Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs

I recently clean installed Windows XP on my laptop, and this meant that I had to re-install all the essential software that I use. It also presented an opportunity to write a posting about how you can outfit your computer with all the essential (and non-essential) software you need using strictly 100% freeware and/or open source titles.This posting could have been titled any of the following:

  • How to never use a paid program again (aside from Windows).
  • 53 essential freeware programs that can take care of the majority of your computing needs.

I am writing this from the perspective of myself clean-installing Windows and re-installing all the software I find to be essential afterwards. This post took a long time to write, please Digg and/or Stumble it ;).

Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs

Pre-installation: before reformatting my hard drive, I used the following programs:

Gparted screenshot1. Gparted Live CD: one of the easiest ways to preserve your data when you want to wipe your system clean is to create a secondary partition and move all of your data into it. Gparted Live CD is a fantastic program that can create and manage partitions and hold its own alongside any program of its kind, paid or otherwise.

Unstoppable Copier Screenshot2. Unstoppable Copier: I used this program to copy any of the data and files on the primary partition (C:) to the secondary partition. Unstoppable copier makes the process of moving large numbers of files easy because you can set it up and leave and be certain that the copying process will not be interrupted by pointless Windows dialogs such as “are you sure you want to move the read only file xxx” or any other possible prompts of this sort.

Amic Email Backup Screenshot3. Amic Email Backup: can backup all of my Outlook email to the secondary partition ahead of the drive formatting (it can backup email from numerous programs except Thunderbird; if you use Thunderbird use Mozbackup). For another freeware alternative try EZ Email Backup.

drivermax4. DriverMax: I used this one to back up all my current drivers. DriverMax will backup all of your drivers locally and can optionally restore them for you. Although I have my manufacturer’s CD with all of the original drivers (and anyway they are all on the internet), I used DriveMax just in case; if it were the case that I am unable to locate a driver for any device after re-installing XP, I figure I could always go back to the drivers backup that I made with DriverMax and find it.

Produkey Screenshot5. Produkey: used this program to keep a record of all the product keys for the Microsoft products that are on my system, including Windows XP and Office. Made a printout of this info and saved it on the secondary partition for later use. I found that unlike some other similar programs, this one doesn’t make antivirus/antispyware programs act up and react adversely to it.

Installation: re-installed Windows XP on the re-formatted primary partition. Used the CD that came with my laptop to install all the proper drivers without hitch. If you have drivers issues try to find the drivers you need on the internet and, if not 100% successful, use the ones from the DriverMax backup (#4 above). Once Windows was installed I did a Windows update (actually several, since it kept doing partial updates and restarting), then installed the Microsoft .NET framework and the latest Java RTE).

Post installation: now the fun begins.

PC Decrapifier Screenshot6. PC Decrapifier: if you install Windows from a CD image disk provided with your computer then it is highly likely that it comes pre-loaded with all manner of junk software that the computer maker wants to foist on you. PC Decrapifier will batch-uninstall many of these for you; be careful, however, to check the list so as not to uninstall something you might want something you actually want.

Driveimage XML Screenshot7. DriveImage XML: used this program to create an image of my freshly clean installed hard drive. (A hard drive image is a backup of the drive as-is with everything in it; performing such a backup means that I can quickly revert to my clean install of Windows in the future simply by restoring the image). There’s a number of reasons why I like this program (a) it can split the image file into several files, allowing you to save an image that is larger than 4 gigs onto a hard drive that uses the FAT filesystem rather than NTFS; it features ’Volume Locking’ which contributes towards ensuring that your created images are error free, and it is featured on boot CDs such as BartCD, which means I can boot into it and restore the primary partition.

Launchy Screenshot8. Launchy: everybody needs a good launcher, and Launchy is my favorite. Pressing a hotkey will prompt a dialog to appear whereby you can type in the first few letters of the name of the program that you want in order to launch it. Launchy will index your start menu and program files folders by default so that it will know all the programs available on your computer (you can define other folders for it to index as well). If you would like alternatives to this one checkout Key Launch and the very powerful Keybreeze.

AVG Screenshot9. AVG Antivirus: the reason this is the my free antivirus of choice is (a) it is very light on the system’s resources, (b) it does a simply excellent job,and (c) it supports email scan, which is something that I need (and which is why I use AVG rather than the excellent AntiVir). Secondary choice: Antivir. Third choice: Avast.

SpywareTerminator Screenshot10. Spyware Terminator: provides very good real-time protection against spyware/malware. For system scans it also integrates the open source ClamAV virus killer, which it also auto updates. Overall this program provides a very good free antispyware solution. Note that it will attempt to install a “Web Security Guard” toolbar in the setup which I typically disable (I do not like toolbars installed in my browser thank you very much).

Comodo Firewall Screenshot11. Comodo Firewall: this is not only an excellent free firewall, this program is a PC Magazine Editor’s choice and is possibly the best personal firewall out there, free or paid. According to Matousec.com’s latest firewall ratings, Comodo gets the highest overall firewall score as well as the highest anti-leak protection (these results as of the date of this writing Oct 20, 2007). (Thanks go to reader DevZero for mentioning this in the comments section of my Comodo Firewall review).

Tweakui Screenshot12. TweakUI: this powerful Windows tweaking tool from Microsoft is one of the best out there, IMHO. In general I do not like to have any of my data stored in the primary (C:) partition, and I use this program to switch many of Windows’ special folders (i.e. My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, My Favorites, and the Desktop itself) from their default locations to a new location on the secondary partition. Having no data on the primary partition means that I can create images of my hard drive with DriveImage XML (#7 above) and restore them at will at any point without having to worry about lost data. Later I will also change the default data storage locations for all programs that I use so that they are on the secondary partition as well. More interesting tweaks that TweakUI does that I should mention: customizing the placesbar in the windows open/save dialog and increasing the number of folder customizations that Windows would remember.

OpenOffice Writer Screenshot13. OpenOffice: a world class office productivity suite and Microsoft Office replacement. OpenOffice can read and write MS Office 2003 documents in DOC (Word 2003) ,PPT (Powerpoint 2003) and XLS (Excel 2003) formats, and can also output documents in PDF format. Note that some MS Office documents that employ VBA Macro scripts may not be fully compatible with OpenOffice. (Ok, I have a confession to make: I actually install MS Office 2003 and 2007 both on my machine rather than OpenOffice, because (a) I need to use Outlook for work, (b) because most of my Excel work is done with VBA script, and (c) the licenses are paid for by my work). For the average user and for the purposes of this article, however, OpenOffice would be my free productivity suite of choice.

Forcevision Screenshot14. Forcevision Image Viewer: this is a very competent and straightforward free image viewer. Image viewing programs tend to be either (a) simple lightweight programs with few features but get the basic job done, (b) mid-level image viewers that have a good range of image editing options and features, some of which can do image format conversions (c) larger programs that have a comprehensive set of features and are typically extendible by plugins, and typically include the ability to read/write all manner of image formats including obscure ones. And although I know many people swear by Irfranview and Xnview, which would belong to category (c) in this case, for myself I prefer a mid-level program that I find can handle 99% of my image viewing needs, and Forcevision is the one I use. (Another good alternative: Faststone Image Viewer).

Jzip Screenshot15. JZip: my current compression/zip utility of choice. Based on the 7 Zip open source archiver, JZip Can handle a good number of formats, has excellent compression ratio and speed as well as context menu integration. Other options that are good in this category are TugZip, IZArc, and ALzip (this last one might come as a surprise to some readers, but I actually used the new beta version for a few months and liked it).

CDBurnerXP Screenshot16. CDBurnerXP 4: is the free program I use to burn CDs and DVDs; it is a full featured CD/DVD burning program that can burn audio CDs, copy CDs/DVDs, burn/convert ISOs images, and handle a large variety of formats (including Double layer DVDs, Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs). My second program of choice would be InfraRecorder, which provides most of these functions as well.

JkDefragGUI Screenshot17. JKDefrag GUI: this is the graphical user interface for JKDefrag a hard disk defragmentation program. There are 3 reasons why you should use this program (a) JKDefrag has recently been tested and found to be the best amongst x different defragmentation programs, free and paid, (b) it provides the option to install itself as a screen saver, which will kick-off the defragmentation process whenever your computer is idle and goes into screensaver mode, and (c) it is fast and delivers excellent performance (see this blog for an interesting comparison of free and commercial defraggers, where JKDefrag was deemed the best freeware defrag program)..

