The best Freewaregenius articles of 2012

We published many articles that we’re very proud of this year, and we’ve updated some older ones that we like a lot.

In retrospect, our best articles seem to predominantly be about answering the question: what is the best free tool to do something (e.g. best ZIP program, best Data Recovery, best Disk Imaging, best Free PDF to Word, etc), and generally speaking articles where we don’t just compare features but measure performance data.

Despite being hit by Google Panda not once but twice in the span of 6 months, we believe that some of the articles we published are best in class for both style and substance. For the purposes of this post we will roll some article ‘series’ into one, and present our TWELVE favorites in ascending order.

1. The best free data recovery tool: 14 undelete tools compared

This is my favorite article of the year because the results were somewhat of a surprise, but, more important, because I imagine that this article might help some reader in distress recover their data from a faltering hard drive or accidental format, etc.

2. The best free disk imaging program: a comparative analysis

Another comparison article, this time to determine the best FREE disk imaging program. Once again, we measured performance as well as compared features. Overall, we present some great programs.

3. A comparison of FREE Cloud Storage Services

Everyone wants in on the cloud storage bandwagon, with Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and many others all following in Dropbox’s footsteps. But which service provides the best FREE plan? This article compares all free options and lays them side by side for you.

We will be updating this article in 2013 with more cloud storage options and up to date feature comparisons.

4. The Best Free Compression / ZIP program: a comparison

Quick: what is the best FREE zip/compression program for Windows? Whatever your answer, you are likely to be surprised by our choice in this article.

This article was our most ambitious program comparison ever, just in terms of the data collected (is there such a thing as too much data?). I am planning to update the article in 2013 with some new programs and a more reader friendly analysis.

5. Must Have Free Android Apps (parts one, two, and three)

Three articles, not one, which I think every Android user will find quite interesting. Look for more in this series in 2013.

media-upload

  • Part 1: relatively unknown but terrific must-have staples for your Android.
  • Part 2: apps that will make you happy as an Android user.
  • Part 3: apps that are a little bit more esoteric and unusual.

6. Take FREE online courses from the TOP 40 colleges in the US

college-logo-grid

This post started when I wanted to answer the question: is it possible to get an online degree from one of the top 40 universities in the US, for FREE? The answer turned out to be a definitive: No; they will not grant a degree without tuition. However, most of the top 40 universities have extensive online course offerings that can be taken completely FREE, from open source courseware and books to video lectures to iTunesU multimedia offerings.

The article is simply an extensive directory of links, but I am really proud of it because of its scope, which turned out to be rather ambitious.

7. How to install freeware cleanly – a catalog of the most dubious crapware installation methods

With so many free programs adding undesirable bundled installs and ‘offers’ that piggyback on the main installer, I felt a need to write a good, up-to-date resource on the various not-so-above-board practices that crapware installers use, and this is the result.

8. Supercharge your right-click menu with these ten UNIQUE utilities: Part 1 and Part 2

I love the Windows right click menu, even as I wonder if it will ultimately disappear with the migration of computing interfaces towards flickable touchscreens.

Right-Click-functions-illustrationRight-Click-functions-illustration-part2

But in any case I enjoy posting this series, which consists of interesting collections of useful functions to have in the Windows right click menu. The response to these posts hasn’t been as enthusiastic as I expected, but nonetheless I am always looking for interesting right click tools to feature in the next installment of these. Check out parts ONE and TWO.

9. Twenty five FREE online tutorials for learning iOS and Android programming

Two articles that aren’t much more than directories of listings, meant to be resources for those who want to learn iOS or Android programming, and want to do it via FREE online courses.

iOS programmingAndroid-light-bulb2

Still, if you are interested in programming apps for Android or iOS, you will likely appreciate these quite a bit. Check out the iOS post; the Android post.

10. Do copy acceleration utilities actually lower file transfer speeds? Our tests say yes

I like this one because it involved (a) collecting data, and (b) because the findings were not what we expected, and were in fact surprising to many readers.

If you didn’t catch this one the first time around, its worth looking at.

11. The best FREE ‘send large files’ services: Ten file hosting options compared

There are many ‘send-large-file’ services that will let you send large files, but which ones are the most suited for your purposes? This article attempts to present the most worthy of these in a single page, and make it easy to find the one you seek.

