathematical functions and databases, respectively. The latter is particularly useful; free alternatives to Microsoft Access are hard to find.

LibreOffice is an open source project maintained by a huge and enthusiastic community of volunteers constantly working to improve stability and add new features. There's a great selection of extensions and templates to make it even more flexible, and it's free for businesses as well as home users.

LibreOffice is a fork of Apache OpenOffice, and the two are extremely similar, but we’d opt for LibreOffice thanks to its more frequent update schedule and more modern interface.

LibreOffice is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, but there are no official mobile versions available except for a document viewer for Android.


Google Docs Sheets and Slides

Provided you have a stable internet connection, Google offers an excellent free office toolkit

2. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides

For working across platforms and sharing documents, Google's excellent collection of online office apps is hard to beat

If you work collaboratively, or switch between a PC and a Mac, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides should be your first port of call.

For anyone who's already deep into the Android/Google ecosystem, this suite will be a natural choice. The three key tools run happily in any web browser, and are available as mobile apps for Apple and Android devices.

Google's free office suite doesn't offer the advanced tools you'll find in desktop software like LibreOffice (there are no pivot tables, for example, and there's no database tool) but everything is laid out in a clear, logical way and all your files will be saved and synced automatically so you don't have to worry about transfers and backups.

The chief disadvantage of Docs, Sheets and Slides is that opening files created using other office software is a cumbersome process and files aren't always converted perfectly.

This is partly because Google's office tools use web fonts rather than ones stored locally on your device, and partly because Microsoft documents sometimes contain features not supported by Google. If that's a deal breaker for you, read on...Divider

Microsoft Office Online

Like the look of Google's suite, but need native support for Microsoft documents? Office Online is for you

3. Microsoft Office Online

Microsoft is taking the fight to Google with slimmed-down versions of all its usual applications, available to use free online

 Microsoft's desktop software carries a subscription fee, but the company has noticed the threat posed by G Suite and created its own set of free online apps.

Microsoft Office Online looks and works just like its desktop equivalent, and although advanced tools like pivot tables are out of reach, but aren’t offered by Google either.

If you generally use Microsoft document formats, Office Online is a brilliant choice. Unlike Google's free office suite, it doesn't need to convert your files before you can work on them, and you can share them easily through your Microsoft OneDrive account. Just log in using your Microsoft account (the same one you use to log into Windows 10) and you're ready to go.

There's a version of Office Online for Chrome, plus mobile editions of Office for iOS and AndroidDivider

WPS Office Free

Each application in WPS Office Free has a ribbon-based design very similar to Microsoft Office

4. WPS Office Free

A feature-packed free office suite for Windows, Linux and Android

 WPS Office Free is a slimmed down version of a premium office suite, but you'd hardly know it. Each of its three programs looks just as slick as the latest versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and is packed with just as many features.

File format support is excellent, and you can save your work in native Microsoft formats for easy sharing with Office users. There's no database software, but WPS Office comes with an excellent free PDF reader that's a great replacement for Windows' built-in app.

There's the occasional ad, but these are few and far between. They certainly won't get in the way of your work, and you'll easily forget that everything in this suite is completely free.

There are versions of WPS Office Free for Windows and Linux systems, as well as apps for Android devices, but Apple device users will need to look elsewhere.Divider

SoftMaker FreeOffice

If you find Microsoft Office's ribbon interface awkward to navigate, you'll like SoftMaker FreeOffice's more straightforward approach

5. SoftMaker FreeOffice 2016

A free version of a premium suite, with most pro features intact

Like WPS Office Free, SoftMaker FreeOffice provides analogs for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint (TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations respectively).

As with all the free office suites in this roundup, there's support for Microsoft file formats from 1997 onwards. It also offers effortless conversion to both PDF and Epub formats, which is a welcome addition.

Unfortunately, some key features are exclusive to the premium version of the software. Some of these (like tabbed browsing) are nice to have but non-essential, but the lack of a thesaurus is a real drawback for anyone who writes on a regular basis.

FreeOffice doesn't look quite as smart as WPS Office, but if you dislike the Microsoft ribbon and find it unintuitive then you'll prefer the slightly more old fashioned approach to navigation.

Should You Share Sensitive Information With Your Home Devices?

When browsing the web, most people know the basics of protecting themselves – don’t enter your Social Security number into random popups that ask for it, only enter your credit card information on secure sites and keep your passwords unique and unpredictable. But smart home technology is a different story.

The smart home industry is estimated to reach $53 billion by 2024, with millions of people implementing smart lights, personal assistants and other devices into their day-to-day lives. These devices rely on knowing your personal routines to provide countless benefits, from convenience and comfort to cost and energy savings. But how much information do they really need? And how much information should you share with your home devices? Here’s a guide to ensuring your home’s wireless security can’t be outsmarted.

Take Stock of Your Connected Devices

On Nov. 15, 2017, security companies revealed nearly 20 million smart home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home were vulnerable to attack due to an exploit called BlueBorne. The massive 2016 cyberattack that brought down Twitter and Netflix for a day was orchestrated with over 100,000 hijacked smart home devices. The attack was a nuisance, but what if hackers had stolen the payment information stored on those devices?

The first thing to do to protect yourself is to recognize the areas in which you’re vulnerable. All gadgets, utilities, voice assistants and tablets that connect to the internet should be secured. One way to streamline this process is to integrate all devices through a smart home hub, so that you can manage everything in one place. Your internet service provider can help set this up.

Install Updates as Soon as They Become Available

One of the easiest ways for a malicious hacker to gain access to devices is through outdated software. When an update for the operating system or firmware of one of your smart home devices becomes available, install it right away. You should also keep the apps you use to run these devices up to date, along with the operating system of your smartphone.

Make this process easier by enabling automatic updates whenever possible. Just keep in mind that some devices may require you to press a physical button on the device to complete the update. Make it part of your routine to check for updates once each week. While up-to-date software doesn’t guarantee protection, it does eliminate potential vulnerabilities.

Change Your Wi-Fi Network Name

While most hacks (like most break-ins) are crimes of opportunity, you can avoid making yourself a target by changing your Wi-Fi name. Most people use a network name like “Mark’s Home.” A name like this is not only kind of boring, but it also pinpoints exactly which house is providing the Wi-Fi connection.

Change your Wi-Fi name to something obscure or whimsical. Some potential names are “Black Pearl Wi-Fi,” “Ici C’est Paris” and “HeWhoMustNotBeNamed.” These names are fun and easy to give to guests and keep your home’s connection anonymous.

Use a Unified Threat Management (UTM) Appliance

A UTM appliance sounds more complicated than it actually is: this device monitors your home network for intrusions and then implements security measures to keep your data safe. Most UTMs also include antivirus protection for the network at large, even though viruses are not (yet) a problem for smart home devices.

More expensive UTM options provide fully staffed monitoring stations that investigate unusual activity on your network. These devices function much like monitored security cameras; if something out of the ordinary happens, you’ll be contacted so that proper countermeasures can be taken.

Pay for Quality

A simple truth of the technological world is that you often get what you pay for. While buying from brand names may carry a slightly higher price tag, it often brings better quality. If you purchase a third-party alternative (for example, one of the Amazon Echo clones) with limited documentation, you have no way of knowing what types of network security the device has.

When you ping a voice assistant with a query, the information is transmitted back to the central servers to be processed, and then an answer is sent back to you. Make sure the data is going to a company you trust.

Turn On Strong Authentication

Strong authentication – often referred to as multi-factor authentication (MFA) – does more for your security than nearly any other step you take. If possible, enable strong authentication for your financial institutions and any devices that have access to monetary transactions or other personal information. Strong authentication tools include biometrics (a fingerprint or face scanner), security keys or a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

Even if someone gained your username and password, it’s far less likely they would have access to one of these additional authentication measures.

Secure Your Information in the Age of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has just begun. Prices are dropping, and smart home technology is becoming more accessible. Like the growth of personal computers, more and more people will implement technology that streamlines their lives and provides new levels of convenience. Just make sure to take the time to secure these devices. While being able to order a Lyft as you walk out the door is a dream come true, someone hacking into your Google Home device and stealing the payment information stored there is a nightmare.

Thankfully, smart home security is simple to implement. Update your devices, enable MFA, use smart security practices and work with service providers you trust. You’ll stay smarter than these gadgets, and they’ll continue to make your life easier instead of more difficult.

Staying Safe From Cybercrime During Tax Time

Tips for Tax Time

A 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research revealed that nearly one in three consumers notified that their data has been breached become victims of identity fraud. With the recent Equifax cyberattack still fresh in our minds, more than 145 million Americans’ names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information may be at risk.

Cybercriminals are crafty and continuously looking for ways to steal your personal information. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicates that phishing schemes continue to lead its “dirty dozen” list of 2017 tax scams. So what is the average American to do? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) have once again joined forces to help consumers keep safe during tax season with tips for identifying cyber scams, actionable online safety steps and what to do if you fall victim to tax identity theft.

Watch the tax identity theft webinar replay co-hosted with the Federal Trade Commission:



“Cybercriminals love tax season. The enormous amounts of valuable personal and financial information that are shared online during this timeframe make it a haven for hackers. Since most Americans are filing their taxes, deadlines are looming and the cyber thugs are doing everything they can to take full advantage of the opportunity.”


Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

The impact of the Equifax data breach that compromised the personal data of over 145 million individuals has left many confused, frustrated and downright angry. And while massive attacks on large corporations make headlines, small businesses have just as much, if not more, at stake. According to data analyzed in a report by Hiscox, an insurance provider, cyberattacks are likely to have a bigger financial impact on small businesses. The 2017 report found that small businesses with under 99 employees faced an average cost of $36,000 after a cyberattack. Less advanced security protection, a smaller budget dedicated to cybersecurity and fewer resources for a fleshed-out IT department make small businesses an ideal target for hackers.

What is a Cyberattack?

A cyberattack is an unauthorized attempt to expose, destroy or access your data. According to a survey of 700 business owners by BuyBizSell, an online marketplace for small businesses up for sale, 1 in 10 small businesses have been attacked. The three most common attacks cited were general malware, web-based attacks, and phishing scams or social engineering.

General malware. Short for malicious software, malware acts against the intent of the user, and can come in the form of a virus, Trojan horse or worm. Ransomware — a form of malware that demands money to avoid a negative consequence, like permanently deleting your data or publishing it publicly — costs small businesses approximately $75 billion a year, according to a 2016 report by cybersecurity company Datto.

Web-based attacks. A web-based attack is when malware gets access to your computer via the internet. There are multiple ways for this to happen, including malicious websites that present themselves as legitimate, and hackers who insert malicious code into the code of a legitimate website.

Social engineering scams. A social engineering attack is when a hacker tricks you into giving up personal information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or bank information. It is also known as phishing.

How can I protect myself and my customers?


For October, which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Microsoft is offering a series of free cybersecurity workshops for small-business owners, co-sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a self-guided online course in cybersecurity basics.


Your cybersecurity plan should include an employee training program and incident response plan. The first step to securing your network is to make sure your employees understand security policies and procedures. Training shouldn’t be a one-and-done deal; schedule yearly or semi-yearly refresher courses to keep security top of mind. Help your employees understand the importance of updating their software, adopting security best practices and knowing what to do if they identify a possible security breach.

The faster you act in the face of a cyberattack, the better you’ll be able to mitigate the damage.

