The Freeware List!


Fledgling Freddie
Apr 2, 2005
Saw this on a few forums and thought it would be handy to have here. Just a simple list of the best freeware around. Feel free to sticky. Enjoy :)

Best Free Web Browser
Internet Explorer is a good browser but it has become such a target for malicious exploits that it is now a major security risk. Quite separately, the browser itself is now looking dated with most alternative products offering tabbed browsing and other productivity enhancements. There are several excellent alternatives but Mozilla FireFox is the stand-out pick. It's much safer than Internet Explorer, so safe in fact that many users have reported no spyware infections since they started using the product. It's also browses faster than Internet Explorer and since the release of version 1.0, it's stable and reliable as well. It loads a little slower than IE but once running, it zips along at lightning speed. With tabbed browsing and more free extensions than you could ever want, it offers a major upgrade in your browsing experience. Unlike IE, it's also standards compliant. FireFox is now my everyday browser though occasionally I have to fire up IE to browse a site designed around IE's non standard features. (4.7MB) <= Free FireFox migration guide

Best Free Anti-Virus Software
There are two equal recommendations in this category. First there is AVG Antivirus 7.0 Free Edition. This product has been continuously refined since it was first released in 1991 and now offers very impressive protection capabilities. Additionally, it's relatively small, light on resources, has regular automatic updates and handles email scanning. There is a free and a pro version, the only difference being that the free version has a few non-critical features disabled and has no direct technical support. Even so, it's an impressive package and offers the financially challenged a real alternative to the major anti-virus suites. Equally impressive is the free Avast! scanner though its funky media player style interface is not to everyone's taste. Avast! also required periodic re-registration while AVG does does not. (5MB)

Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover Updated March 1, 2005
I used to recommend SpyBot Search and Destroy but I'm afraid its detection rate has fallen off recently. I now recommend Microsoft's Antispyware program which is currently available as a free beta to users of Windows 2000 and later. It' s based on the Giant Antispyware product that Microsoft purchased late in 2004 and has impressive detection. It also has excellent real time protection against the current plague of browser hijackers, auto-dialers and other surreptitiously downloaded scumware products. Microsoft have announced that the product will remain free even when out of beta so it's a good long term choice. My second selection in this category is Ad-aware SE. It's free too and works with all versions of Windows though the free version lacks the active protection offered by Giant. However you can add active protection by using other free products (see below) I use both Giant and Ad-aware as they tend to find slightly different things. If possible, I suggest you use both as well. ( 6.4MB) (1.7MB)

Best Free Browser Protection Utility Updated March 1, 2005
There's a scumware plague at the moment. All it takes is a visit to a pushy web site or a loaded shareware install and next minute your Internet Explorer homepage has been changed, your default search setting altered, unwanted ads pop up on your screen and worse. SpywareBlaster is not a scanner like Ad-Aware rather a stand-alone inoculation program that prevents the initial infection. It provides active protection for Internet Explorer users against thousands of malevolent products that use ActiveX based exploits and offers defenses against unwanted cookies as well. A companion program to SpywareBlaster is SpywareGuard. It is a protective program that checks programs for malware signatures before they are executed and checks program behavior as well. Both products are well executed, regularly updated and work well with each other. If you are using Microsoft Antispyware, Ad-aware Pro or other anti-spyware utility with active protection you probably don't need these products. (2.2MB) (1.96MB)

Best Free Firewall
Two things need to be said about firewalls. First, the number and quality of free products is remarkable. Second, no other single product category seems to cause as much angst to average users in their installation and day-day-use. That's why my choice for "best" goes to Kerio Personal Firewall, the product that seems to cause the fewest problems for users. Don't get me wrong, it is also an excellent firewall . More adventurous users and the technically inclined may however wish to consider ZoneAlarm and Sygate. The most technically advanced firewall of all is possibly the latest Tiny version. However it is so fiendishly difficult to install and setup that I can only recommend it to network specialists and masochists. Note: The free and paid versions of Kerio are the same. If you don't buy the product some advanced features are automatically turned off after 30 days. (7.3MB)

Best Free Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover Updated March 1, 2005
Ewido is the best of a new crop of anti-Trojan programs. On my recent tests over at it emerged as was one of the few products that could reliably detect polymorphic and process injecting Trojans that were totally missed by anti-virus products like Norton and AVG. No, it's not as effective as TDS-3 or Trojan Hunter but these are shareware products. As ever, you get what you pay for. In particular the free version of Ewido doesn’t have a memory monitor but the on-demand scanner is however, excellent. The free version download is actually the same as the paid version but after 14 days the memory monitor becomes non-functional. I recommend that all average PC users who don't have an anti-trojan scanner download the product and scan their PCs weekly. I suspect you may be surprised at what you will find. High risk PC users such as P2P file sharers and frequenters of hack sites, should however consider the industrial strength protection of TDS-3 or Trojan Hunter both of which offer the enhanced protection they need. (2.2MB)

