A lot of new hardware was released in 2020, making it the perfect time to upgrade your device. Whether it’s new graphics cards to run triple-A games or installing an SSD hard drive to eliminate loading times, there are plenty of ways to boost the power of your PC.
However, the cherry on top is always the operating system. While many people believe Windows is the only option available, there are several other alternatives out there that provide features that aren’t included in Microsoft’s premier product.
But how do you know what the best operating system is for your computer or laptop? There are plenty of considerations you need to make when deciding on the best OS. You could install them one at a time and test them out yourself, or you could take a look through this operating systems list and choose the right one for your PC needs.
What is an Operating System?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term operating system, in short, it’s a user interface that allows you to easily access applications and programs as well as manage your hardware devices.
For example, if you use your laptop or computer for personal use, then an operating system will provide you access to web browsers, mail programs, and allow you to play games without needing to type in a series of commands to view the files on your hard drive.
If you’re using devices for your business, it can display connections to other colleagues and help you communicate on the same platform. You’re able to collaborate on projects, schedule meetings, and complete tasks relevant to your job.
Without an operating system installed on your laptop or PC, you would need to type in a series of text commands to run programs. In some of these cases, the application may not be able to run or function without using an operating system.
What are the Best Operating Systems Available?
The beauty of building a laptop or PC is that you have complete control over the hardware and software that you install. One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is the operating system you run to access your applications and manage your device’s performance. There’s a lot to consider, but there’s also plenty to choose from. If you pick one of these best OS platforms, then you can feel assured you’ve made a good decision.
1. Microsoft Windows
The safest bet for an operating system that’s going to run out of the box is Microsoft Windows. Its interface is simple, easy to navigate, and intuitive. It comes with plenty of additional features as well. You’ll get a stellar antivirus program and firewall security to protect your device from hackers, malware, and any other malicious material. There’s even a feature that can turn off notifications and distractions if you need a moment to focus on the task at hand.
Unfortunately though, there are a lot of other programs and applications that come with Microsoft’s platform. Some you’ll get to try before you buy, and others may not be relevant to your situation. But you can’t uninstall them. There are also some user data that gets collected by the company to improve the platform that you might not want to be a part of.
Overall, Microsoft Windows is still one of the best operating systems around. If you’re looking for an OS that’s easy and reliable, it’s hard to look past this one.
2. Mac OS
If you have an Apple product, then it’s likely that you’ve experienced Mac OS. The design is so intuitive and straightforward that it’s identical to every product in its ecosystem. For example, if you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPad and then jumped on to a MacBook Pro, you’ll be instantly familiar with the operating system.
It’s also one of the most secure OS platforms around, courtesy of the regular updates deployed. But the only downsides are that it’s an expensive operating system to purchase and will only work on Apple laptops and desktops. So if you’re building a PC, you’ll want to choose something else.
But if you’ve got a MacBook or iMac, then you can’t go wrong with having this operating system installed.
3. Chrome OS
Much like its web browser, the Chrome OS takes up very little space on your hard drive and is one of the fastest operating systems around. However, it’s very dependent on the internet, so you’re going to need to be always online in order for your device to work.
It comes installed with antivirus software and regularly backs up data to the cloud just in case anything was ever to go wrong. Chrome OS is great for streaming media and listening to music, but other than that, it’s pretty limited.
More features are expected to be coming, but for you now, this operating system is perfect if you need to get online, send some emails, and enjoy binging your favorite shows and movies.
4. Linux Mint
The best thing about this operating system is that it’s free. But it has a lot of other useful features going for it too. It’s simple to use, extremely fast, and can handle any type of media you want to play without downloading and installing a bunch of codecs.
Not everything is perfect though. Software updates are few and far between, which means if you have a program that doesn’t quite work the way you need it to, you might be waiting a while for a fix. There’s also no easy way to manage your hardware and peripherals.
If you don’t plan on using your laptop or computer for work, strenuous tasks, or gaming, then you can’t go wrong with this free and reliable operating system.
A favorite amongst developers and anyone fluent in foreign languages, Ubuntu is another free operating system that’s almost just as quick as Chrome OS. The platform is fully translated into over 50 languages and presents a very organized desktop to users, complete with some basic apps like antivirus and web browsers.
