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8 of Our Favorite Freeware & Shareware Websites (You'll Like Them, Too)By Vicki McClure Davidson
It's almost intoxicating to discover that there are so many sites with so many links to free or inexpensive software applications and personal computer tools. The vast array of freeware will make you giddy. The list below is merely the tip of the "freeware iceberg."
DirFile.com: Download freeware for business productivity tools, desktop tools, developer tools, drivers, education tools, computer games, home & personal, Internet and networking tools, multimedia and design tools, operating systems tools, and utilities.
Gizmo's Tech Support Alert: Claiming "The Best-ever Freeware Utilities List" on its home page, this site has an impressive amount of links for freeware in the areas of security, privacy, encryption, computer maintenance, enhancements to Windows, audio/video/CD/DVD, administration, digital imaging, photo software, system utilities, technical and programming, data recovery, applications, and more. A vast selection of links to freeware, with insightful reviews included, for the frugal and serious computer user to examine and download.
OpenOffice.org: This free and powerful suite is considered the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. Be aware that the different extensions this software uses cannot be read by any computer without the OpenOffice software (printing won't happen, either). Therefore, when saving a word processing file, it may be necessary for you to change it from .odt to .doc by using the drop-down menu for file formats; the same holds true for all the other components in the software. This freeware will replace MS Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, and other programs on your computer. Because it is not an exact clone of its associated software, you will need to practice or fiddle around with it to get used to the differences. But it is easy to learn.
SnapFiles.com: This site is chockful of free software downloads, including CD/DVD burning tools, multimedia streaming, anti-spam and encryption tools for email, dictionary and translation, image gallery tools, screen saver compilers, file encryption tools, compression tools, cookie management, auction tools, web developer tools, desktop tools, pop-up blockers, movie organizers, mp3 players, HTML editors, video editing tools, system maintenance tools, Internet radio and TV, and many, many more tools. We surveyed a number of the sections and all that we explored were indeed providing freeware downloads.
Terrain Tools Freeware: The Terrain Tools Freeware edition, housed at Softree, provides functions for creating and analyzing maps. Coordinates can be entered by mouse or keyboard. Maps can be quickly created using information from a variety of sources, including images (BMP, JPG or TIF) or ASCII coordinates. Drafting and annotation tools are provided as well as calculation of angles, distances, and areas in both English and metric units.
Visual CD 2.0: This downloadable freeware is a disk cataloging tool to index CD/DVDs, floppy disks, hard disks, and even folders. You can then explore the disk catalogs, search files and folders, create MP3 playlist file without having the physical disks in the drive. Upon insertion of the corresponding disk, you can open files, split files into smaller pieces, extract ZIP, RAR, and CAB archive, and much more.
Gibson Research Corporation (GRC) Freeware: This site, which is automatically updated nightly, offers "high-quality, super-small, and super-fast, freely downloadable programs & resources." The freeware list can be sorted either by historical popularity or update age, and there is an interesting collection of freeware links. One freeware utility download that caught our eye on the site was intriguingly titled Shoot the Messenger. Its purpose is to give the user control to disable spam transmissions that are tied to a hidden Internet server in Windows Messenger in NT, 2000, and XP that is running behind the scenes by manufacturer default. Newer versions may not need this disabling tool, but it's worth a "look-see" by Windows users. Another one that piqued our curiosity is Wizmo, a multipurpose, miscellaneous Windows utility that provides an array of single-click functions that are missing from Windows. Triggered by a single mouse click, it can power down your system's displays, activate your screen saver, change or mute audio volume, restart, reboot, or shutdown your system, and much more. It includes a cool built-in "Graviton" screen saver that simulates the motion of any number of mutually gravitationally attracted celestial objects.
FileHippo.com: Updated frequently, this site offers a huge, tantalizing buffet of links to freeware and shareware, including the award-winning Firefox Web browser. Firefox protects you from viruses, spyware, and pop-ups better than most browsers. Other freeware/shareware links for security and anti-spyware, including our favorites of Ad-Aware, AVG Anti-Spyware, Spybot Search and Destroy, and CWShredder. Also available are links to downloadable software for benchmarking, imaging, drivers, file transfer, messaging, firewalls, compression and backup, plugins, cleaning, file sharing, networking, and much more.
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