No Need to Pirate: 9 Popular Apps You Can Use for Free or Cheap

Though there’s lots of great free software available, people still continue to pirate apps. Perhaps they don’t know about free alternatives or don’t think the app is worth the cost—either way, it’s not right to steal apps you haven’t paid for.

Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly pirated apps, along with how you can use them for free, at a reduced cost, or through an alternative.

The List of the Most Pirated Apps

Computer Disposals Limited, or CDL, recently published a list of the 20 most-pirated software tools in the UK. The list was created based on the number of Google searches for popular software also containing the terms “torrent” or “download free.”

While there are certainly other popular pirated apps, this list provides a good overview of the most popular ones people try to steal. Let’s look at how to access these apps for less than full-price, without pirating them.

1. Adobe Creative Cloud Apps

Many of the apps in the top 20 are Adobe CC software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Lightroom. Since these apps are all under the same umbrella, we’ll cover them together.

You have a few options for using premium Adobe apps at a discount. If you’re a student, you can get the full Creative Cloud suite for students for $19.99/month, down from the usual cost of $52.99/month.

If you aren’t a student, you should still check Adobe’s Special Offers page. It has some other ways to save, such as the Photography plan, which bundles Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99/month.

Adobe CC Deals

To see if an Adobe product is right for you or to complete a quick project, check out Adobe’s Downloads page for a seven-day free trial of many of its apps.

Don’t need the full Adobe suite? Adobe Photoshop Express and Adobe Spark are free online tools you can use to edit in your web browser.

The company also offers the Adobe Elements line. Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are stripped-down versions of the full apps that are available for a lower one-time cost instead of a subscription.

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Failing this, we’ve also looked at the best free alternatives to Adobe Apps, including many of the ones on the most-pirated list.

2. WinRAR

WinRAR has become a bit of a joke online, as it asks you to pay once the “trial period” expires, but never actually requires payment to keep using it. As a result, it’s kind of odd that so many people want to pirate it.

If you really want to use WinRAR for some reason, you can thus keep using it without paying. Otherwise, we recommend using an alternative file compression tool.

In particular, 7-Zip is an excellent free option that’s lightweight and will fulfill most people’s needs.

3. Adobe Reader

Screenshot of adobe reader with a pdf open

We’re not sure why Adobe Reader made the list of the most-pirated apps, since it’s a free tool. Because of this, it’s worth discussing separately from the Creative Cloud suite.

Adobe Reader (now known as Adobe Acrobat Reader DC) is available free to download from the company. If you don’t care for it, there are plenty of alternative free PDF readers that serve as good replacements for Adobe Reader.

On the other hand, Adobe Acrobat is a paid tool for editing PDFs. You can get it at a discount using the same methods mentioned above for other Adobe tools. Alternatively, check out the best free PDF editing tools if you don’t need all its features.

4. AutoCAD

Autodesk’s AutoCAD software is the standard design tool for engineers, architects, and similar. At $1,690 per year, it’s not exactly affordable.

Unfortunately, given the scope of this tool, you don’t have many options for totally free usage, aside from the free trial. It’s worth checking Autodesk’s deals page for any ongoing offers, as well as the Autodesk educational page for access if you’re a student or educator.

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SketchUp is one alternative that offers a free web version for personal use, which is worth a try if your CAD needs aren’t too intense.

5. Malwarebytes Premium

Malwareybtes Premium Home

It’s pretty ironic that a security app is so high on the list of pirated tools, given that pirated software is much more likely to contain embedded malware. While Malwarebytes is a trusted on-demand scanner, it also offers a Premium service that includes real-time monitoring for malware, ransomware, and other threats.

Every installation of Malwarebytes’ free version includes a 14-day trial of Premium. After that, it costs $3.33/month to protect one device or $6.67/month to protect five devices.

Unless you’re particularly worried about these threats, a combination of a regular antivirus (like Windows Defender), occasional scans with the free version of Malwarebytes, and some common sense will keep your computer safe. There’s no real way to use Malwarebytes Premium for free, so you may want to look at the best free Windows security suites as an alternative.

6. FL Studio

FL Studio is a popular DAW tool that actually has a generous free trial. You can use the free version as long as you want, and it’s fully functional. The only big limitation is that you can’t re-open projects that you’ve saved.

If this isn’t enough for you, check out the best free music production tools for beginners for comparable options that doesn’t cost anything.

7. Kaspersky Security Cloud

Kaspersky Comparison

Kaspersky is a respected antivirus that offers a few different editions. The free version includes the basic antivirus protection, while the Personal and Family editions include extras like a VPN, password manager, and software updaters.

This is common with most third-party antivirus apps these days. The core protection is what you really need; most of the other stuff is unnecessary. You can get services like a VPN and password manager elsewhere for cheaper or free, and functions like “PC optimizers” are mostly useless.

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Instead of pirating the premium version, just use the free offering of Kaspersky. If it’s not enough for you, try one of the other best free antivirus apps for Windows instead.

8. Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365

According to the list, people look to pirate both Microsoft 365, as well as individual Office apps like Word. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get a Microsoft Office license for free, such as using Office Online.

If none of those methods work for you, the best alternative is a different Office suite. LibreOffice is our favorite; it’s a full desktop suite available at no charge.

9. LastPass / 1Password

LastPass Pricing

1Password is a premium password manager, so there’s no way to use it for free after its 14-day trial. However, you can save by going in on the Family plan. This costs $4.99/month and lets up to five people enjoy the service.

LastPass, on the other hand, has a free plan with few limitations. The free plan lets you sync as many login credentials as you want across all your devices. LastPass Premium is $3 per month, and includes a few additional features like one-to-many sharing, 1GB of encrypted storage space, security monitoring, and more multi-factor authentication options.

For most people, then, the free version of LastPass or one of the other best free password managers will work fine.

Enjoy Free and Discounted Apps

While it’s not usually possible to enjoy premium apps for no cost, you can often find some way to use the app at a discount. And failing that, alternative tools can come in handy if you don’t need all the features of the mainstream app. Now you know how to use the most commonly pirated apps for less than full price!

Meanwhile, if you’re a student, there are many more discounts like this available to you.

Image Credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock

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