Best Free Intrusion Prevention and Detection Utility for Home Use
These days all users face a real risk of malicious programs secretly installing themselves on your computer. Anti-virus and anti-spyware products dramatically reduce the chance of infection but you can enhance your protection further by installing an additional layer of defense with an intrusion detection program. For advanced users Prevx is a stand out recommendation. It's so good I made it my Free Product of the Year for 2004. However it's talkative nature and sometimes cryptic messages make it only suitable for experienced users. For other users (but not beginners) I recommend WinPatrol. Like Prevx it provides a vital "last ditch" defense layer by telling you when a product is trying to change any of the critical settings on your PC such as the registry and auto-start areas. WinPatrol simply throws up a dialog asking whether you want to allow the change or not. Of course being warned is useless unless you have some idea how to respond to the warning. That's why neither Prevx nor WinPatrol is suited to inexperienced users. (7.5MB) (880KB) <= Brief survey of IDS software

Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service Updated March 1, 2005
There are lots of reasons folks have for wanting to surf anonymously, ranging from simple paranoia to possibly being murdered by a malevolent foreign government. Whatever the reasons, commercial services that offer anonymity are doing real well. However one of the best services JAP, is totally free. In fact JAP is perhaps a little too good. That's why the German Police insisted in 2004 that a backdoor be put into the product to allow interception of child pornographers. This was done but subsequently removed as a result of court action by JAP. An alternative to JAP is another system called Tor. However the US Navy origin of Tor gives rise to the suspicion that this system may indeed have a permanent backdoor. Whatever, both JAP and Tor offer a level of secrecy that is better than many commercial systems. However expect your surfing to slow down as you'll be relayed through a chain of servers. You'll also need to change your browser settings to work through a proxy.


Fledgling Freddie
Apr 2, 2005

Best Free Software Suite
The Open CD site offers for free a wonderful collection of just about every application software product you need to run a PC. Many of these substitute admirably for expensive commercial products. There is Abi Word as an alternative for MS Word, OpenOffice for MS Office XP, ThunderBird for Outlook, The Gimp for Adobe Photoshop, 7-zip for WinZIP are many more. If you then add to this collection some of the other utilities from my "46 Best-ever Utilities" collection you will have all the software you'll ever need without spending a cent. Note: All of the Open CD utilities can be downloaded for free as a CD ISO image. If you have a slow connection you can purchase the CD for a very modest cost.

(Sponsored Links)

The Best Windows Backup Software
At this site sixteen data backup products were reviewed and rated but only one get "Editor's choice."

The Best Spyware Detector
If you use Ad-aware or SpyBot you will be surprised just how more effectively SpySweeper detects and protects your PC from Adware, Spyware, Trojans and other malicious products. That's why it won the prized "Editor's Choice" award in PC Magazine's massive March 2004 survey of anti-Spyware products. Try the free evaluation copy and see for yourself. Use this link for direct download =>

The Best Remote Access Software
Our reviewer had given this product category away as "too slow, tool clumsy and too unreliable" but after reviewing this product he's changed his mind; "at long last a remote access solution that actually works! Quite frankly we agree with him, it's an impressive product. Read the full review here:

The Best Anti-trojan Scanner
Most users are not aware that their anti-virus scanner can only provide a moderate level of protection against trojan programs that try and take control of your PC. To really protect your computer, you need a dedicated anti-trojan program. Our editor's have reviewed every major product on the market and have concluded that two scanners stand head and shoulders above the other contenders.

Best Free File Manager
Windows Explorer is fine for simple file management activities but when you have some serious work to do, you need a two pane file manager. I use Directory Opus which is excellent but costs $59. Recently I discovered xplorer². It offers most of the functionality of Directory Opus and is totally free. As a bonus, its user interface is very similar to Windows Explorer, so most users will find this tool easy to learn and use.(575KB)

Best Free Email Client Updated March 1, 2005
Thunderbird, the free open source POP and IMAP email client, has been finally released after a long period of gestation. It was developed by, the same folks who brought you FireFox. Feature-wise it sits somewhere between Outlook Express and Outlook which means that it offers an upgrade to Express users and a downgrade to those who use the more advanced PIM features of Outlook. All Outlook Express users should seriously consider switching. You’ll be rewarded with a more advanced product including built- in spam filtering, built-in RSS reader, better security, message color coding, fast email search and the ability to view your mail in conversational threads. On top of that, the product is more secure than OE and, unlike the latter, is still being actively developed. The transition is made easier by the fact that Thunderbird looks and works similar to OE. Tools within Thunderbird also allow you to easily import OE account settings and stored email. Outlook users who aren’t reliant on calendaring, Microsoft Exchange or Outlook plug-ins should also consider switching. If you switch to Thunderbird, you should also consider using the free Copernic Desktop Search program, the latest version of which now indexes Thunderbird email files.