An incident response plan will have crucial information such as:

  • whom to contact
  • where data and data backups are stored
  • when to contact law enforcement or the public about a breach

The Federal Communications Commission offers a cybersecurity planning guide to help small-business owners create a plan to protect their business. (You can download your customized plan at the bottom of the page after you create it.)


The NIST advises government agencies on password best practices. According to the organization’s Digital Identity Guidelines, released in June 2017, NIST recommends passwords be at least eight characters long and notes that length is more beneficial than complexity. Allow your employees to create long, unique passwords that are easy for them to remember.

If you deal with highly sensitive data, you may want to require multifactor authentication, which requires users to present at least two identifying factors, like a password and a code, before gaining access to systems or programs. Think of it like an ATM, which requires a combination of a bank card and a PIN to access funds.


According to cybersecurity company Symantec, in 2016, 1 in 131 email messages were malicious — this is the highest rate in five years.

Basic email safety precautions, like not opening suspicious attachments or links, are a first step that can be covered in your employee training plan. If you deal with clients’ personal data, you can also encrypt documents so both the sender and the recipient need a passcode to open it.


A firewall acts as a digital shield, preventing malicious software or traffic from reaching your network. There are many kinds of firewalls, but they fall into two broad categories: hardware or software.

Some firewalls also have virus-scanning capabilities. If yours doesn’t, be sure to also install antivirus software that scans your computer to identify and remove any malware that has made it through your firewall. It can help you control a data breach more efficiently by alerting you to an issue, instead of your having to search for the problem after something goes wrong.


Any type of Wi-Fi equipment you receive will not be secure when you first buy it. And no, you shouldn’t keep the default password that comes with your device — there are resources online for hackers to access default passwords based on model numbers of popular routers, so make sure your network is encrypted with your own, unique password. Your router will likely allow you to choose from multiple kinds of passwords; one of the most secure is a Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) code.

You’ll also want to hide your network, meaning the router does not broadcast the network name. If customers or clients will need access to Wi-Fi, you can set up a “guest” account that has a different password and security measures, which prevents them from having access to your main network.


It’s crucial to work with your bank or payment processor to ensure that you’ve installed any and all software updates. The more complex your payment system, the harder it will be to secure, but the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council offers a guide to help you identify the system you use and how to protect it.

The Equifax Hack is Way Worse than Consumers Knew

The Equifax data breach exposed more of consumers’ personal information than the company first disclosed last year, according to documents given to lawmakers.

The credit reporting company announced in September that the personal information of 145.5 million consumers had been compromised in a data breach. It originally said that the information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and – in some cases – driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. It also said some consumers’ credit card numbers were among the information exposed, as well as the personal information from thousands of dispute documents.

However, Atlanta-based Equifax Inc. recently disclosed in a document submitted to the Senate Banking Committee, that a forensic investigation found criminals accessed other information from company records. According to the document, provided to The Associated Press by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, that included tax identification numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. Finer details, such as the expiration dates for credit cards or issuing states for driver’s licenses, were also included in the list.

Equifax’s disclosure, which it has not made directly to consumers, underscores the depth of detail the company keeps on individuals that it may have put at risk. And it adds to the string of missteps the company has made in recovering from the security debacle.

Equifax spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti said that “in no way did we intend to mislead consumers.” The company last year disclosed only the information that affected the greatest number of consumers and wanted to “act with the greatest clarity” in terms of the information provided the committee, she said.

Griffanti also said that while the list provided to the committee includes all the potential data points that may have been accessed by criminals, those elements impacted a minimal portion of consumers. And some data — like passport numbers — were not stolen. The company reiterated that the total number of consumers affected is unchanged.

Equifax waited months to disclose the hack. After it did, anxious consumers experienced jammed phone lines and uninformed company representatives. An Equifax website set up to help people determine their exposure was described as sketchy by security experts and provided inconsistent and unhelpful information to many. The company blamed the online customer help page’s problems on a vendor’s software code after it appeared that it had been hacked as well.