10 August 2016
This page contains a list of (in my opinion) incredible software that can be freely downloaded, as well as a bunch of sites that host all kinds of shareware and freeware. Amazing as it might seem, many shareware/freeware applications are as good as, if not better than, the equivalent commercial products!
The software products below are particularly impressive, and I use them all the time:
||Formerly called Windows Commander, this is quite simply the best file and disk management utility around. Everything you could possibly need is built in (including support for FTP, zipping/unzipping, file/directory comparison and much more). Microsoft take note - this is what Windows Explorer should have been like! Total Commander is shareware, meaning it is not free to use - you can try it and if you like it you should send the registration fee to the author.|
||An outstanding, free graphics utility for editing, manipulating and resizing photographs. It shows you the file size (in kilobytes) of your edited image before it is saved on disk, thus allowing you to edit it further if the size is too big or small. PhotoScape is the best tool I've found for saving high quality images in as small a file size as possible (which is what you need when publishing photographs on the internet). Full support for creating images from your screen (the full screen, a window or part of a window) is also provided. It has a rather unusual interface but is well worth getting used to.|
||A comprehensive, sophisticated and very secure anti-virus application. It is unobtrusive, very easy to use and is not resource-hungry or processor-intensive. Best of all it is totally free, merely requiring a simple registration once a year to remain active. It is also a lot more reliable than some commercial products whose names I shan't mention here.|
||Mozilla FireFox is the best web browser around. Google Chrome is also pretty good, but it has some irritating idiosyncracies that I can't stand. And the less said about Microsoft Internet Explorer the better.|
|RJ TextEd Editor
||A great tool to manage the downloading of large files, or many files, from the internet. "FDM" handles multiple simultaneous downloads, intermittent lost connections, video from sites like YouTube, downloading of the entire contents of a web site, scheduling of downloads, pausing, resuming and a number of additional features that allow you to concentrate on other things while it does the work.|
||These days every restaurant, coffee shop or hotel you go to has free wifi. That's great, but these unsecured networks are horrendously prone to hacking and even if the web site you're connecting to IS secure (ie. it uses "https"), you are not - anybody with some technical expertise can snoop on the data you send from your machine. So it is imperative to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your PC to encrypt everything you transmit. There are many VPNs on the market, but unfortunately none of the good ones are free. However TunnelBear, apart from being an excellent product, offers an amazing 500 MegaBytes of VPN data per month for free, so it is my VPN of choice.|
||A good, free graphics utility that can be used to edit and manipulate files in virtually any kind of image format. Uses a very intuitive technique for cutting bits of a picture out and filling in the blank space with colours from other parts of the image. You can also convert from one format to another (for example, open a BMP and save it as a JPG). Creating a slide show is quick and easy.|
||A free astronomical or planetarium application. It shows a realistic 3-dimensional sky on your screen, exactly as you would see it with your naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.|
||A free utility that allows you to create PDF files from any printable document. It is installed as a virtual printer so that when you print something you can choose the CutePDF "printer" as the target - rather than actually printing it creates a PDF which you can then save on your hard drive.|
||An excellent, free utility for comparing and merging the contents of files and directories.|
|VLC Media Player
||A free, open-source application that can play videos or music in virtually every possible format.|
||Ever had the experience where you KNOW you saved a file, somewhere on your disk, but you have no idea where? And just the thought of using the built-in "search" function of Windows Explorer gives you a headache? Well, worry no longer - Everything Search will locate files anywhere on your entire computer, quickly and simply. No matter where a file was saved (deliberately or accidentally), Everything Search will find it.|
||An application for recording of sports results and data. It is unique in that it supports cricket (all formats), rugby union, soccer, tennis and formula 1 straight out of the box. A full database of results for the South African national team is included, as well as all tennis grand slams and formula 1 Grands Prix.|
The best place to get unbiased reviews of all kinds of freeware is Gizmo's Freeware. They have many "best of" lists that make the job of finding the ideal tool for a specific job very simple. Find them at www.techSupportAlert.com.
If you're unhappy with software that you're using, have a look at AlternativeTo. This excellent site lists several alternatives for almost every piece of software out there. Find them at alternativeTo.net.
My favourite software download sites are these:
I suggest most strongly that you AVOID using:
... and if you still can't find what you're looking for then try one of these sites: