Have you been trying to do something, but you don’t have the right software … and you don’t have the money to buy that commercial piece of software that will let you do it?  Well, there’s probably an open-source or freeware application that will help you do what you need or want to do without having to shell out some serious bucks.   Here’s few links and information about a number of very good software programs, most of which are absolutely FREE.

  • Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) —MSE is my favorite for any PC before Windows 8 (Win8 comes with it’s own version as part of the installation).  MSE provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. If you’re a PC novice, you might want to install this anti-viral protection program (you can only install one “definitions driven” anti-virus program … so you’d need to pick MSE or Avast … but you wouldn’t be able to install both). MSE is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.  No annual re-registration requirement.
  • Avast! Home Edition — Avast Home Edition is FREE for home/personal use. Works great. It’s not as invasive as Norton and McAfee and it doesn’t bog your PC down into nowhere land. Plus, it has a feature that lets you perform a boot-time scan before windows starts up (letting you delete any little uglies that might have set up residence in the system folder BEFORE windows start-up). Free for home/personal use; requires annual re-registration.
  • Windows Defender — Windows Defender is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Free if you’re using a genuine copy of MS Windows operating systems,  Win 2000is no longer supported.  And if you’ve installed Microsoft Security Essentials, it’s incorporated as part of that product, so there’s no need to install this one. [Freeware]
  • Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware — If your PC should get infected by something really ugly, this program can be quite useful in helping to eradicate the pest. The FREE version must be run manually by the PC user and does NOT provide 24/7 protection. If you want it to automatically run on it’s own, providing real-time protection, or scheduled scanning and updating operations, I recommend that you purchase the premium version.  It’s only $24.95 for 1 year for 3 PCs.  It’s well worth the nominal price.  It stops malware dead in it’s tracks so it can’t be downloaded and prevents you from even opening many an infected web page.
  • Glary Utilities — Glary Utilities is a powerful and top all-in-one utility to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. It optimizes the performance of your computer, solves problems, protect your privacy and helps you to customize your system to suit your needs. It can also scan and clean your PC, cleaning temporary files, removing junk files, fixing broken shortcuts, and resolving a wide range of issues, both major and minor, that most Windows users will have no trouble recognizing. You can configure its One-Click Maintenance option to run just those processes you want with a single click, making regular maintenance just too easy for excuses.  It comes in two versions, the FREE version and the PRO version (around $30 purchase; $~12 for annual renewal for up to 3 PCs).  Here again, the free version must be run manually by the user, whereas the PRO version actively works in the background reminding you, for example, when updates are available for the various software installed on your PC or performing automatic maintenance tasks.
  • Unchecky — Have you ever felt, while installing software, that the installer tries to push additional unwanted programs at all cost? Ever missed a checkbox, and spent hours afterwards removing adware? Ever opened your browser after an installation, only to find out that you have a new homepage, a new search engine, or even a new browser?  Unchecky aims to keep potentially unwanted programs out of your computer.
  • Belarc Advisor — Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server. Save a copy of the report as .mht file [an htm file with all of it’s resources included (graphics, etc.) as part of the file] so you have an spotlight archive file of what was installed on your PC at that moment in time. The “Software Licenses” section includes serial numbers and install keys for some (but unfortunately not all) software installed on your PC … a really nice feature if you’ve lost your install key. [Freeware]
  • Piriform Utilities
    • CCleaner — CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning 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. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! [Freeware]
    • Defraggler  Don’t like Windows defragmenter applet?  Use Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive, multiple connected drives, or individual files.  If you don’t want Defraggler to replace the standard Windows defragmenter applet, make sure you uncheck that box inthe install instructions
    • Recuva — Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost something important when your computer crashed? No problem! Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player. And it’s free! recuva
    • Speccy — Speccy is an advanced System Information tool for your PC. It was designed as a free electronic “what’s inside” sticker for your PC—specifically, detailed statistics on every piece of hardware in your computer. Including CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics Cards, Hard Disks, Optical Drives, Audio support. Additionally Speccy adds the temperatures of your different components, so you can easily see if there’s a problem.
  • doPDF — doPDF installs itself as a virtual PDF printer driver in your ‘Printers and Faxes’ list. To convert to any document to PDF, all you have to do is select doPDF as your “printer.” Open a document (with Microsoft Word, WordPad, NotePad or any other software), choose Print and select doPDF as the printer. It will ask you where to save the PDF file and when finished, the PDF file will be automatically opened in your default PDF viewer. This one doesn’t advertise itself on every copy it prints. Plus it can be used in both home and commercial situations.[Freeware]
  • EASEUS Disk Copy — EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware application that will allow you to create a sector by sector disk/partition clone, regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme. The sector to sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to original. EASEUS Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. [Freeware]
  • EASEUS Partition Master — The Home Edition allows you to extend a partition (especially for system drive), manage disk space easily, and resolve low disk space problems under Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 (Only for 32 bit). Free for home users. [Freeware] free-partition-manager
  • EASEUS ToDo Backup — Supporting Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008, is a FREE backup application that can be used for system backup and restore, hard disk or partition backup and restore, and disk cloning to protect your system and disk. It can back up your entire PC, including the operating system plus your data, applications, settings and everything! [Freeware] free-backup-software
  • Eraser — Eraser is an advanced security tool for Windows which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. Eraser is currently supported under Windows XP (with Service Pack 3), Windows Server 2003 (with Service Pack 2), Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It not only gives you seven different options for ‘erasing’ the contents of the recycle bin, it even lets you create a task for ‘erasing’ the unused space on your hard drive during your next restart. Eraser is free software and its source code is released under GNU General Public License. [Freeware]
  • Filezilla — FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface. This application has been written for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX platforms.  [Freeware] fz3_win_main
  • JZip — jZip is a powerful and reliable compression utility based on proven and reliable 7-Zip archiving technology by Igor Pavlov. jZip sports an elegant, easy to use yet powerful user interface which lets you create, open and extract Zip, TAR, GZip and 7-Zip. Open and extract from RAR and ISO. [Freeware]
  • Partition Wizard — Partition Wizard Home Edition is a free partition manager which allows you to perform operations like: resizing, copying and deleting partitions; formatting, converting, exploring and hiding partitions; changing drive letters; setting the active partition; and performing partition recovery. Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7 (32-bit & 64-bit) operating systems. PartitionWiz
  • Revo Uninstaller — Revo Uninstaller helps you to uninstall and remove unwanted programs installed on your computer even if you have problems uninstalling and cannot uninstall them from “Windows Add or Remove Programs” control panel applet. This piece of freeware is definitely worth installing! With its advanced and fast algorithm, Revo Uninstaller analyzes an application’s data before uninstall and scans after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over on your computer. [Freeware]
  • RoboformEverywhere — Use RoboForm Everywhere (a cloud based service with nominal annual renewal fees) if any of the following apply to you…
    • Would like to access your unlimited Logins, Identities, Bookmarks, and Safenotes on multiple desktops, laptops, tablets, USBs, or mobile devices without having to carry a USB drive around with all that information.
    • Would like to keep all of your passwords and other data in sync between all of your computers and mobile devices.
    • Want a secure automatic backup copy of all your RoboForm data.
    • Would enjoy the convenience of managing your RoboForm data from anywhere at any time.
    • Want free upgrades to the latest version of RoboForm at all times.