FolderSize Screenshot18. Folder Size: this free Windows Explorer extension provides a “Folder Size” column in Windows explorer’s ’Detail’ view that shows the size of both files and folders (Windows shows the size of files but not that of folders). My second choice for a for a free program that does this would be “Aurionix FileUsage“; the latter offers more columns but requires .NET and therefore much more resources than Folder Size does.

Pidgin Screenshot19. Pidgin: a fantastic IM client that supports multiple messaging protocols including AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, XMPP, ICQ, IRC, SILC, SIP/SIMPLE, Novell GroupWise, Lotus Sametime, Bonjour, Zephyr, MySpaceIM, Gadu-Gadu, and QQ. It enables you to access all of your instant messaging accounts for the above networks simultaneously in the same client. You can use it to communicate individually with other people or to create chat rooms where multiple people interact simultaneously. Pidgin has been improved continuously and it is my favorite IM client (they finally implemented minimizing to tray which was inexplicably lacking forever). My second choice in this category: Miranda IM, which also has matured greatly, or try Meebo, which performs this function but is a web service that you can use from anywhere rather than a program that you install locally.

Google Toolbar Screenshot20. Google Toolbar: this is the only toolbar that I install. Google Toolbar provides a quick searchbox your browser’s toolbar, but it also provides the ability to fill simple forms, quickly translate pages, and spell check your text that you enter in internet forms. See this posting for a description of how to do that.

CCleaner Screenshot21. CCleaner: a fantastic hard drive cleaner that can rid your system of temp files, internet traces such as your surfing history, cookies, logfiles, cached files and other unused files from your computer. Installer comes with Yahoo toolbar included, so be careful to uncheck that during the installation process so it doesn’t install on your computer. Also includes a registry cleaner.

Shock Sticker Screenshot22. Shock Sticker: a really nice desktop ’sticky notes’ program that provides rich text editing and minimizing notes to floating icon (which is why I like it). This is my favortie desktop notes program, although Stickies, another similar program, is also extremely good and has more features.

Folderico Screenshot23. FolderICO: I really like to differentiate my folders with different colors and/or icons. FolderICO installs an entry into the Windows context menu that does this, but it also saves the changed icons within the folders such that the changed icon is preserved if, say, the folder is accessed on a network from another computer from a different operating system (or after a Windows re-install).

BeCyIconGrabber Screenshot24. BeCyIconGrabber: if you work with icons you will love this one. It enables you not just to extract icon resources from files, but to do the opposite (save individual icons into libraries) which most like-programs do not. Very cool.

ALPass Screenshot25. Alpass: an excellent password manager (for Internet Explorer only) that can store, encrypt, and fill in passwords and logins into forms for you. For another excellent program that performs a similar function check out Keepass.

Picasa Screenshot26. Picasa: an excellent program from Google that can help manage your picture libraries as well as share/upload them online. Provides many picture enhancement functions, and is also a very nice viewer to boot.

Faststone Image Capture Screenshot27. Faststone Capture: a really powerful image capture program that is extremely easy to use and has a built in editor for adding annotations and image manipulations. Unfortunately this program has recently become shareware but you can still download and use the last freeware version (5.3). Check out Screenshot Captor for another excellent screenshot capture program. If you know another excellent screenshot capture program please mention it in the comments (I’d like to try something new).

GOM Player Screenshot28. GOM Media Player: a fantastic player that plays DVDs as well as video formats, including Real Media, Quicktime, DivX, Xvid and FLV. Whats is really nice about this program is that it is self-contained and uses all internal codecs (meaning that in most cases it will not install codecs on your system). If, however, it encounters a video file that it cannot play it will automatically download it for you.

I chose this one over my other favorite, VLC media player, because it handles FLV videos better (allows you to jump to the middle of an FLV video, which the current version of VLC does not). It also has a nicer look and feel, IMHO, esp. when playing DVDs.

Also check out CodecInstaller, an excellent program that can identify, download, and install the codecs needed to play any media file (regardless of the player you are using)

QMP Screenshot29. Quintessential Media Player: supports most audio formats. It is simultaneously (a) a very nice player, (b) a competent tag editor, (c) a CD ripper with CDDB database support, and (d) and audio formats converter. Also features an equalizer, visualizations, and skins and is extendable through plugins. One of the nicer abilities is autotagging, which it does through digital thumbprinting and CDDB. (Note: album art is supported through a plugin, or use the cool CD Art Display).

Mediamonkey is another excellent program that also provides CD ripping, mp3 tag management, downloading of album art, audio format conversion, visualizations, skins, and equalizer, etc. Mediamonkey is vastly extendible though plugins and has a large community following.

MP3tag Screenshot30. MP3Tag: a fantastic MP3 tag/metadata manager that can download album art from Amazon and save it into the audio file itself. I’ve used a number of similar programs but like this one most because of it’s straightforward interface and user experience. Try The Godfather for another free alternative (note that the audio players mentioned in #29 above also provide MP3 tag management, which might be sufficient for most people’s needs).

Musicbrainz Picard Screenshot31. MusicBrainz Picard: use this program if your audio files have incomplete and or missing tags. Picard uses sophisticated digital fingerprinting to compare audio files to the community-created MusicBrainz database. It employs a different technology than Quintessential Media Player (#29 above) and can in the most cases auto-tag audio files that have no tags whatever.

Exact Audio Copy Screenshot32. Exact Audio Copy: an audio CD ripper that reads audio CDs “almost perfectly” (i.e. produces very high quality MP3s), connects to CDDB/Freedb to get track information, and supports a handful of audio file formats. Another favorite of mine that does the same thing is BonkEnc. (Note that the audio players mentioned in #29 above also provide competent audio CD ripping). If you are looking for an excellent audio file converter try Any Audio Converter which supports most audio formats as well as FLV and can demux audio from video files.

MP3gain Screenshot33. MP3gain: this program can analyze a group of MP3s and determine the average volume for each, and then raise and/or lower the volume of the files in order to “normalize” them (such that volume differences that might occur when one song transitions to another largely disappear). The cool thing is that it does this without re-encoding the files and its intervention is reversible. Another program that has this same function: MP3Trim.

Unlocker Screenshot34. Unlocker: this small memory resident program will pop-up whenever you encounter a file that is locked by a process or another program which prevents you from deleting or moving it. Once you install and use this you will start to consider it a must have program. (Also see this related post).

Orbit Downloader Screenshot35. Orbit Downloader: is an excellent download manager that has the unique ability to download streaming media (audio and video, as well as flash SWF) from video sharing and other sites. Another excellent download manager: FlashGet.

Winscp Screenshot36. WinSCP: if you need an FTP client WinSCP is an excellent program that supports FTP and SFTP (as well as the legacy SCP), allows for secure transfers, and features dual pane file-manager like functionalities (such as sorting and comparing directories). It also allows for session saving (i.e. a bookmarking functionality), with the option to create entries in the Windows’ send-to menu for uploading files straight from Windows.

FileZilla is another competent, free program that is constantly improving and supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS. If you want a very nice program that integrates FTP support into explorer through the Windows’ right-click context menu check out RightLoad.

Local Website Archive Screenshot37. Local Website Archive: is a program that saves individual webpages locally on your hard drive, including pictures and formatting, and allows for later viewing even if offline. What’s cool about this one is that it saves websites in the original HTML format and therefore allows you to reference the local URL of the saved webpage in your notes program or other applications. Another alternative that I used for a long time until I found Local Website Archive: Evernote.

Flashnote Screenshot38. Flashnote: a quick and handy scratch-pad that pops-up when you press a hotkey and disappears back into the background again when you minimize it (or press the hotkey again). You can store multiple notes in it and quickly retrieve them when needed (its not a full-fledged notes program, but nonetheless has become a must install on my machine).

Revo Uninstaller Screenshot39. Revo Uninstaller: my uninstaller of choice, Revo Uninstaller will uninstall a program and then look for any files and/or registry entries that were left behind by the program’s uninstaller (and does a beautiful job at that). Be carful to look at the entries that it identifies for deletion post-uninstall, as it will sometimes list registry entries and/or files that should not be removed. Revo also provides a slew of other tools such as a startup manager and hard drive cleaner.

Another nice uninstaller which I used previously is ZSoft Uninstaller; this one will not uninstall programs as thoroughly as Revo does, but on the other hand will not erroneously remove registry entries or files that should be left alone.

