Thursday, August 13, 2009

Favorite Freeware

Many free programs in a variety of categories are available on the Internet. They range from the very useful to the dangerous. Some references for finding good ones are given here.

The Web is full of sites with lists of freeware so the need for yet another may seem dubious. Because of all the problems with adware and spyware, however, many home PC users that I know are reluctant to download anything at all so I have decided to list some of the sites that I have found to be useful (and safe). This is a purely personal selection with no pretense at completeness. I also mention some software that has made computing easier and more efficient for me. No doubt I have omitted many good sites and programs but life is short.

Please keep in mind that links are subject to change at any time and that freeware sometimes goes commercial after a while.

Lists and General Download Sites
A list of freeware sites. This page is part of a very large assortment of tips and tricks.
Has many programs for downloading. Gives ratings. Excellent site. Some features require paid membership
Large collection for downloading. Gives ratings. Requires (free) login.
A large collection of freeware
A bonanza for those who like to tinker with their system
Last free versions of some good freeware now turned commercial, including JV16 Powertools and its cousin RegCleaner.
Best freeware as voted by newsgroup alt.comp.freeware
Ian "Gizmo" Richards' personal choices for best freeware. Part of a larger site with much good information on computers.
James Eshelman's favorite freeware. Part of a larger site with much good information on Windows.

Some Newsletters

Keeping up with the good freeware that is available can be difficult. In the past, I found certain newsgroups to be helpful but these are now so filled with spam and useless verbiage that I no longer look at them. Your local PC user group newsletter can help. Also publications like PC Magazine and PC World have newsletters. These mostly mention commercial software but do have some information on freeware.You do not have to be a subscriber to be able to receive their email newsletters. Go to their Web sites for information. Some download sites also have email newsletters but they often entail a paid membership. There are, however, several free newsletters that I like and these are listed below.
The LangaList from Fred Langa is very useful general email newsletter on computing that often has recommendations from readers on good freeware that they have found and used.
"Gizmo" Richards' newsletter with picks of the best tech utilities and tech support resources
Newsletter from a good download site listing some of their latest finds and additions
Newsletter from Karen Kenworthy describing the latest free program that she has written

Download Sites for Specific Programs

The biggest freeware download sites may have the program that you are looking for but navigating them can be tedious. Google or other search engines are often a better place to find links for specific programs than the search facilities at download sites. Here I list specific download links for some of my favorite freeware. I apologize if one of them stops working but links come and links go.
The graphics program IrfanView is one of my all-time favorites. It has an astonishing number of features for a free program and is updated frequently. I give more detail here
WinPatrol is another free program with many features. It can help you control what is installed, what runs in the background, and what runs at startup. More discussion is here.
There are many text editors that are better than Windows Notepad but I have been using Notepad+ for years as my replacement for the Windows utility.
Of all the Registry cleaners that I have tried, EasyCleaner is one of the best.
RegSeeker is another good Registry tool. A beta product but seems to work OK.
To find out all the details of what is on your system, use Belarc Advisor
There are many freeware FTP clients but I like the free version of FTP Commander
A collection of many small useful utilities written by Karen Kenworthy. Excellent site. I use Replicator all the time to back up files. I also use her Cookie Viewer a lot.
Another collection of useful small utilities. Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell write everything here. Their programs concentrate on system maintenance and monitoring. Process Viewer is one of a number of their handy utilities. Added later: Sysinternals has been bought by Microsoft but so far the freeware remains available.
A collection of free useful networking and Internet utilities. Also has a number of handy system utilities.

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