Personally, I use RoboformEverywhere.  I buy it once, and then I use it on my Desktop PC, my laptop when away from home and on my tablet if I don’t want to take my laptop.

  • Roboform2Go— If you have access on a device to a USB port, RoboForm2Go gives you the freedom and flexibility to carry all your passwords, contacts, and bookmarks, on a USB key for use on any computer – anywhere in the world. RoboForm2Go saves you time by facilitating automated logins to online accounts, and completing online registration and checkout forms with one click! Full price = $39.95, but watch for a special. The free version is fully functional, but it restricts the number passwords you can track.
    • Plug your USB flash drive with RoboForm2Go into any PC and log into any website, or fill any form, all with one click!
    • Remove your RoboForm2Go USB flash drive and no information will be left on the host PC.
  • Keepass — KeePass Professional is an alternative to Roboform and is a free, open source password manager (only on the one device it’s been installed), which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known. keepass
  • Secunia — The Secunia Online Software Inspector, or short OSI, is a fast way to do an online scan your PC for the most common programs and vulnerabilities, thus checking if your PC has a minimum security baseline against known patched vulnerabilities. You can perform an online scan, or you can download and run the PSI (Personal Security Inspector) at regular intervals to learn which programs and add-ons need a more up-to-date security patch (e.g., Adobe Reader, Java, QuickTime, Windows, Flash, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). It also gives you a link to the site from which you can download and apply the latest update. The PSI is free for personal use.