BitTyrant Screenshot40. BitTyrant: this is the free torrent client that I’ve been using for some time. What it is is a modified version of Azureus that, controversially, picks and chooses peers to allocate bandwidth to such that those who are providing more bandwidth for downloaded files receive more of your own bandwidth (which is why it is sometimes called the ’selfish’ bittorent client). It is claimed that this can result in up to 70% faster downloads, but the reason this is controversial is that peers with lower connection speeds or are not sharing files may be overlooked by this program (read more about it here). Other excellent free torrent clients: uTorrent, Azureus.

Starter Screenshot41. Starter: a small, no-install program which does a fantastic job managing the programs that start with Windows. (I’ve tried many, and this is the one I like the most). Note that Revo Uninstaller (#39 above) provides a built in startup programs manager as well.

Send to Toys Screenshot42. Send To Toys: use this program to add any folder to the explorer “send to” menu, which allows you to quickly copy or move any file to your favorite or most used folders.

Returnil Screenshot43. Returnil: a system virtualization program that allows you to surf dangerous sites and/or install and test software or implement any desired changes then restart your system to get it back to the state it was before said changes.

SysTrayMeter Screenshot44. SysTrayMeter: a small program that shows your processor usage and free memory in the system tray. Invaluable if you like to keep an eye on your available resources, and very useful in troubleshooting a problematic or slow system.

Sweepram Screenshot45. SweepRAM: a tiny, no-install RAM optimizer that frees system RAM by allowing applications all the RAM that they need, but no more (i.e. does not deprive programs from RAM). Use it to free RAM whenever your available memory plummets and/or your system becomes sluggish.

VSO Image Resizer Screenshot46. VSO Image Resizer: installs an entry in the Windows right-click context menu that enables image resizing and format conversions on-the-fly. One of the nicer things about this software is the ability to create custom image profiles that you can save in order to access them quickly at any later point. Another program which I also used for a long time: Easy Thumbnails.

Photoscape Screenshot47. Photoscape: is an all-in-one image management and manipulation suite that includes an image editor, a screen capture program, image formats conversions, an image viewer, GIF animation editor, mass image renamer, page creator, as well as a handful of other functions. While it does most of these functions competently, what I like about this program is its ability to combine and/or overlay images and easily add annotations. If you have to use a lot of images in presentations (as I do for work) you will find this program a great help.

PDF-XChange Viewer Screenshot48. PDF-XChange Viewer: a very nice PDF reader that allows for form filling as well as annotation and adding notes. The only thing I would change about this program is the icon it displays for PDF files (but that can be done with a program like Icon Phile).

PrimoPDF Screenshot49. Primo PDF: a virtual printer that can create PDF files out of any printable document. If you’re interested in printing to image formats as well try PDFCreator. Another alternative: DoPDF.

HOBComment Screenshot50. HobComment: this will add a “file/folder comments” in Windows details view, and a right-click “add comment” extension in Windows explorer (the latter only for NTFS partitions). The end result is a very easy way to add comments to files and folders that can be displayed in the Windows details view.

I.Mage Acreenshot51. I.Mage: I use this image editing program as a replacement to Windows’ “Paint” program; it’s simple and straightforward and sufficient for my occasional image manipulation needs. If you need a more powerful Photoshop-replacement freeware bitmap editor try Gimpshop or Paint.net (both excellent programs).

Flashfolder Screenshot52. Flashfolder: an explorer extension that adds user-defined favorites folders (and recent folders) to Windows’ open/save dialogs. A favorite of mine that I always have on my machine.

JOCR Screenshot53. JOCR: can snap any area of the screen (or simply load an image) and provide instant (and excellent) optical character recognition. This one might be a little out of place for an article that advocates using only free software because it needs a library installed with MS Office, whereas I list OpenOffice (#13 above) as the MS Office alternative. Still, I use this program a lot and find it to be a must-install, which is why I decided to list it.

Create Disk Image: now that I have my system decked out with all the software that I use, I create another image with DriveImage XML so that I have 2 images; one that contains Windows XP clean installed with drivers, and one with all the software that I use. Should I need to for any reason I can quickly and easily revet back to any one of these setups.


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • Fred Thompson

    Here’s a few more off the top of my head:

    Attribute Changer, Audacity, Autoruns, BTRWiz, Copernic Agent, Copernic Desktop Search, Filehamster, Gadwin PrintScreen, JAlbum, Komposer,Movica, MyUninstaller, PageDefrag, RazorLAME, Spybot Search & Destroy, SpywareBlaster, THERename, Wax

  • http://qureyoon.blogspot.com/ qureyoon
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  • Samer

    Thanks Querymoon!

  • http://www.myboxpro.com izzy69rocks

    Hi there, just bounce on your interesting article via reddit. I’ve tried a few of them, maybe ths an itch in me to try more.
    Great article , keep it up.

  • Jared

    What about FireFox?

  • joevannee

    Tray Apps i cannot live without:

    Process Explorer from Sysinternals (Now MS)
    > Task Manager substitute a lot more powerful
    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/Utilities/ProcessExplorer.mspx
    NetMeter from mMetal MAchine http://www.metal-machine.de/readerror/index.php?PHPSESSID=d28a0a3faf0a256097b5aa331ebfa981&action=tpmod;dl=get14
    > Network Bandwidth meter, great to read real download and upload speed.

    Others i feel like you forgot:

    Firefox, with more and more Web 2.0 apps out there i couldn’t live without a browser i can set up as i like. Favourites extensions:
    Adblock, Customizegoogle, download statusbar, FEBE, SiteAdvisor, TabMix Plus
    Check out Prism from Mozilla to integrate web apps on the desktop.(still in LAB)

    SIW: System information for Windows, a standalone program to make a full inventory of your HW:
    http://www.gtopala.com/

    These are some of my favourites, sure there are more….

  • http://nogg3r5.com Nogg3r5

    What about Ubuntu?? That has some of this software installed already, uses gparted during instalation to manage teh partitions and wont cost anything. Also, its good, more ethical and doesnt require you to sign away ure life with an EULA

  • http://nogg3r5.com Nogg3r5

    on an aside, FileHippo.com have that updater for windows which would be a great addition to ure list

  • Gin

    Both BitTorrent and uTorrent have sold out to the **AAs. I ran them with PeerGuardian2 to test the rumors about them selling out and I was flooded with hits from various ant-p2p outfits like Media Defender. Please, please do not use either of these two torrent programs; they are not safe.

  • http://www.appaholic.co.uk Relequestual

    That sure is some list.
    Brings my attention to a few I havent seen before or forgot about. Nice.
    thanks FWG

  • Samer

    Gin,
    Two things:
    1) Which freeware bittorrent client would you recommend, and
    2) Would you care to write about your experience evaluating torrent clients and running them with PeerGuardian2 on Freewaregenius? I’m sure it would make a great (not to mention informative) article.

  • ryan

    Congrats! It looks like you have done your homework or plugging your own coded software. Regardless, it’s one of the most thorough freeware lists I’ve seen to date.

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  • jeff

    Thanks for the list! I’d have to say that’s the most comprehensive one I’ve seen in a while. And I’m looking at an XP reinstall here coming up soon.

    One question – what is you desktop wallpaper that I see in some of the screenshots?

  • http://environmentalnightmares.blogspot.com igmuska

    Excellent suggestions for XP knuts like me…Loathing VISTA doesn’t even describe my feelings I have for it.
    Sadly my XP box’s hard drive died but now I see that it is worth my time and expense to rebuild my box with awesomely cheap prices for a relatively excellent P4 3GHz board with PCIe graphics.
    I dug this and will spread you around

  • Rod

    what about custom emoticons on various IMs? what would you recommend?

    Thanks

  • jazran

    all freewares are free here except Windows.

  • salkis

    dear freewaregenius,

    this is one of the best freeware posts that i have read in while. Most of the applications i use. I suggest:
    1. slickrun
    2. seo note – it takes notes further with a tab AND tree structure
    3. firefox – of course
    4. handbrake – for converting videos – to IPOD etc
    5. letmetype – for autocompleting text
    6. auto hotkey with text substituting wikipedia list of commonly misspelt words (you can also add text) http://lifehacker.com/software/spell-check/download-of-the-day-universal-autocorrect-192506.php
    7. freecommander – explorer alternative
    8. winpatrol – to disable or to delay startup
    9. dvdfab HD Decrypter, dvd decrypter – to copy dvds to HD
    10. K-lite codec pack – with Media Player Classic
    11. virtual dimension – for multiple desktops
    12. true crypt for encryption

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  • Dirk 2112

    Wow! Really great! Thank you for the list.
    I’ll get a new notebook next week and I can’t wait to install some of those programs.