Best Free WebMail Accessory Updated March 1, 2005
Two suggestions: the first is a nifty free product called YPOPs! (formerly YahooPops!) that allows you to collect your Yahoo webmail from within your POP email client such as Outlook, Thunderbird or Eudora. I use it on multiple Yahoo accounts and it works wonderfully. The second suggestion is an Open Source utility called MrPostman. It's a much more flexible product than YPOPs! and will download HotMail, Lycos, Yahoo and several other webmail services into your POP email client. It can also give you access to email accounts on MS Exchange 5.5. If you only use Yahoo webmail, go with YPOPs! as MrPostman is a more complex program and may need a bit of fiddling to work correctly. You'll find a couple of links below that will help you. Note that MrPostman requires the Java Runtime Environment to be installed on your PC. (1.3MB) (1.5MB) <= Installing Mr Postman <= MrPostman forum

Best Free Outlook Add-in (1)
I hate opening HTML email. Despite multiple layers of protection I just know that one day some cunning new exploit is going to get me. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about PocketKnife Peek, a small free Outlook 2002 add-in that allows you to preview your HTML email as text.

Best Free Outlook Add-in (2)
RealAccount is a freeware add-in for MS Outlook 2002 and later that allows you to designate a default email account and signature for any Outlook Folder. The program is a late beta but has proved totally stable on my Windows XP Pro PC. Yet another free utility that provides functionality that should have been included in the original product. (338K)

Best Free Outlook Express Backup
This free utility allows you to do a full or selective backup of OE's critical files including mail folders, newsgroups, address book and identity settings. Simple, effective ... neat. (2.1MB)

Best Free Spam Filter for the Average User
Mailwasher is for most folk, the easiest way of free option for dealing with Spam. It's an email preview utility that allows you to check your email on your mail server before you download it to your PC. The advantage of this approach is that you can kill unwanted messages including spam, viruses and large attachments before they get anywhere near your computer. Mailwasher automatically flags for you any messages containing viruses and possible spam which makes for quick and easy identification though you still need to check this manually to ensure you agree with its classification. The current version of Mailwasher is shareware and if you can afford $37 then buy it. However the last free version of Mailwasher before it went commercial is still floating around the web. It lacks some of the advanced spam detection features of the latest version but is still very effective. You can get it using the second link below. Alternatively, try XTerminator which provides some of the same features of Mailwasher and is totally free. ( 3.05MB) <= commercial version (1.57MB) (1.87MB) ***

Best Free Spam Filter for Experienced Users
When it comes to effectiveness, POPFile beats the pants off most other spam filters I've tried. But this effectiveness takes a little time to develop. POPFile is a statistical filter so it has to be trained to recognize your spam from your normal mail. It takes a week or so before it starts becoming accurate and best results may take a month or more. POPFile works as a proxy mail server so that means that it can be used with any POP email client. Setup is reasonably straightforward for experienced users but beginners should stick with Mailwasher. Outlook users should check out SpamBayes, another open source statistical filter that offers an Outlook plug-in that makes it more more convenient to use. (4.3MB) (3.6MB)

Best Free Popup Stopper
The need for popup stopper utilities has fallen away in recent months as many browsers such as FireFox now have this function built in. If you need a separate popup stopper and have good PC skills I suggest you try The Proxomitron.. It operates by filtering and transforming all your Web pages on the fly. As a result you can not only stop pop-ups but pop-unders, ads, flash animations, status bar scrollers and just about anything else. Besides, next time you are asked what pop-up stopper you use, you can answer; "why, I use The Proxomitron" and how cool is that. The first link below is to version 4.5, the last and final version of this superb utility. The following two links offer useful setup and usage tips. Note: For Novice PC users I suggest you try the Google toolbar rather than The Proxomitron. It's free as well and has an excellent popup filter built in. It's nowhere near as flexible as as The Proxomitron, but it requires no setup. As a bonus it also makes Google searches easier.

Best Free Desktop Search Utility Updated March 1, 2005
In early 2004 there were no contenders for this title. Today we have a wealth of choices. In a close race I would have to say the Free Desktop Search from Yahoo comes out in front. It's powered by the well established X1 local search engine and can index the contents of 200 different file types including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Outlook, Outlook Express, HTML, text, ZIP and Adobe PhotoShop. At the moment it will only handle email files from Outlook and Outlook Express and although it will index html files, it can't index your web browsing history. In effect, it offers most of the benefits of the full $75 X1 search product for zip. Unfortunately though, to run it you'll need Windows 2000 or later. If you are stuck with earlier version of Windows then try the free Copernic Desktop Search. It offers many of the same features as the Yahoo product though the presentation of search results is not quite as elegant. On the positive side, the latest version of Copernic will index Thunderbird email files while Yahoo will not. (7.9MB) (2.3MB)

Best Free Notepad Replacement
There are lots of text editors and Notepad replacements. Some of these aspire to be programming editors while others try to be word processors. What I love about EditPad is that, unlike the others, it concentrates on simply being a better plain text editor and it succeeds brilliantly. It has a Notepad like interface combined with tabbed document windows and the ability to open as many documents as you like with no file size limitations. I use it every day for tasks as diverse as writing Support Alert Newsletter to examining my web log files. Some of the latter can be up to 100MB, yet EditPad handles these huge files with ease. (849KB).

The Best File Archiver/Zip Utility New March 1, 2005
Users are spoiled with choice in this category with QuickZip, ICEOWS, IZArc, TUGZip, ZipGenius and 7-Zip all worthy contenders for the title. 7-Zip v4.15 is to be commended for it's solid engineering; It was the only product in this group that could unpack a multi-part RAR volume embedded in a ZIP archive and the only product to give a meaningful error message when an attempt was made to unpack a 256bit encrypted WinZip archive. However it's lack of drop and drag from an archive is a real minus as is the fact that it was the only product that required configuring after installation. It also supports only 12 formats - it can't for example read ACE archives. ZipGenius v 5.51 is the easiest to use and has the most professional looking interface but was the slowest to run. ICEOWS v4.2 (the former ArjFolder) opens all archives in an Explorer Window rather than its own control panel, a feature some might find comforting but I found limiting. TUGZip v 3.2 is a terrific product marred by the lack of captions on its control panel icons - I got confused every time I used it. QuickZip 4.5 impressed me greatly with its features. It was also the only product that displayed different icons for different archives which proved to be a surprisingly useful feature. QuickZip was however, just a little slow to run and supports fewer archive types than some of the other products - it's another product that can't read the relatively common ACE format. That leaves IZArc v 3.5; It's relatively fast, easy to use, has full drop and drag support, can read nearly 50 archive types including media formats like ISO, BIN and IMG and can write (and convert) to 12 archive types. The only downside is that it uses one icon to represent all archive types and a quite ugly icon too. That aside, it is a terrific product and gets my hearty recommendation. Note: If you already use WinZip you'll find IZArc an excellent companion product. It can read just about all the archive formats WinZip can't, including RAR. Make sure though, that after installing IZArc, you don't let it change your WinZip file type associations. Just let IZArc handle file types not covered by WinZip. Freeware, Windows 9x and later, 3.1MB


Fledgling Freddie
Apr 2, 2005
And more.

Best Free Hotkey Utility
Hotkeycontrol XP is a free utility that allows you to define your own hotkeys so that a single key press can launch an application, insert commonly used text, change your volume, or just about anything else. Hotkeycontrol works with all versions of Windows from 98 onwards, though some features will only work with Win2K or XP. (0.91KB)

Best Free Registry Cleaner
To keep the registries on my PCs in top running order I use Fix-It utilities This is a commercial product but I must admit that Toni Helenius' Easy Cleaner performs almost as well and is totally free. As a bonus, it will also detect duplicate files and help you clean up temp files to make more disk space. Remember though, as with every Registry cleaner, to back up your Windows Registry before use. (2.64MB)

Best Free BitTorrent Client
It's amazing how quickly BitTorrent has become one of the major download formats. With good reason, too: it's fast, equitable and efficient. If you haven't yet installed a BitTorrent client on your PC, you should as there are some great free clients available. I recommend the Open Source program Azureus. It's beautifully implemented, well supported and, being Java based, is available for multiple platforms. Of course the Java code will eat up your CPU cycles so you need a reasonably fast PC. Those with older machines should check out BitTornado. It's also cross platform and is fast and highly configurable as well. Both products are adware and spyware free. (4.4MB) (3.3MB

The Best Free FTP Client New March 1, 2005
I used WS_FTP Pro as my FTP client for years. What started out as simple and effective product gradually with each new version became more feature bloated and less effective for routine tasks. With the release of Version 9 it was clear to me that the product had totally lost its way so I started looking for an alternative. After trying seven different FTP clients I decided that the best for me was the Open Source utility FileZilla. It uses a simple layout based on a two pane interface that looks a bit like the early versions of WS_FTP. But this simplicity is deceptive, it is actually a quite powerful product There's a full featured site manager, firewall and proxy support, SSL and Kerberos GSS security, restart, drop and drag and a lot more. The only significant feature that's missing is site to site transfer but that's of no importance to me. What is of importance is that FileZilla is fast, totally reliable, secure and and very easy to use. There's also a free FileZilla FTP server which I haven't used but I hear that it's just as good as the client. (4.5MB)