  • Audacity — Ever have the need to edit a piece of audio, or change it from a WAV file to say, an MP3 file?  Audacity® is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. [Open Source Freeware]
  • CDex — CDCDex can extract the data directly (digital) from an Audio CD, which is generally called a CD Ripper or a CDDA utility. The resulting audio file can be a plain WAV file (useful for making compilation audio CDs) or the ripped audio data can be compressed using an audio encoder. In addition, WAV files on the hard drive can be converted to a Compressed Audio File (and visa versa). CDex also supports many audio file tag formats like the ID3V1 and ID3V2 tags, which can be automatically inserted as part of the ripping process.   Don’t forget to set bitrate you want to use in the “Encoder” configuration screen (the default is 128).  You should also enter an email address on the Remote CDDB configuration screen if you want it to automatically go out to the online CD database and pull in the titles of each track on the CD you just loaded.  [Open Source Freeware]
    Screenshot 2014-05-28 16.23.39
    Screenshot 2014-05-28 16.27.51    Screenshot 2014-05-28 16.28.05
  • Freemake Video — This freeware application allows you to convert video files from one format to any of a large number of other formats (AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, FLV, SWF, 3GP, DVD, MPEG, MP3, iPod, iPhone, PSP, Android).  It allows you to convert your DVD movies to files that can be stored and played on your PC.  It’s also great for saving a copy of a YouTube video in any format (including converting video to MP3) just by copying the YouTube URL and then clicking the “Paste URL” button to bring it into Freemake. freemake-video-converter-screenshot
  • Freesizer — FreeSizer is an easy to use tool to quickly create resized copies of your pictures that can be sent by email or uploaded to the web. Simply drag and drop one or more photos into the list, select a resizing profile and click a button! No need to fiddle with height, width and compression settings – FreeSizer comes pre-configured for most popular uses. 32-bit and 64-bit installers are available as well as a portable 64-bit application that can be unzipped to a folder a placed on a USB thumb-drive for use on whatever PC you plug your thumb-drive into. freesizer_screen
  • Inkscape — Need a vector drawing program? Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X. (Download the Windows “Installer”)
    inkscape-0.48-blur_thumb    inkscape-0.48-ferrari_thumb
  • MP3 Tagger — MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) is a music-file format which can contain an ID3 tag. The ID3 tag has several cells you can set. These are the Songtitle, Artist, Album, Year, Genre, Comment and several more such as Composer, Original artist, Copyright, URL, Encoder type, etc. Media Tagger lets you modify any number of files at a time in an easy way. You may synchronize ID3v1 with ID3v2, name the file according to the tag or vice versa or format the letter capitalization in the file???s name. You can also create a WinAMP playlist (m3u, pls), create a file listing for Excel (csv) or Notepad (txt) or generate it as a HTML page, all this with just one click. [Freeware] media_tagger-62678-1
  • Paint.Net — Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. [Open Source] PaintDotNet
  • Wink — Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.
  • Apache Open Office or LibreOffice — OpenOffice and LibreOffice are comparable open-source office software suites for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages (e.g. MS-Office, Wordperfect). It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
    • Draw gives you the tools to communicate with graphics and diagrams. Manipulate objects, rotate in two or three dimensions; use sophisticated rendering to create photo-realistic images. Smart connectors make short work of flowcharts, organisation charts, network diagrams, etc. Styles – a common OpenOffice.org feature – help you control your work easily and precisely in Draw.
    • Writer has everything you would expect from a modern, fully equipped word processor or desktop publisher: powerful features like AutoCorrect, AutoComplete, AutoFormat, Styles and Formatting, Text Frames and Linking, Tables of Contents, Indexing, Bibliographical References, Illustrations, Tables, and other objects.
    • Calc is the spreadsheet you’ve always wanted. Newcomers find it intuitive and easy to learn; professional data miners and number crunchers will appreciate the comprehensive range of powerful features including Advanced DataPilot technology, Natural language formulas, an Intelligent Sum Button, a comprehensive range of advanced spreadsheet functions, Styles and Formatting, and a Scenario Manager for “what ifs”.