  • Andrew Min

    The first thing you should install is InstallPad (http://www.installpad.com/). Then you can use it to install the rest.

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  • J S

    Go to http://www.distrowatch.com and get a live CD of Kubuntu, Xubuntu, simplymepis, or pclinuxos, or damnsmall linux and boot the live CD.

    Many of these programs are already in or from the Linux world (open office, firefox, pidgin).

    You just need to take that last part of the bandage off – do it quick and suddenly you’re three years away from your last Windows OS. Or MacOS.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Gin:

    Give definite proof that uT phones home, or leave the recommendation be. Many people have accused the client of malicious behavior, but no one has stepped up with any real proof. Even tracker administrators that had initially banned the client because of the supposed security/privacy issues it had were forced to retract their decisions because they saw with their own eyes that their decisions were mistaken.

    http://torrenthelp.depthstrike.com/2007/07/utorrent-171-and-all-claims-about.html
    Considering the fact that uT is at least the second-most popular BitTorrent client, everyone is obviously keeping their eye on it. If anyone had real proof, then quite simply, everyone would know about it.

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  • http://www.rgdot.com RG

    This post belongs to a hall of fame or something, excellent job.

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  • Deemonie

    Well done; excellent compilation.
    To echo some of the other comments:
    Firefox, for web browsing.
    And I would also add:
    KatMouse, for scrolling any window below the mouse-cursor (not just the one with keyboard-focus) and
    Volumouse, for changing the volume with the scroll-wheel hotkey.

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  • Josh

    Like all others, I coincide in that it is an excellent selection of freewares, for a fresh reinstall of Windows. In the end however, everyone must decide his own selection.

    Someting very needed, would be a similar article, about how to build a complete freeware security suite, covering different aspects of computer security, with programs that do not overlap too many functions.

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  • jas

    it’s kinda stupid to make a new partition just to copy files over. why not burn to a dvd or install winxp with ‘keep file system intact’ ?

    carbon copy list of freeware apps from other sites, with a few crappy ones thrown in.

  • http://www.nosaintshistory.com Phil from Loreauville

    Wow!
    Great article! It’s this kind of site I point people to when I’m trying to tell them that they don’t need to spend $50 a pop on decent computer appz.

  • http://www.MechGame.co.nr FlyingIsFun1217

    Wow.

    I use linux. Don’t even have to pay for windows!

    FlyingIsFun1217

  • Jeena

    Excellent. But why googletoolbar instead of Firefox? I stress, the lack of Firefox in your so complete list is really astonishing.

  • step

    Comodo Firewall… mousetec’s “Leak test” is not as comprehensive or useful as you would think.

    It equates to annoying pop-ups (fine for a poweruser)it just teaches your average user to accept all warnings, since if they don’t the system won’t even work.

    It also presumes that your machine is already infected, which is too late.

    I believe it’s a good firewall, but I would recommend against relying on the “leak test” as a fair measure, and I wouldn’t recommend such a “pop up happy” firewall to a novice (or even competent) user.

  • mindem

    Blender 2.45 – free, open-source 3d modeling, animation, and compositing suite.

    http://www.blender.org

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  • Ken Adams

    I very much like this review, and I think this will help so many people immensely.

    Thank you for your reviews.

  • Jason

    Why not just download Ubuntu? It COMES with many, many open source programs. Also, it has repositories to keep these programs up to date automatically. One last thing: No need for extensive spyware/malware/anti-virus programs! Linux does not have viruses!!!

  • http://annelykengarner.blogspot.com/ Anne Lyken-Garner

    This is really good, but for someone like me who is a bit of a technophobe, I’d still have to get someone to install them for me.

    Good article!

  • http://www.smileycat.com Christian Watson

    Excellent post – thanks so much for sharing! Some great picks in there. I would also include Notepad for a text editor.

  • http://www.freewaremarks.com Ron Taylor

    I’ve found an interesting concept at http://www.freewaremarks.com

  • http://www.zturk.com/ Žiga Turk

    How come the Total Commander is missing. It is the swiss army knife, providing so many functions!

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  • carambar666

    great post . I would add too a CD/DVD discs emulator like Daemon tools and Unlocker to force the deletion of a file locked by windows

  • http://www.zipeg.com Leo Kuznetsov

    Zipeg is not as sophisticated as jZip or 7zip but build on the same engine.
    It has RAR 3.7.8 plugin that allows it to unpack RAR archives with encrypted filenames (to my knowledge latest version of jZip still fails on them).

    Otherwise it is much simpler and also free.
    http://www.zipeg.com

    It is helpful in browsing photo-archives and icon archives.
    Supports national code-page encoding in filenames.

    Also works on Macintosh.

    Any criticism is appreciated.

  • Samer

    Leo; I like Zipeg alot. Will review soon.

  • Anonymous

    This is the best software review site have ever seen. No other even comes close. IMO. I am particularly impressed with the detailed descriptions of these programs. These aren’t just copied and pasted descriptions – they are extremely well written by someone who has actually used the software. I have heard of some of these programs before, but have never tried them because the software authors’ descriptions are usually poorly written… they tend to speak to people who already use and understand the software. They’re far too close to their programs to write effective descriptions like the ones contained in these pages (plus they just tend to be poor writers in general). Reading this site enables me to know precisely what these programs do and how they work in the real world. So I’m finding that I’m downloading a ton.

    The author of this site should work as a technical writer… I wish companies like Asus would hire people like this to write their motherboard manuals. Thank you! This is extremely well done!

  • http://blog.bluefrogx.com bLuefrogx

    Nice, except I’d replace these items

    28. KMplayer -> this plays just about everything and is extremely skinnable.
    40. Deluge -> One of the most actively developed torrent clients around, with the much vaunted ability to bypass ISP traffic shaping.

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  • Jon

    Or you could just use Ubuntu, with it’s smooth looks and col desktop effects, not to mention all the free open source software at just a couple of clicks away, with synaptic.

  • http://- sachin ambhore

    check for:-
    FDM Free download manager
    Glar utility
    Double desktop
    Fresh Diagnose
    HDtune
    Netmeter
    Date cracker2000
    Xcalday
    VTP Vista transformation pack
    Electronic piano 2.5
    Incontrol
    Pc Wizard 2008

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  • Bosko

    You totally forget about File managers. I recommend FreeCommander 2007! It’s a must have freeware program!

  • hondasher

    Echo the comments about how very well written this is. Covers the “What”, the “How” and the “Why” most readers crave when learning about software. I’d like to add a favourite of mine, similar to seonote, called “Keynote” which is a tab & tree pane note gathering app. A bit daunting at first but so loaded with features most will only scratch the surface. Encryptable, so it’s also a good password keeper.
    Okay, a few more favourites: Y’zDock, Y’zshadow. CalcAnt. ClockX. DVDShrink. Audacity…
    Now, if only someone could recommend a decent disc library tool…

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  • http://www.2klix.com 2KLiX- build your own website

    What a thorough list, this must have taken quite some time to write up, thanks for sharing.

  • eljoshua

    This is truly a very interesting list. Thank you!

  • andy

    Very interesting list,plenty of good software there.But no mention of the best browser out there,Opera.Some other good security freeware would be Superantispyware and SandboxIE.

  • Anonymous

    a free ruler program for your PC:
    http://www.arulerforwindows.com

  • http://stumbleupon Larry

    gr8 list-may I add http://www.Gadwin.com for an excellent screencapture site? just select a hot key and it captures it. also Abi-word is another Microsoft word replacement. Only problem with it so far is that I have to change thefile type to .txt instead of .abw in order for my printer to work

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  • jason

    Great post!! Thanks!!

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  • http://problogreviews.blogspot.com/ ProBlogReviews

    Thanks for all the great links, I have justposted a review of this post on my blog, please feel free to stop in and check it out.

  • Jay

    Great list and appreciate the explanations!!

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  • trench

    Thank you for not just making this “yet another list”.

    If it had been named “53 essential freeware programs that can take care of the majority of your computing needs.” I probably wouldn’t have clicked on it.

    The “blog lists” are getting out of hand [10 best apps, 20 best this, 40 best that], and most of them are useless, but you did a damn fine job of rounding up some of the absolute best programs out there and listing them in a very practical way.