There’s also the Likean Office suite, which you’ll need if you do any word processing or work with spreadsheets. That’s because Microsoft Office isn’t supported on this operating system. Neither is Adobe programs.
While you’ll have other programs as workarounds and will be able to save files in formats for Microsoft and Adobe, you’re not going to have access to several big-name programs. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering Ubuntu as your operating system of choice.
Do you get the impression that most operating systems are too simple? If you want an OS that’s a little more complex, but not for the sake of it, then Fedora might be the one for you. It’s popular with many developers for its intuitive interface, high level of security features, and the monitoring systems available for every single activity on your laptop or computer.
However, if you ever get stuck trying to solve something or come across a problem with the operating system, you may struggle to get the support that you need. As good as Fedora is, there’s not a large community, so you may need to figure it out for yourself.
But it’s easy to upgrade hardware, install third-party apps, and manage every aspect of the operating system, which is why it’s one of the best platforms to consider for your device.
These days everything is heading to the cloud. That’s why you need an operating system that allows you to easily manage it and your device. This is what makes Solaris so popular.
You can update your entire cloud installation with just one click. If you need top of the line security, it comes with advanced software and capabilities to reduce your chances of getting hacked. It’s even suitable for workplaces with its network security features and firewall setup.
Despite some hardware limitations and a small community of users, there’s a lot to like about Solaris that it could be the operating system you need for your situation.
8. Free BSD
If you’re a developer looking for an operating system that’s not only free and quick but also comes complete with compilers and debuggers, then this one is for you. Unless you know what you’re looking for and are familiar with all aspects of software development, you might be lost here.
There’s not a large community to help walk you through the operating system either. This may be difficult anyway as the desktop is not a graphical interface like most other operating systems on this list.
Free BSD is perfect for software developers, but if you’re looking for something a little more user-friendly, then you’re best to choose another operating system on this list.
The first thing you’ll notice when you log into Deepin is the stunning colors and welcoming interface. It’s as though the developers attempted to create a hybrid of the Windows and Mac OS. They’ve almost succeeded in doing so.
Installation is simple, navigating through your software and device managers is easy, and it comes with a ton of pre-installed applications to get you going as quickly as possible.
It’s not quite perfect as it’s missing some essential features that are available in Windows and Mac OS, but Deepin is still one of the best operating systems that you can get your hands on for free.
What if you don’t want to customize your operating system? Fortunately, there is Debian, which comes pre-bundled with all the essential features that you’d expect from an OS.
You’ll get built-in security firewalls, antivirus software, and office software. There are also additional network and protection features that you can only get in this operating system.
If you don’t want to check a bunch of boxes and spend half a day downloading the software that you need, then Debian will have everything you need the moment you log in for the first time. Plus, it’s completely free, which is impressive considering how much value you get from this operating system.
This operating system was made by the online community and for the online community. It’s designed specifically for software developers who need to perform the less flattering tasks of their role, such as debugging and compiling.
But if you go deeper into what CentOS has to offer, there are a lot of additional resources available for developers who need a safe place to build, test, and release their creations. It also manages to work with any hardware and software. The community also claims it includes the most advanced security features in the world.
So if you’re after an operating system designed explicitly for developers that’s not only full of resources but also contains one of the most secure systems on the planet, then look no further than CentOS.
The Solus operating system has something for everyone. If you don’t consider yourself to be computer-literate, then you can get by with all the essential pre-installed applications. But it also caters to those that need some more advanced features for their laptop or computer.
For example, you can customize your updates so that you don’t download anything you don’t need. You can also manage your notifications and media devices to suit your personal needs. There’s also plenty of options available for small items, like the design of the clock in the corner to larger decisions like how much processing power certain applications can use.
Solus doesn’t get updated regularly like other operating systems, so if you do find any bugs, then you may end up stuck with them for a while. However, it’s a perfect choice for anyone looking for an operating system that’s not too complicated but allows you to personalize it to your situation.
How to Protect Your Operating System
Installing a new operating system isn’t overly complicated. All of the best OS platforms’ websites will include detailed instructions that you should follow to ensure that everything turns out ok.
When choosing the right operating system, make sure to consider the applications that you use, if your hardware supports it, and that there is enough support for you in case you need it. You should also assess it against your personal or work needs.
While many operating systems come packed with an antivirus program, getting a VPN to add some additional protection is also worth investigating.