Best Free Bookmark Cleaner
AM-DeadLink scans your bookmark file for dead links or duplicate links. When I tried it on my huge favorites file I discovered 17% of my links were dead. I've now got a much leaner set of favorites and the comfort of knowing that the links actually work. (546KB)

Best Free Route Tracer
3D Traceroute graphically displays Internet route information. You can use it for technical tasks such as diagnosing slow connections or for general purpose snooping like determining the location and owner of a web site or tracing spammers. (996KB)

Best Free Screen Capture Utility
I've used over half a dozen screen-capture utilities and none of them has really satisfied. Until now. Gadwin screen capture does exactly what I want in the way I want. Further, it avoids the trap of providing lots of useless and confusing features. It's the little things that count like making the hot key PrtSc so I don't have to remember it, and automatically sequentially naming the output files for multiple screen shots. Gadwin will stay on my PC permanently. (976KB)

Best Free Search Toolbar
Search toolbars allow users to do web searches without having to go first to the home page of a search engine. This really saves a lot of time. In the last year search toolbars have become a hotly competed product class and as result, users now have an excellent choice. The "best" in terms of features is probably Yahoo's Toolbar whose features include anti-spyware capabilities as well as popup blocking. It's for Internet Explorer but they are currently offering a beta version for FireFox. My only beef with the Yahoo product is that I prefer to use Google for my web searches rather than Yahoo and that's why I use the Google Toolbar which also offers popup blocking though no anti-spyware features. Again it's only for IE though there is version for FireFox available from the Mozilla extensions site. Some folks still like Dave’s Quick Search Bar because it gives access to multiple search engines. Another advantage is that it resides in your task bar rather than your browser so it's easily accessible from any application. Other Dave's features include a dictionary, thesaurus, calculator and a lot of customizability. (3MB) (327KB) (447KB)

Best Free Download Accelerator
For some time I've been recommending Star Downloader but the freeware version has been effectively frozen at version 1.44 with future with enhancements restricted to the shareware version. After trying half a dozen other products, I've settled on "Free Downloader" as my new selection. It's fast, stable and integrates well into both Internet Explorer and FireFox. Furthermore, there is no embedded adware or nag screen. After using it for a couple of weeks, I've decided that it's actually better than Star Downloader. (1.31MB).

Best Free Digital Image Editor Updated March 1, 2005
The Gimp is a graphics processing program similar in function to Photoshop and PaintShop. The big difference is that it's free, the others cost big bucks. But don't think free means limited. On the contrary this product can read multiple formats, has filters, textures and color effects to burn and can even handle layers. The latest version, V2.2, is excellent and a huge improvement over its predecessors. The interface is better, drop and drag now works between most applications and there are many more previews. It's a big step forward though it's fair to say the product is still less than intuitive to use. Note you need the 6.9 MB GTK Runtime Environment 2.4.14 or later installed (see second link below) before you install The Gimp. That's just another complication in a complex install procedure that confounds beginners and can even confuse experienced users. If The Gimp just doesn't do it for you then do yourself a favor and check out It's an amazingly sophisticated piece of work from computer science students at Washington State University that's just about as powerful as The Gimp but a lot easier to use and install. It is however only for Windows 2000 and you'll need Microsoft's bulky .NET framework installed on your PC. (7.07MB) (7.7MB)

Best Free Web Site Ripper
HTTrack is one impressive product: it's easy to use, has an excellent user interface, offers every feature you could want, is blindingly fast and free of any adware as well. If you like to download web sites so that you can "browse them offline", this is the product to get. ( 3.23MB)

Best Free DLL Cleaner
Over time most PCs become cluttered up with the unwanted remainders of long deleted programs. DLL Archive is a free utility that will scan your PC for DLLs that are no longer referenced. You can then archive the unwanted programs away or delete them entirely. Archived items can easily be restored to their original location if any problems arise. (227KB)

Best Free TCP Settings Tweaker
Whether you use a modem or broadband, you'll get a faster connection if you tweak your connection's TCP parameters. Among the most important of these is MaxMTU which, in simple terms, needs to be set to the largest value possible without your data being broken up into smaller chunks en-route. Most techies determine MaxMTU by trial and error pinging using different packet sizes but it's a tedious procedure and definitely not for beginners. TCPOptimizer from is a free utility that will do the job for you automatically. Furthermore, it will use this value to advise you on your other TCP settings and then apply these values at the press of the button. There are commercial programs that will do much the same thing but TCPOptimizer does it just as well and is totally free. The only minus is the lack of in-program help. However you'll find a useful FAQ at the SpeedGuide site. (225KB)

Best Free Digital Photo Organizer and Editor
It’s rare for me to be utterly wowed by a product but this one certainly did it. When you first run Picasa it offers to scan your whole hard drive (or designated locations) for photos and videos. canning is surprisingly quick and when finished you’ll have all your shots neatly organized into folders on a time line basis. Now you can view you shots one at a time, in slideshow or traversing the time line. The editing features are limited compared to professional image editors yet they provide you with every function amateur photographers could conceivably need including one click red eye reduction. Similarly adding labels to photos is a cinch while a simple but effective star rating system allows you to flag favorite snaps. Individual folders can also be password protected. Facilities are provided to import your images from your camera in multiple formats including RAW. You can send photos to your choice of web printing service, cut a CD, print to a local printer or share with others via your own blog or instant messaging. Simply sensational. Windows 98 or later, 300MHz Pentium with 128MB memory or better, 3.2MB.