    I especially thank you for including FSCapture [definitely under-appreciated software]… and an extra thanks for linking to the last freeware version; last month I installed the newest version for the first time in well over a year and quickly realized it was only a demo. I had previously given this utility so much hype, online and offline, I felt like someone raped my face with an icepick when I saw it was no longer freeware. Grr.

    Nice job.

    You’ll definitely be getting hits from me often if you keep this up.

    – trench

  • phico52

    Comodo pesters you with popups to the point where you begin to confirm them automatically. Mysteriously, it warns you when one application on its trusted list calls another one on the same list. With bittorrent, it becomes unusable, requiring permission for every IP adress your client wants to connect to, which can be dozens. I reverted to ZoneAlarm.

  • genevere

    Many thanks for your wonderful list, gave me a lot to play with – some great applications, cheers!!!

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  • yoyar

    Why not just install Linux?

  • Ofir

    faststone capture not free any more. :(

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  • http://blog.sina.com.cn/xbeta xbeta

    I’m a blogger in China. Also devoted to promote freeware.

    I translated this article into Chinese, here
    http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_46dac66f01000crp.html

    ask for your permission.

  • Samer

    xbeta. You have permission. I’m glad you like the posting.

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  • Sai Wolf

    To all of you posting about “What about Ubuntu and linux?” STFU. It’s a post about freeware on WINDOWS. Don’t like it? Too bad.

    To the author: Good post! I’m usually well versed in freeware, but that list gave me some ideas. :) Keep up the good job.

  • richard

    you do relize that you would have spent absoluty
    nothing if had just installed Linux being that very single program above was originally based for Linux that is why its free

  • Samer

    Richard,
    Not every single program above was originally based for Linux. Not even the majority.

    I wrote this article for the Windows user. My main computer is a laptop supplied by my work, and I need to connect to applications for work that run on Windows. Converting to Linux is not an option, but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t outfit all of my non-work apps with entirely free software.

  • Boris

    Hi Samer, I think your site is great,
    you generosity and willingness to help even better..
    All the best brother and keep it this way..

  • mmmike

    Thanks dude.

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  • http://www.westlacountphotography.com JP

    Great writeup! Very complete and thorough. I am impressed and will definitely use this next time my system crashes or gets overloaded (which is about every few months)

  • loki_mdog

    Damn! This is the greatest freeware article I have ever seen…

    You really are a genius (and definitely not a bot)!

  • Karl

    I hope Microsoft reads this article. :)

    Nice work Samer!

  • http://techmalaya.com Syahid Ali

    man you cover it all. if you are looking for more, do scour my cool free software blog.

  • oover

    useless, and u have big problems, where is firefox, where is irfanview and so forth…

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  • JusJane

    Superb list, wonderfully written and made for Windows. I hope you are a paid reviewer somewhere as it seems to be your forte.

    For Linux lovers: go to Pages for Linux for info. simple, ain’t it ?

  • Koselara

    Not sure how you feel about this, but I just ran Shock Sticker for the first time, and my firewall promptly griped that it was trying to connect to the internet. (A lot of people dislike it when apps start trying to access sites on their own without giving us the option to opt out of monitoring.)

    (Also, maybe it’s just me, but I had no luck getting KatMouse to work. It started, but nothing about the scrolling behavior changed, regardless of what I tried changing…maybe updating my drivers will help.)

  • rel NO NAME

    Nice tutorial you put together here even if you’re a no follow type of guy.

  • freaksterrao

    Good post….
    Could use Rambooster for auto freeing the RAM & as the guys told FIREFOX man………

  • http://none marwin

    pls help my pc to repormatt my pc

  • Pfeiffer

    Thank´s Samer. Very usefull and very well done. Congratulations!

  • http://www.arrl.org/w1aw/prop/ Tad Cook

    Nice list! I recently formatted and installed a fresh WinXp Pro on my 3-year old Toshiba Satellite. Everything was much faster, and now things are gradually slowing as I’ve added more apps.

    What I’m interested in now are finding the least obtrusive anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall utilities for my laptop, free or not. It seems that more and more, security utilities want to be all things (ie, Zone Alarm Pro now is also an anti-spyware utility, and tries to sell me an upgrade to add anti-virus) and tend to slow things down by constantly checking for updates, doing security checks, etc, especially noticable right after booting up.

    I’m currently using Zone Alarm Pro, CA-Anti Virus, and Ad-Aware. I recently stopped using Spysweeper.

    I don’t even care if I have the best security. For my laptop, I just want total control over my security utilities. Currently, after I boot up, there is a seemingly long delay before my laptop can access the net, and I notice that once a message pops up from CA Anti-Virus that it is done with some initial checks, then everything is fine. There doesn’t seem to be any option to turn this off.

    Any suggestions, anyone?

  • Eno

    ESET Smart Security is about the fastest I have tried.

    ESET say of it that it —
    Prevents adware, bots, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms and other forms of malware. Blocks spam. Includes personal firewall.
    Based on ESET NOD32 Antivirus: The fastest, smallest and safest antivirus solution.

    You can down load a free 30 day trial.

    I did use AVG Anti-Virus and Zone alarm pro but like you say they kept adding bits to it.

    ESET have added a firewall to nod32 antivirus but I think it is still very fast and lightweight.

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  • kelli

    very interesting and informative…and must have been exhausting to write…

    I tend to have a lot of graphics programs too…but then I’m an artist. You described a few I haven’t heard of….very appreciated.

  • Marcus

    Nice apps (now using most of them)!

    However the weakest application seems to be no #1 (GParted live CD). It never worked for me – slow at booting really frustrating that it did not detect my usb hard drive. Thank god I have Norton Ghost!

    I tried out the NetMeter application (suggested by joevannee et al). It is awesome!

  • Steve

    Kewl! I have not even heard of most of the stuff
    you are suggesting here – despite the fact that,
    before giving up and switching to Linux last year,
    I too operated in a “free except for Windoze”
    environment. I take this as evidence that the day
    of commercial software has come and gone.

    Far as I know, a couple of accounting packages
    (Quickbooks etc.), Autodesk CAD, and Macromedia
    Flash are the only commercial applications for
    desktop PCs that still have a net cash value
    greater than zero. Now that “Windows” itself is
    obsolete – Ubuntu “just works” better than
    anything from MS for nearly all users, including
    the computer illiterate among us – and developing
    markets are closed to Microsoft, I believe we have
    turned the corner.

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  • http://malcolmmacdonald.org Malcolm

    To Tad Cook: I get that, too. Click ZA in the system tray; then Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware/Main; then “Skip” for any scan in progress (maybe both); then minimize and the RAM-hogging should be over. Interrupting updates is inadvisable, though. Remember to manually restart the scan at lunchbreak/signing off.

  • thebluejay

    Gadwin Print Screen is an excellent screen capture utility with a free version that does everything I want very well.

    http://www.gadwin.com/printscreen/?prnscr

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  • jm

    Great post. thanks for all the work on this.

  • Petertt

    Have a look at Winamp 5.5… it blew me away recently and has replaced itunes/mediamonkey on most pc’s i help out with.

  • Samer

    Winamp is ok, but I don’t like the dumbing down of the burning and ripping features to incentivise buying the ‘Pro version’

    Actually I recently found AIMP and am very impressed with it (http://www.aimp.ru/index.php?newlang=english). Its got a normalization feature which I like, but support for album art is lacking.

  • http://FIREFOX FIREFOX

    WHERES FIREFOX???? the best browser out there… no need for google toolbar with firefox

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  • ntepek

    Thanks for a great effort. Very, very helpful.

  • bobby

    bittyrant sucks lol. I cant beleive it made the list, obviously not a very knowladgeable torrent-er. utorrent or azureus ARE the best, that is undisputed. i personally use utorrent. btw try 5% faster speeds, you have to judge if you want to belong to private trackers and have peers not get pissed off at you, or to have 5% more speed.

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  • Alec

    This is an excellent list, engagedly written. Well done indeed.

  • Gallo Pinto

    I would say one need no audio player other than foobar2000. It is astoundingly light on system resources, and through plugins (about which there is much information in forums, etc)it can do anything. Transcode, Rip, Mass tag editing. Amazing. And of course, it’s free

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  • http://www.informednetworker.com/ David Mackey

    Nice list.

  • http://www.loggywebsites.com Michael Ateek

    I like Notesholder Lite instead of the sticky notes program(s) you suggested. A short dock bar or icon in the sys tray. Trim, nil on resources, etc.

