Last updated: October 2008
The Best Things...
They say that the best things in life are free, well I know for sure that the best things on the Internet are free!!
I have come across many great free applications on the Net, most of which are far superior to their commercial equivalents! All of the software below is completely FREE!! (mostly only for non-commercial use).
Here is a list of the best, categorised for easier viewing:
Audio / Video / Images
AudioGrabber - Rip CDs to MP3 - Quick, easy, FREE!!
K-Lite Mega Codec Pack - Can't play a video because you don't have the correct codec? Download this bad boy and all your troubles will be gone!!
Media Player Classic - Great media player for video.
Paint.Net - Free Adobe Photoshop clone. I haven't tested it, but it looks good and rates well! Another alternative is GIMP (also untested but rates well).
WavePad - Well featured audio editor.
WinAmp - Still one of the best audio players out there.
XNView - The best free image viewer and converter that I've found!
AM-DeadLink - If you're like me and have a million Internet favorites, this tool is very handy. It goes through and validates all your favorites, it can even update them!
BarracudaDrive - Brilliant little web server which gives you fast, easy & secure access to the files on your PC as well as providing an easy SSL connection!. Very handy!
Blat - VERY useful utility which allows you to send e-mails (including attachments) from the command line. Great for scripting!
DD-WRT - This is actually firmware, but it's so good I had to include it. Basically it replaces the firmware on your Internet router with a VERY high class alternative!!
eCleaner - Hate e-mails with a million >>s, broken linebreaks & generally in a big mess? ECleaner can clean e-mails with a single click!
ePrompter - Useful system tray e-mail notifier.
Firefox - The best browser out there! Fast, secure, infinitely customisable... nuff said!
Free Download Manager - Fully featured download manager and accelerator. I haven't tried it yet but it looks like a fully competitive free alternative to MassDownloader!
Hamachi - Simple, effective & secure VPN software. Makes it very easy to setup a private VPN between multiple computers.
Hotspot Shield - Intended to secure wireless connections but works just as well as a US proxy to make you appear as being connected in the States! Hellooo Pandora!!
Kiwi LogViewer - A home grown (in NZ) SysLog viewer which from my brief search seems to be one one of the best! A free SysLog Daemon is also available.
Miranda - Highly customisable IM client which heaps of plugins & great community support.
Naviscope - This one is getting pretty old now, but I have yet to find anything similar out there. It allows you to view view HTTP requests from your PC to find things
like the real links to streaming video files (although 'Orbit Downloader' is now better at this particular function) but may be useful for a similar requirements.
Orbit Downloader - Allows you to download streaming video and audio source files from many popular sources (YouTube, Google Video etc etc...).
Port Query - Another insanely useful command line util that I've been looking for for years. Allows you to 'ping' a TCP port to see if it's open. Again, useful for scripting.
QCheck - Great network testing utility. Tests response, throughput etc etc.
Skype - Free VOIP calling! If you haven't heard of this one before... welll I guess I've educated you! : )
SNMP Traffic Grapher - Simple, effective, provides a neat little SNMP traffic graph window & minimises to a mini graph in the system tray! <-- The best feature!
TeamViewer - Allows you to remote control any machine, anywhere, even behind the strictest firewalls, all the remote end needs is web access!
Thunderbird - Another excellent product from Mozilla - a brilliant e-mail client.
VNC - PC remote control at it's best!
ZoneAlarm - One of the better free firewalls out there. However I'm beginning to have issues with this one & I'm testing other free alternatives. I'll keep you posted!
1 Time Stopwatch - Times stuff... or does countdowns... useful for... timing stuff... or counting down...
Open Office - Does everything that Microsoft Office does, but is far more stable, uses less resources, and it's FREE!!!
Sunbird - Great alternative to Microsoft Outlook for calendar scheduling & task management. Also available as a plug-in for Thunderbird under the name of Lightning.
7-Zip - The most comprehensive compression archive support, including it's native '7-Zip' format which is yeilds highly impressive compression ratios for text fiiles!
AntiVir - Great antivirus product, right up there with AVG. An alternative if AVG is causing you trouble for some reason (it doesn't normally).
AutoIt - Universal macro / scripting tool. Allows you to compile macros into stand-alone .exes for use on any PC.
AVG - IMO the best free Anti-virus product available.
CDBurnerXP - Fully featured free CD/DVD burning program! Even has some features that the other commercial options don't!
ClockGen - Real-time overclocking from within Windows! Good chipset support. (One gotcha tho, if you change the processor speed without rebooting, the system
timer will run at the wrong speed and this can cause issues with applications which rely on it for timing events - eg; some games may run at the wrong speed)
CPU Burn-in - Tool to either heat up your CPU in order to check stability and cooling, or stress it to check that you haven't overclocked it a wee bit too much.
CPU-Z - Tells you everything you ever wanted to know about your CPU.
Crimson Editor - Compact, customisable code editor for any type of code.
ExtractNow - Right click an archive, select 'Extract Now', the archive is extracted and the original archive file deleted (customisable). Done. Easy, fast, neat.
Girder - This application is AWESOME!! It can do ANYTHING automatically!! Kind of like a scripting system, but simpler and more powerful. Works very well with remotes.
Note: www.girder.nl USED to be the site for the free version (latest is v3.29b), however this site has been replaced by the commercial (ie; non-free) version
site and almost all information and files relating to the free version have been removed!! This is a real pity because girder.nl was a really good resource for Girder
free and I am a bit disgusted that Promixis have purged everything related to it (with the exception of this forum archive). Sure they had to promote their
commercial version of Girder, but killing off the old free version is just being heavy handed! I'd buy the commercial version, but I think that US$50 is a bit steep
for what it is. The Girder link on the left here is a direct link to the free v3.29b version of Girder, however plugins and support relating to this version are is VERY
hard to find. A possible (untested by me) free alternative is IRAssistant, or the relatively cheap uICE.
GPU-Z - Tells you everything you ever wanted to know about your GPU (graphics / video card).
HP USB Disk Format Storage Tool - A bit of a mouthful, but it's the ONLY way that I know of to make a USB flash drive bootable without using a bootable floppy disk or a
hard drive booting to DOS!! This link is to a forum posting with the files you'll need to get this to work and some detailed instructions.
LockNote - Nifty little app which is basically a self-contained single .exe file encrypted notepad. Useful for securely storing passwords etc.
nLite - Allows you to create highly customised Windows install CDs. You can add drivers, patches and change about a zillion options for the installation or customisation of
your Windows install. Basically what this all means is that when you re-install Windows on your machine, you end up with a pretty much fully customised install out
of the box... Big time saver that one!
PhotoRec - Another example of free software that completely outclasses most of the commercial alternatives. The name PhotoRec is slightly outdated now, it started
out life as a deleted photo recovery tool for camera cards, but has now been extended to cover many different file types. If you have lost files due to
deletion, file corruption or even the complete wiping of your hard drive, this is the tool to use. I have personally seen it beat a $13,000 forensic data
recovery package (400 files for the $13k tool, 4000 photos for PhotoRec!!).
RivaTuner - Allows you to both overclock and monitor your graphics card (temperature, fan speed etc). Very useful for overclocking addicts such as myself! : )
SysInternals - These guys have THE MOST INSANELY USEFUL system utilities in the UNIVERSE!! If you want to see what your system is doing at a low level in real time,
then these tools are for you! Indispensable for troubleshooting!! In particular Process Monitor, Process Explorer, TCPView, AutoRuns, ShellRunAs & PSTools
are HIGHLY recommended!
System Information for Windows - Gives you any and all kinds of information about your computer. Very comprehensive and a single .exe file, no installation required!!
One of the best features of SIFW is that it queries hardware directly, so it is handy to help you to idenfiy unknown hardware in a PC.
TreeSize - If you don't have Directory Opus then this is a good free tool to help you to find out where all your hard drive space has gone to!
Ubuntu - Sick of Windows? Don't want to pay for a Mac? Try Ubuntu - Linux for Dummies! : ) I have virtually no Linux experience, but I found Ubuntu easy easy EASY
to install and use. It's a fully viable Windows replacement and comes with everything you could ever want in a computing system, right out of the box. If you
do happen to want more, it's as easy as a couple of mouse clicks away! Ubuntu would suit most computer users, including Mum and Grandma!!
Undelete Plus - Oops!! I actually wanted that file that I just deleted!! Oh well, run up 'Undelete Plus' & recover it! Simple to use and effective. Useful to have on hand!
Note: This is now being listed as 'Free for a Limited Time', normally US$29.95... so get it for free while you can!!
VMWare Server - Ever wanted to run a second Operating System (like Ubuntu perhaps?) but didn't want to mess around with your existing OS? Try VMWare! This
virtualisation platform once cost thousands of dollars, but is now available free (& with good support)! It's very easy to setup and operate, rock solid and
EXTREMELY useful! I HIGHLY recommend it!!