Best Free File Cleaner
I've tried quite a few commercial products designed to clean unused, temporary and unnecessary files off your hard disk but must say that the free utility "Empty Temp Folders" ranks with the best. It takes a few minutes to set up but after that, just press a button to recover many megabytes of disk space. An excellent alternative is CCleaner. It's a tad easier to use though not as effective in removing temporary files. Both products may be used together for maximum cleaning. You may be surprise how much disk space you will free up. (667KB) (403KB)

Best Free Resource Meter
This is cute. TinyResMeter is an itsy-bitsy system monitor. Unlike many other monitors, it doesn't consume a lot of CPU utilization in order to tell you your CPU utilization. In addition to CPU usage, you can optionally monitor cache, RAM, page file and swap file usage, running processes and threads, disk space utilization and a number of other parameters as well.
Also built-in, is a screen grabber that saves the current screen to disk when you press PrintScreen. How they fit all this into 96KB beats me. I

Best Free Sticky Notes Utility
Some people hate these programs others swear they can't work effectively without them. I used to be in the first category but with so many things on my plate these days, I'm slowly being converted. The function that I find really useful is the reminder that pops up at a designated time and date. I use it for simple things like "put up the latest issue on the web site." ATnotes is a neat implementation that features configurable alarms, resizable windows, variable fonts and a host of other useful features. The product is remarkably similar to the commercial sticky notes utility called, TurboNotes. Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Maybe not. (723KB)

Best Free Secure Erase Utility
Eraser is a free, GNU license utility that will securely erase files, folders or even whole disks from any Windows or DOS PC. Eraser overwrites data area with selectable random data patterns and also wipes data in the paging file, Internet cache, temporary files, Internet cookies, unused disk space and a number of other places where data can secretly lurk. It handles FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS partitions as well. Erasing files with high security will always be a difficult and time consuming task and can never offer absolute 100% safety. However Eraser makes the task about as easy as it be, with a security level beyond most conceivable requirements. An impressive package. (2.6MB)

Best Free Registry Editor
I've used the full version of Resplendent Registry Editor for years and have never had any reason to look for an alternative. Recently a subscriber asked me what was the best free registry editor and that made me realize I've never looked at that particular product category. The first product I checked out was Registrar Lite, the free version of Resplendent Registry Editor and I'd have to say it's an impressive freebie. To start with, it works totally reliably - an essential feature for any registry editor. On top of that, the user interface is simple, the functionality excellent and, perhaps most importantly, it has a really fast search. I did, however, miss a "search and delete" option - that's unfortunately only available on the full product. That said, it leaves Regedit for dead. If you know a better free registry editor, drop me an email. ( 2.0MB).

Best Free Process Viewer
PrcView has long been my personal choice but Process Explorer has pushed it aside. The reason? A better display setup coupled with more features and even more information. Process Explorer uses two vertical panes. The top contains all active processes while the second shows either all the handles opened by a selected process or, optimally, a list of DLLs and memory mapped files. A very handy search feature allows you to work backwards from named DLLs or handles to the owning process. A gem. Freeware, 230KB.

Best Free PC Inventory Tool
The freeware utility AIDA32 was the best system inventorying tool ever regardless of price. It documented just about every aspect of your hardware and software configuration as well as checking networks and providing memory benchmarks. However the developer announced in March 2004 that the free product had been frozen. Development work shifted to a commercial organization called Lavalys and AIDA32 was re-launced as Everest. Lavalys now provide a commercial "professional" version of Everest as well as a free home version. The free version is not as full featured as the old AIDA32 but it is still impressive. You can however still find the old AIDA32 at the second link below. (3.0MB) (5MB)

Best Free Search and Replace Utility
Until recently my choice in this category was HandyFile's excellent Find and Replace program but alas, this has now gone commercial. I've looked long and hard for an equally competent replacement but can find none. The best I could find is Search and Replace 98. It's effective enough and will certainly satisfy most users' needs but lacks the finesse of HandyFile's product . If someone has a copy of the last free version of HandyFile Search and Replace could they contact me at and I'll make it available for download.