    Fantastic ideas put out with this blog. Especially the pre-installation stuff.

    I knew most of the programs you suggest, but you’ve got me hooked on the idea of FlashFolder. I use DM2, but this looks like it might be a valuable addition.

    Thank you.

    (Other websites under my name. The most interesting web search in the world.)

  • Marc Desbiens

    Other great Free appz

    Drag n’ Crypt Ultra

    Ted Notepad

    Cool YouTube Downloader

    Locate32
    Process Explorer

    Web Downloader

    Batchrun
    Hotkey Manager
    Hotkeyz
    Flock Browser
    Multi Timer

    Xmplay
    Mptrim
    Bulk Rename Utility
    Km Player

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  • http://Martinstofiraaol.co.uk martin

    eeeeeeeeeeessssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

  • mcanon

    The Linux pushers have got to stop. Yes, most Linux distros offer a great deal of free software, but that’s not the point of this article.

    Back to the actual topic… great article here! There’s a lot of stuff I’m anxious to check out. I’d also like to throw a couple great ones at ya…

    Foobar2000
    Paint.NET

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  • http://cbarker.ws/ Resonate

    Excellent thankyou for sharing this great article

  • Ritwik

    Great article. Thank you!

  • http://stumble leslie swank

    WOW is there anything not here?

    catgotyourtongue

  • http://mp3hunt.blogspot.com/ sam

    Fire fox and VLC player missing!!!

  • Samer

    Actually VLC is mentioned. See entry #28.

  • Jim W

    Great page. The thumbnails and popup screenshots make all the difference. I wonder how you do that. I’ve seen the same effect on a big site … maybe it was the Mozilla extensions site or something like that.

  • Michel

    Wow!! What an awesome blog! I have read some blogs, social commentaries, position and opinion papers. I love websites and information sources that contain news you can really use (believe me I’ve encountered some pretty useless stuff out there). I’ve got tell you that your blog is one of the best and most useful that I have ever read… no kidding. Thanks for all the good practical advice. Keep up the good work

    Michel (Psalms 100:1-5)

  • http://nowebsite jános márton

    ok

  • GVLima

    Hey, this is great!! I love freeware and I didn´t know many of these listed here…

    Samer, do you do anything besides trying freeware programs ? :o)

    Thanks!!

    GVLima.

  • http://- ali

    hello
    my sister have an apple laptop and she want to have windows xp on her system how chould i install windows xp on the apple laptop.
    thank you

  • Samer

    GVLima: indeed I have a day job. I work at an internet marketing company doing analytics and reporting. I do a lot of A/B testing of websites.

  • http://www.stopdroprecover.blogspot.com FireManJohn

    Outstanding selection!
    some good additions by others.
    Suggestions;replace Spyware Terminator w/Pest Patrol(older version),
    the ONLY program I found to kill the LimeWire Leftovers.
    Even better than CCleaner is NCleaner.
    FastStone Capture for screen printing.

  • MexicoMan

    Some good info, but aren’t we forgetting that not all applications are represented by freeware or open source? Both sides might be better represented by a less biased approach. And if it’s open source you want, what about the OS? Many generation’s of Linux are available–and it’s an absolutely excellent OS. No, I don’t use it as my primary OS but I can boot to Feisty Fawn.

    Additionally, lets praise where it is due. I read these comments and they sound like you have a rule to follow. Not be nice, but be complimentary–in all cases. I do however strongly disagree with posting of the unfortunately all too common mindless and senseless, non-relevant American teen-age juvenile prattle.

    Yet I also disagree with the need to be unnecessarily complimentary just for the sake of not somehow appearing foul with a following realistic but not necessarily ego lifting entry. We can make relevant comments without having to first say how good we think something is. I would presume most folks can tell the difference between a ‘gimme’ comment and authentic reality. Besides, feeling the need to remain complimentary almost stops any realistically unbiased and critical critique.

    Being less than 100% supportive often opens a learning channel. Then we are free to voice less than perfectly social commentary. Perhaps even thoughtful, insightful dialog that may have come by unintentional free association based on the provided material. Hmmm?

  • OhnO the Clown

    GREAT blog! I especially enjoyed this “re-install” list and its explanations and your insights. I have recomended this to several associates. How about a follow up for those of us still using Win2k instead of XP? I know a lot of diehard Win2K’ers that would appreciate this and are even more open to the freeware philosophy.

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  • http://www.ishbadiddle.com MEL

    I just bought a new PC with XP and the first thing I did was go to this list and installed a whole lot of these! Thanks!

    A few more submitted for your consideration:

    PureText — you can set a hotkey to strip all formatting when you paste some text.

    Notepad — Text app with lots of great plugins

    Foxit — PDF Reader.

  • Bob

    A very useful list I have on my machine the following

    Deepburner – I have had many problems with the new CDburnerXP pro

    IVC Internet Video Converter version 1.5

    Koyote Softs Free Audio Pack with converter and ripper

    Peazip which seems to handle more formats than I’ve ever heard of

    Folder Marker so I can have my folders in pretty colours

    Eraser – to securely delete files

    Auslogics Disc and Registry defrag – keeps it fast

    Antivir – I like and has stopped several trojans

    Absolute MP3 Splitter

    Edraw mind map 1 – to help with planning

    AM deadlink to check my bookmarks occasionally

    Local website archive – when I really like something

    freeserifsoftware – do a nice collection of freebies – older graphic packages but still work well and easier to use than some of the later ones

    and Opera seems nice light and quick for a web browser. Firefox seems a bit heavy these days

    I also use several of the programs on your list – and will try one or two others – thank you

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  • http://san sanshao

    Comodo Firewall good

  • http://www.comichacks.com Chris @ ComicHacks.com

    This is one awesome post!

    I need to reformat my laptop and am seriously considering using a lot of these tools when I do.

    Have you done a similar post like this about using Ubuntu? I’m wanting to give that OS a try but I don’t know anything about it.

    Thanks for the awesome post!!

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  • Deof Movestofca

    The first thing I would recommend to anyone who was going to re-install Windows is to first create an installation disk with the latest service pack and any additional hot fixes integrated into it. You can do this manually (msfn.org has a guide at http://unattended.msfn.org/unattended.xp/view/web/2/) or use a program such as nLite (nliteos.com) or XP-ISO-Builder (http://www.winfuture.de/xpisobuilder3_en), or some combination (I’m currently manually integrating SP4 and HFs to W2K, and then am going to use nLite to remove components I don’t want followed up by adding custom .reg files and finishing touches with XP-ISO-Builder. This should be safe to do as long as a task done in one program isn’t repeated in the other. E.g, I plan to integrate the product key with nLite and therefore skip this step in XP-ISO-Builder.
    As for antivirus software, I have plenty of room on my HD and thus carry AVG, AntiVir, and Avast. They co-exist quite nicely just as long as one doesn’t have more than one running at a time.

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  • http://www.tamilake.com 7leads

    Thank you. An awesome job and good stuff I use and need to use !

  • Fuser

    Hey, don’t forget the following:

    Jodix Audio Converter
    Syncback
    Eraser

    These are very good programs.

  • Admin

    I use linux, windoze is outdated and all in all poopie, your wasting your time installing software on an operating system riddled with holes

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  • 6-way

    great list.try xmplay dude, nice sound quality and very light.

  • capricornus

    My best advice (after 100 times installing XP, I should know): repartition your HD, 2x NTFS and 2x Linux (ext3 swap) and make it dual boot under grub. Your system will be more stable, and you’ll never loose essential data again.
    Try Mint or Mepis, or Zenwalk or Wolvix.

  • http://www.belhard.com/ BelHard

    It’s really the longest list of freeware programs made by one person))) I’d add Seoquake here too.)))

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  • http://www.magictweak.com Albert

    Take a try Magic Boss Key from http://www.magictweak.com

  • Jan

    I was having trouble uninstalling CA Security Suite and found Revo. Apparently, it removed all the cleanup but the program files are still there. Do I just delete them?

    CA is no longer listed in Revo or Windows Add/Remove.

    Thanks for your help.