    • Impress is a truly outstanding tool for creating effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will stand out with 2D and 3D clip art, fontworks, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools. A multi-pane view puts all the tools at your fingertips, and you can ‘park’ your most commonly used drawing tools around your screen ready for single-click access. Share your work in many ways: not only pdf, but also html and Flash.
    • Base enables you to manipulate database data seamlessly within OpenOffice.org 3. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, either using your own database or Base’s own built-in HSQL database engine. Base offers a choice of using Wizards, Design Views, or SQL Views for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users.
  • FoxIt Reader — Foxit Reader is a free PDF document viewer.  The Installer will also install a PDF creator.  Foxit is incredibly small in size, has a breezing-fast launch speed and has a rich feature set. Foxit Reader supports Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8 for both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. (Loads much faster that Adobe’s PDF Reader.)
  • Scribus — Scribus is an open-source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows. Scribus supports professional features, such as CMYK color, spot color, separations, ICC color and robust commercial grade PDF. Scribus1
  • Open Project — OpenProject is a free, open source desktop alternative to Microsoft Project.
    OpenProject   OpenProject2
  • Ashampoo Burning Studio — This application is as good as Roxio in many cases. Multi-disc file backup and restore on CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs; create compressed backup archives with powerful password protection; split archives automatically across multiple CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs; restore archive contents to their original locations; integrated Audio CD ripper store your audio tracks as WMA or WAV files; new option for setting the number of copies you want to burn (available for all disc formats); discs can now be verified immediately without being ejected first (if the drive supports this feature); numerous other small improvements that make the program easier to use and more effective; burn files and folders on data CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray discs; burn Audio CDs from WAV, MP3, FLAC, WMA and Ogg Vorbis files; burn MP3-CDs from your MP3 files; burn Video DVD, Video CD (VCD) or Super Video CD (S-VCD); create and burn CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc images; burn speed and other options can all be set automatically. Please note, there is a free version as well as a paid version. ashampoo_burning_studio
  • Drop Box— Do you sometimes work on files from work at home? Do you need to back up some critical files? Do you need to share some files with another contact, friend or family member? Dropbox is the easiest way to store, backup, sync, and, share files online. Best of all, not only is DropBox free, but you get 2GB of server space for free.
  • LiberKey-Portable — Using Liberkey, you can install over 200 open source portable applications and utilities on your portable USB device which can be plugged in any computer and launched from the USB Key without having to install them on the PC you’re using. It’s free … and it works great. Click the link and check out all the applications and utilities (I set one up using the ultimate compilation … and then installed a few more apps that weren;t automatically included in that compilation).

Liberkey Liberkey2

  • Del.icio.us — Social Bookmarking service. Store all you bookmarks/favorites online, then logon and access them from any PC.(sign up for free)
  • Prezi — Prezi allows you to create slideshows in a super-easy way. You can slap in transitions, insert images, group and layer your various bits of information, and generally create this moving, almost cinematic kind of a display that’s quite a bit removed from the standard slide-after-slide Powerpoint route. Once you’re done, watch your presentation via the Web (or share it, or embed it in a blog, etc.).
  • Google Docs — Create and share your online documents, presentations and spreadsheets (sign up for free). Integrates with Google Mail, Google Calendar and Blogger.
  • PC Tools Password Generator — Create random passwords that are highly secure and extremely difficult to crack or guess due to an optional combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. (But … don’t forget to save it in KeePass … so you can get into that site the next time … because any passwords this application generates are going to be a bit difficult to remember off the top of your head.)

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