Best Free Outliner
I'm not a great fan of outliners - my brain doesn't work that way. Some folks however, swear by them and if that includes you, then you should check out Keynote, an Open Source freeware program that has a dedicated band of followers. Its major design attribute is its ease of use. Words like "natural" and "seamless" come close to the mark but really don't capture the essence of what is really a great design. What do you do with it? Well to quote the web site “KeyNote is used by screenwriters to draft screenplays, by medical doctors to keep patient databases, by developers to store source code snippets - and to everyone it serves as a place to put all the random pieces of information that have no particular structure of relationship to other data, and do not fit easily in task-specific applications such as word-processors, databases or spreadsheets.” (1.7MB)

Best Free Rename Utility
Lupas Rename 2000 is a small Windows utility that globally renames all the files in a directory and its subdirectories. It can convert names to upper/lower case, change the case of the first letter, add text, left crop, right crop and just about anything else you can think of. And unlike DOS based utilities, it will work on hidden files as well. Add in a nice GUI interface, an undo feature, full preview of changes and the fact that it's free and you have a utility that should be in every toolkit.


Fledgling Freddie
Apr 2, 2005

Best Free Windows Driver Backup
I used to recommend WinDriversBackup for this task but it has now, unfortunately, morphed into shareware. However, I can suggest you try WinRet as a replacement. It will not only back up your drivers but also your system registry, program settings and preferences, shortcuts, Favorites, Outlook Express folders, accounts and message filters as well. As a bonus, it allows you to tweak some of your system settings. I didn't try the latter but can report that the driver backup and restore worked well. It's not quite as simple to use as WindriversBackup but, then again, it has much more functionality. (227KB)

The Best Free PDF Writer Updated March 1, 2005
The top choice here is PDFCreator, an open source program from SourceForge that works by setting up a pseudo printer in your system. To create a PDF you just select the PDF "printer" and write to it. This means you can create PDFs from Word, Excel or indeed any program that allows you to print. A good second choice is CutePDF Writer a which is cut-down version of the commercial CutePDF product. It works in a similar way to PDFCreator but it's only free for personal use. ( 2.6MB) (1.04MB)

Best Free File Comparison Utility
WinMerge is a free Windows utility that compares two files and identifies the differences. The differences can then be merged from one file into the other. This is the sort of product that is ideal when you have several different versions of a file and are not sure of how they differ. The product is geared to text files so it won't be much use to you with Word Processing or other complex formatted documents But for text reports or computer programs, WinMerge is ideal. (514KB)

Best Tabbed Internet Explorer Variant
Tabbed IE variants seem to be proliferating wildly and with good reason. The one that I like most is a freeware product called Maxthon (formerlyMyIE2). It works as a small efficient shell that uses the IE rendering engine. After using Maxthon for a while, Internet Explorer seem totally out-of-date and painfully cumbersome. Don't expect a lot of documentation but if you read the FAQ (see below) you'll have no problems. Some folks prefer the free Avant browser to Maxthon. It's a close call; Avant has a cleaner look while Maxthon is more full featured. In the last analysis it's Maxthon's ability to accept Internet Explorer plug-ins that put it a nose in front. (1.51MB) (1.32MB)
Best Free Encryption Utility
This is what the web site says: "dsCrypt is AES/Rijndael file encryption software with simple, multi-file, drag-and-drop operations. It features optimal implementation, performance and safety measures. dsCrypt uses an advanced encryption algorithm and offers unique options for enhanced security." To that I'll add the fact that it's tiny, easy to use, has open code, employs proven techniques that are essentially unbreakable and comes from a highly reputable source. In summary, dsCrypt offers the average user everything they want in a secure encryption program and it's free. That's why I use it myself. (25KB)

Best Free Time Correction Utility
A lot of folks have difficulty getting time correction software to work on their PC. If that's you then you should try Dimension 4, a free utility that gives you the choice of connecting to a time server either by standard TCP protocol or by the more common (and more problem-prone) SNTP protocol. If you haven't yet got a time correction utility, this is the one. It's free, it’s easy to use, and it has every function that you could conceivably want. Because it works from both the command line and Windows, it's ideal for batch files, too. (292KB)
Best Free Startup Manager Updated March 1, 2005
Everyone needs a startup program utility so they can exercise control over what third party programs start automatically with Windows. My first choice is Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel. It’s small, and easy to use yet has powerful features including the ability to edit or add entries. An equally good choice is Nir Sofer's StartupRun. Unlike Startup Control Panel it lists all startup programs in a single list rather than in tabs according to location. It also has a lot more information on each program and has extensive editing features as well which means that it's definitely not for Newbies. Each product is excellent. Try both and make a personal choice. (59KB) (68KB)

Best Free File Backup Program Updated March 1, 2005
Karen's Replicator is a straight-forward backup utility that copies individual files, folders and even entire drives to another location. The backup can be on another partition, local drive, network drive or removable device. Its key feature is the ability to schedule automatic backups so that you can make regular automatic backups of critical files. I use it to make hourly backups of the file containing my notes for future issues of my newsletter. Simple, effective and free. (1.4MB)

Free NFO Viewer
Many freeware files are distributed with descriptive NFO and DIZ files as part of the distribution package. These are just plain text files so you can view them with Notepad or other text editor but often the formatting is lost. Try this tiny little viewer that's built for the job. It's free and once associated with the NFO and DIZ file types, works seamlessly, a true "install and forget" product.