  • http://microlog.co.uk martin

    DIXMl is a wonderful piece of freeware and if you copy disk to disk of same or (I seem to remeber larger size) works perfectly.
    If however you make an image of your HD and attempt to restore, it is not so good. I believe because the image removes spaces as it builds, so when you restore XP from an image file it does not go back to the liking of Mr. Gates as he requires a raw copy. I am told Vista is even more ‘picky’ – so don’t rely on it – test restoring to an old spare disk using Bart PE, before you spread the word. I hope it works for you. There doesn’t seem to be a working freeware imaging program that does this, but could be wrong.
    A very nice site by the way and thankyou for all the information and your hard work and research.
    All trade marks and copyrights acknowledged

    /\/\artin

  • doorknob60

    I feel your list is incomplete unless you add Firefox. Nice list though, I didn’t know about lots of those programs :)

  • Mark

    Hello,
    First a thank you for such an excellent website and the hard work that went into it.
    Secondly,I have been using a screen capture program called “GADWIN PRINT SCREEN”.It is a great feeware program as I have been using it for 4 or 5 years.Give it a go.Here is the address to the download page. Just sroll down until you see it.

    http://www.gadwin.com/download/.

    Thank you again and take care.

    Sincerely,
    Mark

  • http://nextpage.com Risk Management

    Will any of these conflict with the document management software I use for work?

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  • Phylis Sophical

    Great list. I already use many of them. But even greater is the simple explanations you gave for why you like each one.

  • witchesofus

    I saw that you asked for another screen capture program. SnagIt is great. It also lets you edit you screen capture in a very handy program, which is why I like it.

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  • Eric

    Very good and useful list.
    However, buyer beware when it comes to firewalls and anti-virus programs.
    Having computer experience slightly above the common user, I had two computers where I installed Comodo and AVG. I enjoy being married to my wife, please be sure you have read up thoroughly before attempting these installs. Also create a good backup, and backup point before venturing into these waters. I had to completely reinstall Vista on one machine, and I don’t know how I got the other machine to work (enough installs/ uninstalls did the trick).
    As dollar conscious as I am, $50/ year for pre-installed software seems like a small investment to keep a system running smooth.
    Open Office rocks! My kids enjoy Miro.

  • jeev

    A genius of pogramd–excellent
    Please make the download links clearly in red or blue.
    I would suggest free download manager–a good downloader which easily downloads youtube video

    And–visualcd-a superb cd catalog software

  • jeev

    Please try these software
    Cacheman XP-good memory manager
    Locate32-Quick document searcher
    Copernic desktop search
    Limewire–peer sharing
    Teracopy–superb file copier
    mediacoder–video converter
    hazard shield–malware protector
    Winkey-launch programs from keyboard
    Desktop icon toy
    Super video converter
    Skype messenger
    Magicdisc–virtul cd creator
    dateintray
    Godlikemouse–FLV player

    Please give your opinions on the above because I love your reviews written so nicely
    Vist http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum for good reviews of software/troubleshooting
    http://WWW.portablefreeware.com is also good

  • Spiritwolf

    Another freeware I wouldn’t be without is TED Notepad. It has an amazing list of features, including “Unique” (able to find and delete duplicate text lines), upper/lower case changer, ability to sort text lines alphabetically, just to mention a few I use most.

    At the link for the manual, you can view a partial list of the tremendous numbers of features this program has.

    TED Notepad
    http://jsimlo.sk/notepad/
    http://jsimlo.sk/notepad/manual/

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  • http://www.backuphistory.com Maxim

    Thanks very much for this selection. I’ve found several small but very useful tools!
    Folder Size, Shock Sticker and Unlocker are really handy.
    And what about Punto Switcher?

  • Dale

    Maybe you can download this FREE eMAIL Archiver called MailStore Home. I really like this one…
    Visit: http://www.mailstore.com/en/

  • Samer
  • ahmed

    hi it is very good thanks

  • Ed

    Just want to add a couple more to this growing (excellent) list:

    PDFreDirect – free PDF printer (Can go Pro for a few more features)

    QTTabBar – as someone said – “Now Windows Explorer doesn’t suck so much anymore”.

    AND – Skype

  • Ed

    Darn I use it so much I forgot to metion it:

    If you use Outlook for email then you NEED NEO (Nelson Email Organiser). You’ll wonder how you lived without it.

  • http://www.yourcall247.com graham/liverpool/england

    just reading through your list:3 a.m. great reading and well worth the time, keep up the good work there are too many ‘Bill (bloody richman) gates, exploiting everybody, winpatrol is an o.k prog’

  • http://www.yourcall247.com graham/liverpool/england

    http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_cleaner/registry_cleaner.htm (very good free and effective registry cleaner)

  • http://www.yourcall247.com graham/liverpool/england

    drivermax doesn’t download updated drivers….shame

  • http://www.blah-blahblogs.com/ Teena

    thanks for this information. this is very useful in case we ran into any problem with our other softwares. thanks again. and please do visit our site.

  • Brian

    I have a question, why install 10 different media players when Windows Media Player, the one that comes with Windows, plays just about everything (provided people don’t encode in ‘retarded’ 3rd party codecs)?

    The only software you EVER need to install for security is Avast and Windows Defender. Those coupled with Windows Firewall is ALL anyone EVER needs for a secure system. Take it from someone who has 15 years of experience in computers/technology.

  • Naddie

    Thanks for the list of free adware softwares :) Really hopeful. Am trying out Stickies and Revo Uninstaller for starters – I might consider buying that new laptop sooner since I get sticky fingers thinking of all the adwares I could install now *laughs*

    Again, thanks!

  • Samer

    @Naddie: just FYI none of the above software is adware. Its all 100% free, guaranteed.

  • Ray leaper

    Love the list, I use many of them. I dislike GOOGLE for search I use Clusty( http://clusty.com)
    It pre groups similar results under different sub hsections. I tried Handbrake in the search engine and it sorted the hits under different clusters( sections) eg Downloads, Reviews, Rips, ipod videos etc TRY IT it doesn’t load any tools bars etc
    Keep up the great work,, Ray from Aussie Land

  • http://mgthantzin.wordpress.com Thant Zin

    Do you intend to update this post? =)

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  • http://www.saikatbiswas.com saikat

    I think this is perhaps the most important post to create an attitude towards freewares….so it’s should be always there right in front in the homepage like it used to be.

    don’t make any of your visitor miss this awesome post!

  • JK

    Cannot believe it! This post was posted in october 07 and its still receiving comments.Your new ajax navigation system is really working. :)

    Nice Work.

  • CobWeb

    A Linux-based OS is all that’s missing.

  • CoolMoDee

    I love the list, reference it frequently, hope it gets back on the homepage soon, but think it’s time for an updated version.

    Keep up the fantastic work!!

  • Bill Smith

    Great list. I may try this out one day, but right now I’m comfy with what I got.

    By the way, Launchy is awesome.

  • Lord Kante

    Very good list… but a few recommendations:

    -For im: Digsby. omg, its absolutly the best
    -Songbird: right now its still a little sliggish, but it is really amazing as well
    -and Firefox. Cant live without firefox.

  • http://none Rossy

    The list of these free programs is really cool.
    I would like to suggest http://www.recuva.com/ it releases a program to recover files accidentally deleted, it is totally free.

    I will try out one day to reinstall windows using these list.

    Amazing!!!

  • Kida

    I’d like to recommend MWSnap 3 as a screen capture program. It’s small, yet powerful. I’m not sure it’s being actively developed anymore, though. I was able to download it recently here:

    http://www.mirekw.com/winfreeware/mwsnap.html

  • http://echoleaf.com Arp

    Fantastic site, and an excellent list of applications. Just wanted to note that I tried Ncleaner instead of CCleaner and got BSODs. Once right after install (!!!) and another time during some basic cleaning.

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  • http://freshcreate.com freshcreate

    great collection, thanks!

  • Carbonize

    Samer needs to update this list to reflect changes in software. AVG 8 is now slow as hell and even Samer thinks that KMPlayer is better than Gomplayer.

  • BrainCell

    Korean made KMPlayer is my favorite. Better then VLC – with more feature and complex codec package.By the way; I can’t find GOM software? On cnet is dead…

  • Mark Wilson

    Great list. I used Drive Image XML for a while but found ping to be superior, especially as you can create DVDs which take a couple of key presses and it will restore your partition, far quicker than booting BartPE.

  • http://www.imeem.com/people/UrLHU6j Immiliblique

    Thanks for the post

  • http://ajaybnl.co.nr Ajay

    Can anyone create a torrent or upload these freewares togather!

    If anyone give me all names in a comma or semicomma saperated list of download urls, i can download them all at once and upload togather to torrent or upload it to server.

    to have ppl easy job installing it.

  • marom

    What a brilliant post. Many thanks.

