This is the freeware that I love and actually use. In fact, I’m always amazed how few folks seem to know about some of this stuff. So, I figured I’d list it here.

This is all true freeware and some of it is also available for Linux. Some of it I’ve used for years… other’s I’ve used for only a short while, but I do use them. Some of these I use in building sites, but some I use for just everyday stuff.

Also, there are no duplicates here. If one program does the trick, I don’t list others that also do it. So, yes, it’s biased towards what I think works best. Feel free to post suggestions that I missed below. My comments are in italics. All other text is from the authors of the programs.

7-Zip -
7-Zip is a file archiver with high compression ratio. It supports the following formats: For packing / unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR. For unpacking only: RAR, CAB, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM and DEB. (Hey, if you need more than that, you are way smarter than me). For ZIP and GZIP formats, 7-Zip provides compression ratio that is 2-10 % better than ratio provided by PKZip and WinZip. By the way, it uses a very simple, powerful interface similar to the Windows Explorer and is fast. But, if you need a cute little “wizard” to walk you through the steps, then this will take you a few moments longer to learn. So just learn it and break the wizard habit!.

evolvED -
evolvEd is a general purpose text editor useful for web-developing, programming and scripting. Whether you simply need a powerful replacement for Notepad, a tool for editing your web pages, or a programming IDE, evolvEd does what you want, the way you would expect. This program is awesome. Anyone still using the Windows notepad for any kind of editing of text files (.txt) needs this. But if you ever edit .php or .html files (or do any kind of programming), then you really need this. Sure, I could open Dreamweaver to make a simple change to an .html file, but not after having this. It is three times faster. I’m practically done with the file before Dreamweaver’s splash screen pops up. Plus, and this is big for me, it literally occupies the entire screen (and has built-in font adjustments) - along with line numbering - so I can actually work on the file. The author, David Gabrielsen, is clearly an old DOS or UNIX guy because he has defined hotkeys for everything. You can never have enough hot keys in this mouse-driven world.

AM-DeadLink -
AM-DeadLink detects dead links and duplicates in your Browser Bookmarks. If a Bookmark has become unavailable you can verify it in the internal preview and delete it from your Browser. Additionally you can download FavIcons for all your Favorites and Bookmarks. Very powerful for such a cute little thing. I have nearly 2000 bookmarks (favorites) and used to use this little toy every 3 months usually finding about 30 to 50 favorites that have disappeared or moved which allows me to easily and quickly update them. I like the fact that it will update the favicon. For those who don’t know, Internet Explorer only saves the favicon the first time you add the page to your favorites. If there isn’t one at that time, you don’t get it, even if you keep visiting the site. You have to re-bookmark the site. Or use AM-DeadLink and it will take care of that, too. Nice! (Update: I no longer use AM-DeadLink because I no longer keep my bookmarks on my computer, instead opting to use Del.icio.Us.

AVG Anti-Virus -
AVG Free Edition is available free-of-charge to home users. AVG Free Edition is for private, non-commercial, single home computer use only. I’m a big fan of Peter Norton from the early days of DOS, but the Norton Anti-Virus program is expensive and very invasive to a number of issues with your PC, especially if you are a gamer. AVG, in my opinion, is a better product anyway, updates daily almost. I’ve used it for 2 years and haven’t been given a virus yet. Try it. For Windows only. My only complaint with it is how many times you’ll have to click through their web page above to download it (about four clicks).

FileZilla -
FileZilla is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Well, that’s an understatement of a product summary. FileZilla is probably the single best FTP client I’ve used in nearly 15 years of FTP’ing. And it is free and constantly being made better. It keeps connections open (thank you!), has toggle switches for tree directory listings, and (of course), a “site manager” (Ctrl-S) to flip between sites in a second or less. Lots of hotkeys for everything, click-and-drag file functionality, and default settings for file overwriting that you can switch in a second without crawling deep into an options menu. And it is fast.

HTTrack -
It allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Used to be that I would use this back in the dialup days to browse large sites faster. I use it more often to recreate a site locally to help a friend with, or to study a site’s design a bit more easily (in Dreamweaver) and see how they did things.

PC Wizard -
PC Wizard is a powerful utility designed especially for detection of hardware, but also some more analysis. It’s able to identify a large scale of system components and supports the latest technologies and standards. This tool is periodically updated (usually once per month) in order to provide most accurate results. PC Wizard is also an utility designed to analyze and benchmark your computer system. It can analyze and benchmark many kinds of hardware, such as CPU performance, Cache performance, RAM performance, Hard Disk performance, CD/DVD-ROM performance, Removable/FLASH Media performance, Video performance, MP3 compression performance. Holy cow, you haven’t downloaded it yet? Whenever anyone asks me about a hardware issue they need help with, I make them download this and email me the report. You can put it on a thumb drive or a floppy and run it straight from there - no install needed. There are some other programs on the market (for $), but most of them spend more time with cute interfaces and “recommendations” that are usually not true or stupid (”Get a bigger hard drive” — duh!).

Treepad -
Treepad Lite is a very intuitive, small yet powerful personal database program, only 465 Kb in size. They allow you to store all your notes, emails, texts, hyperlinks, etc. into one or multiple databases. With the look and feel of the familiar Windows explorer, editing, storing, browsing, searching and retrieving your data can not be easier. Well, it isn’t quite a database - it lets you store stuff in a hierarchical tee (outline form essentially) and is very powerful. You could store random info as Word docs in a tree form in your My Documents directory, or you could use Notes in Outlook, but this is way easier, especially for little stuff. I’ll admit I don’t use it as consistently as I’d like to, but I do use it. The company sells some other versions that are even more powerful. There are small cults on the net devoted to this little guy, so check it out.

WinMerge -
WinMerge is a visual text file differencing and merging tool. It is highly useful for determining what has changed between project versions, and then merging changes between versions. Don’t let the word “project” fool you. Just because a lot of developers use this tool (or one like it), you can use it to compare two text files side by side. I usually use it when I have something minor between two files. It is a lot easier than scrolling through an entire file looking for a semi-colon missing.

PDF Redirect -
Create universal, standard, reliable and secure PDF files, recognized by industries and governments around the world. Perfect for sharing information with others. I can’t say enough about this. If you don’t have a way to convert files to PDF (without buying the full-blown Adobe Acrobat), you need this program. It does not put a watermark or any image on your file that will distract you or the readers of it. It is far more professional to send a PDF file to clients than a Word or Excel file (which could accidentally - or intentionally - be modified far too easily). This program even lets you merge multiple PDF’s into one file.

CCleaner -
CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less that a second to run) and contains no spyware or adware. I probably run this about every 3 to 6 months. Even as careful as I am about what I allow on my computer, I’m always a bit suprised to see what has snuck onto it. And of course, being a big fan of trying out new things, and then later un-installing them, the registry cleaner is very wonderful tool.

SpyBot - Search and Destroy -
Detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven’t intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been “hijacked” (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don’t see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is free, so there’s no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer. I’ve been more than pleased with SpyBot, having tried a number of other Spyware removal programs. Some experts recommend using two Spyware programs, so if you need another, I’d recommend looking into AVG’s new spyware program. I haven’t tried it, since I’m happy with SpyBot, but I can’t say enough good things about their Anti-Virus program (above), so I’m sure they’ll do a pretty good job with their new spyware program, too. Incidentally, SpyBot will block a lot of spyware to begin with, but that feature primarily works with Internet Explorer. If you use another browser, you can still use SpyBot to cleanse your system, but the blocking features will be limited. Then again, what other browser is going to allow itself to be picked off the way Internet Explorer does? Exactly.

Posted in: General