Best Free Data Recovery Utility
PC Inspector File Recovery 3 is a free utility that does an impressive job recovering accidentally deleted files or files lost through corruption of the file system. It has some nice features, like the ability to recover files with lost headers, and to recover partitions even when the boot sector has been lost or damaged. It works with the FAT16/FAT32 and NTFS file systems. This is no home written utility - it is a serious product from a reputable German company with a long history in commercial data recovery. PCI is the ideal product for those who want the security of a data recovery program but are not prepared to fork our big bucks for the extra features of high end products. (2.8MB)

Best Free Remote Control Software
Ultr@VNC is a client/server package that allows remote control of another PC using a TCP/IP connection. It works with Windows W9x/NT/2K/XP and offers all the features you need including auto-configuration, easy user interface, extensive hotkeys and embedded file transfer. Apart from the fact that it's free, its strong suite is its speed. Ultr@VNC must be the fastest remote control package I've ever used. Just the thing for accessing your home PC while traveling, off-site troubleshooting or general network administration.


These specialist free utilities don't fit into any particular product category but are great products that fill a real need:

Restore Missing Toolbars
Inexperienced PC users just always seem to be losing their Windows and Internet Explorer toolbars. I've never quite worked out exactly how they do it but they sure manage it somehow. Luckily, this free utility makes recovery a snack.

Locate Required DLLs
This free utility can be a lifesaver. It identifies all the DLL and OCX support files required to operate any Windows 32 bit executable file.

Lock Down Your Icons
Sick of Windows moving your icons around on the desktop? Lock them down with this nifty free utility. (400KB)

Hides Personal Files from the Boss
Camouflage is a free utility that will hide your personal or confidential files within another file. The neat thing is that the container file looks and works like a normal file of that format. So, by way of example, you could embed a secret message in a Word file which could be opened by anyone and appear to be just a normal Word file. The intended recipient could use their copy of Camouflage to open the file, enter the password and extract the embedded information. This free program is not intended to provide military strength protection but rather a convenient way to sneak information past unnecessarily prying eyes. Note: It looks like the author's web site is down, however you can download Camouflage from the other links below. (2.65MB)

Share Bookmarks between Browsers Updated March 1, 2005
BookMarkBridge is a free open source utility that allows you to share and synchronize your bookmarks between several browsers. I've got 3 browsers installed at the moment: IE 6, Mozilla-FireFox and Netscape 4.7. BookMarkBridge correctly identified and synchronized the first two but it couldn't cope with the old version of Netscape. If you use FireFox as your primary browser check out the SyncMarks extension. It automatically updates your Internet Explorer Favorites every time you change your FireFox Bookmarks.


Fledgling Freddie
Dec 22, 2003
Hi Dommers

Thanks for posting that, but in the future may I ask that you keep it a little more managable? :) It's just what's 'Best' is highly debatable and depends very much on what's right for the user. Furthermore such content lists become rapidly outdated as time goes on. That said, thanks for your efforts, I'm sure many people will find it useful :D

Kind Regards


Fledgling Freddie
Dec 28, 2003
/bump, this stuff is useful :p

EDIT: Just saw it might not have needed a bump, but I found it using the /search tool :p


Fledgling Freddie
Dec 22, 2003
For future reference, please don't bump threads unless there is something to contribute. As you say, the search option is there for a reason! Thanks :)

Kind Regards


Resident Freddy
Dec 22, 2003
yer need to add rianlainder to the list mate, and mabe firefox downthem all plugin which is nifty for dling pics like the nasa photo url ch3t posted a while back


I am a FH squatter
FH Subscriber
Dec 23, 2003
Have to agree with the list on SpySweeper though. It saved my bacon so many times when all my old favourites did nothing I even PAID FOR IT !!!1

First time I've paid for shareware-type stuff in my life :)



You might go looking for *** Superior piles remover cream***. I have been using it without problem since it came out.

*** I may have changed this bit - pimpers will be removed from the forums, thank you! - Jup.


Trem's hunky sex love muffin
Dec 20, 2003
Jonty said:
For future reference, please don't bump threads unless there is something to contribute. As you say, the search option is there for a reason! Thanks :)

Kind Regards

what he said, though I'm leaving out the kind regards myself.

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