  • http://na iwanttoknow

    hey does anybody have a free program that can allow me to access my girfriends hotmail account.
    she use to use my computer and i would like to know what she is up to.

  • http://N/A Marsha

    So I’m not computer savvy. Can you explain to me how I can get all this stuff to download? I mean, how will I be able to get on to the internet without any programs (including web browsers)installed? I’m about to do a clean install of Windows XP.

  • Hiram Q. Pustule

    @Marsha: After you load Windows XP, you will have Internet Explorer installed. Use that to download Firefox (or Opera, or Chrome, or what-not). Install that browser, and then you’re on your way.

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  • http://www.wiserearth.org/user/bowo Wibowo Sulistio

    Got to be one of the best freeware list out there. Always discovered wonderful yet not-commonly-heard-of freewares in your site. Thanks for doing all of this research and writing Samer!

    I would or could only add one freeware to your list in the increasingly social web: BlogDesk. A nice, clean, and highly usable desktop blogging client (for Windows only).

    And for those Linux enthusiast commenting on this article, you might consider reviewing the following freewares for them:

    – DiskInternals Linux Reader (allow to read and copy files from your linux partitions)

    – Unetbootin (allow to install with ease almost any popular Linux distro from ISO file, from Windows)

    Again… Thanks buddy!

    Cheers,
    Bowo
    Jakarta, Indonesia

  • http://www.xneat.com/clipboard-manager/ KokoKlock

    check out this free Clipboard management software

    http://www.xneat.com/clipboard-manager/

  • Herb

    RE: Google Toolbar
    Google has privacy issues. I decrapify ALL Google software off of ALL new PC’s and Notebooks. “For what it’s worth…”

  • Charlie

    A new screen capture program to try is Bug Shooting (http://www.bugshooting.com). It does a bang up job.

  • Juan

    You’re missing Google earth.

  • Juan

    I go with Maxthon as a browser, give it a try and you’ll see, Firefox is really good as you can install a huge variety of apps, but this one makes browse on internet a pleasure with it;s features. http://www.maxthon.com/

  • bp

    G Earth is huge and a memory whore.
    AMIC EMAIL BACKUP IS NOT FREE ANYMORE>>>

  • Nikos

    Amazing post, thanks for sharing with us all that really useful info!! Great list, contains all my favorite freeware, and I discovered some new! I guess you didn’t include mozilla firefox and thunderbird, because it is really obvious… :) Very nice job! I’m gonna start testing most of them! It’s nice to see people supporting freeware and open-source programs!

  • Chris

    Free download Manager is another great free alternative to the Orbit downloader.

    Also the other free firewall is zonealarm although it has become quite complex and bloated recently

  • http://www.techjaws.com Frank J

    Wow! That’s a great list and it looks like you put a lot of effort into this post. Nice job!

  • Matt

    As long as you’re using Windows you’re not really doing the open source movement any favors.

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  • http://www.rustyhenderson.com Rusty

    Great Post! I am nominating you to the committee for the webbies! Great resource! Vote for it at my page

  • Anonymous

    Just found your site. Great! Marvelous! Wonderful! Magnificent! I could go on, but I think that you can see I really appreciate it! Suggestion: Reverse the date order of the comments. with the latest comment at the top. Question: What is “PINGBACK”? None of the links work for me; they all time out.

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  • Ed

    Thanx for this GREAT site! I’ll pass this on to friends. Keep up the good work.

  • http://bombao.com alexis

    For the night sky lover a primer free:
    STELLARIUM

  • Prabhakar Goud

    Samer..

    Having come a long way after writing this article, I believe you have found many other softwares that would definitely make it to this list. So, when is an overhaul of this article is going to be.

  • ichiban1962

    Take a deep breath and smell the roses microsoft will hate ya!
    yer turnin’ into linux lovers!

    everything should be free and it should all have been included in the bloody install disc!

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  • http://www.abloggersbooks.com/http://anne-lyken-garner.blogspot.com/ Anne Lyken-Garner

    Wow! I can’t beleive it took me this long to find this page. You have some amazing info here. Thanks.

  • http://www.fastregistryfixes.com/windows_xp_registry_cleaners.html Windows XP Registry cleaner Tools

    Thanks – this is great!!

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  • http://www.actvise.ro/ program gestiune

    As long as you’re using Windows you’re not really doing the open source movement any favors.

  • paul

    ive been coming back to this page for years and thought id stop and say thanks!! as good as this page still is after all these years id love to see an updated list, that would be great. i also see alot of people think firefox should be on the list, i would have to agree. if only so you can add the add-on adblock plus.

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  • http://www.studentbrands.co.za Student Brands

    Thanks for the list, very useful and very well numbered thanks again

  • happyjosh

    Very impressive. I’ve discovered Launchy and CDBurnerXP for myself. May suggest a freeware for generating strong secure passwords – SoftFuse
    Password Generator Free
    http://www.password-generator.com/free.html

    I ofter use it to create strong passwords for my accounts (e-mails, sites, etc.)

  • Ian

    Wouldn’t an all freeware system be running Linux or one of the other free opeb source OS’s?

    • Samer

      @Ian: yes, it would. But this list is for people who use Windows.

  • http://www.zco.com/ iPhone Development

    Great list, contains all my favorite freeware, and I discovered some new! I guess you didn’t include mozilla firefox and thunderbird, because it is really obvious… :) Very nice job!

  • http://apetsmart.com james

    If a software uninstall fails you need to need to clean up the installation before you can try again.

  • Neil from Ohio

    I used to use Primo PDF (#49 on your list) and I liked it. But after awhile it started choking on web pages, throwing errors whenever I tried to print a web page to PDF.

    So I switched to PDF Creator, and have not had any problems with it. I like the way it can consolidate mutiple source files into one PDF target.

  • Neil from Ohio

    I used to use Primo PDF (#49 on your list) and I liked it. But after awhile it started choking on web pages, throwing errors whenever I tried to print a web page to PDF.

    So I switched to PDF Creator, and have not had any problems with it. I like the way it can consolidate multiple source files into one PDF target.

  • John

    For photo viewing, I like Shock View. It’s a lot like ACDSee, which I also like but couldn’t afford to pay for.
    Shock View is freeware, along with numerous other “Shock” apps.

  • Zak

    I’d like to suggest MusicBee as a replacement music player/manager. Free for personal use, full featured, and a very attentive developer who implements requested features within days.

    It’s quickly becoming a Winamp / SongBird / iTunes replacement for a lot of people. It also does volume normalisation, so could replace MP3Gain on your list.

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  • Lawry

    This is a great list but it is now ~4 years old – time for an update?

  • http://www.pcsoftware.in/ PC software

    This blog is providing free ware programs for re install the system.i think this good site for installing system.thanks for sharing this information with us.

  • http://hotmailo helena

    estupendo.

  • dan

    Is there a VISTA version of this article?

  • traveler

    Thank you for your brain and pencil work.

    Very handy, usefull guideline-starting point on the web.

    Have good life.

    A traveling visitor (Ernie)

  • traveler

    Thank you for your brain and pencil work.

    Very handy, usefull guideline-starting point on the web.

    Have good life.

    A traveling visitor (Ernie)

  • http://www.anyclient.com Alanna

    I found another free ftp client that works well. It’s JSCAPE’s AnyClient. It’s free and supports FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and Amazon S3 and it’s compatible with Mac OS. You can check it out at http://www.anyclient.com. Just thought I would share another freebie!

  • Tom O

    Do you people realize that this is a 5 year old post ???? There are way better and many more free apps out there today. Not to criticize the original poster, but most of the apps he listed are obsolete or unnecessary and now considered bloatware. Who needs a download manager or a RAM monitor (cleaner … whatever) etc etc etc … If he was running all these programs back in ’07 he would’ve needed at least a Gig or two of RAM to even surf or check email. What kind of machines are you people running in 2012 … and what kind of internet connections do you have ?? I am not trying to be rude or disrespectful …. but seriously. To the Linux lovers … I have run Linux on a dedicated box and on dual boot systems for years and I like it … It does not and never will do what windows does. Sure it will does most of it …. if you have the patience and dedication of a saint. The average computer user could not use it as a primary OS …. So …… Sudo that mofo’s

  • A.J.

    Good point, Tom … but MAYBE (just maybe) people still looking at this might give Samer some incentive to re-do this? It would be interesting to see what are the survivors from this list above and what others have likely supplanted most of these?