 

12. How to convert PDF to Word DOC for free: a comparative test

We first published this one in 2010, and updated in in 2012. It remains one of the best articles we’ve ever published, and a definitive resource on comparing free PDF to Word conversion options (we would have listed this at number one in this list, but it is very well known and we decided to give the limelight to other posts). This post will surely be updated in 2013.


 
 
 
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Dec 28, 2012
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  • http://stayontop.org Henk van Setten

    Dear Samer,
    I really like the excellent content of your Freewaregenius site. But I hate the font that makes it almost unreadable. Several characters in this font are indistinguable, for example c=o and i=l. So on this site, a word like “official” looks like “offlolal” and “content” becomes “oontent”, “in”looks like “ln” and so on.
    Here is a link to a screenshot of how Freewaregenius looks on my PC (Opera 12.12, but it’s the same in other browsers): https://dl.dropbox.com/u/8233092/freewaregenius.jpg
    So, a simple question: why not use a READABLE font? Right now, every time I want to really read a Freewaregenius post, I have to disable your site’s CSS first (which returns me to a readable default font).

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/110765036334827012485 Samer Kurdi

      Wow. I really was not aware of this at all, Henk — it does not look like this on my screen. Thanks for letting me know about it, and for the screenshot.

      The good news is that we are working on a brand new theme for Freewaregenius that will be launched in January. I think most readers will like it a lot, and I think the font issue will be solved as well.

      • http://stayontop.org Henk van Setten

        Just out of curiosity – but also because I have encountered this same unreadable font issue with one or two other websites – would you have any idea why your site would look OK on your screen, while looking wrong on my screen? Are you using some unusual/nonstandard CSS feature, or some particular font that needs to be installed on the user computer in order to render correctly? I’m curious to wonder what might be causing this…

        • Samer Kurdi

          @ Henk: I just launched the new theme and I am wondering if you still have the same font issues. Please let me know!

  • Andrew

    I’m using the latest Opera, and I never had readability issues with this site, or any other site for that matter.

  • jasray

    http://help.opera.com/Windows/11.60/en/fonts.html

    Maybe try changing fonts; I’m sure clear text is selected, if not, then . . .

    I change the fonts with Ubuntu’s FF because what the developers use as default is horrendous for me.

    • http://stayontop.org Henk van Setten

      Thanks for your suggestions. But changing fonts within Opera does not help . This problem is not browser-related. If I open Freewaregenius in Internet Explorer 9, I get to see exactly the same almost-unreadable font.
      I’d really like to know exactly what fonts, font sizes etc. Samer defined for the body text of the Freewaregenius site. Somehow, that seems to be what causes the problem, at least in all browsers on my Win7 computer.
      Meanwhile, let’s not forget that apart from this minor font problem, this really is a great site! I really appreciate all the original and often useful posts here.

  • http://versatile1.wordpress.com Versatile

    I use google chrome latest version, and never had a font reading issue like this. How odd!

  • http://www.paleografie.tk Cerberus

    Henk, I have to say that this may be something related to your OS. It looks fine in my Win XP. Perhaps you have a special font installed. Or some programs can make fonts look different.

  • Toni

    Henk,
    On my computer (windows 7/firefox) everything looks just fine and perfectly readable. Your font looks very different from the font that I see on my screen. I think it is weird that all your c’s (as in cheese) look exactly like o’s (as in opera). My guess is there must be some system-wide setting on your computer which causes this, since it happens with different browsers.

  • http://stayontop.org Henk van Setten

    Thanks all for trying to help and solve this riddle. As for the system setting suggestion: I have three computers, each one of course with their own system: two with Win7-x32 and one with Win7-x64. They are far from identical, for example one of them has a big array of extra fonts installed, while the two others have just a fairly standard set of fonts. Still I encounter this weird font effect on all three of them! So frankly, would this be a wrong system setting shared by all three computers? Not very likely, I think.
    Because most sites render perfectly for me and I encounter this problem only with Samer’s Freewaregenius and a few less important other webpages, I still think the root of the problem is likely to be some kind of error in this site’s specific HTML or CSS or script code. It will be interesting to see if the problem goes away when Samer introduces his new site layout next month: if it does, then I suppose this indicates a code-related cause. If it does not go away with the new Freewaregenius layout, I will try hard to pinpoint what’s wrong.
    Thanks to all again – I think we owe it to Samer to end this off-topic thread now, and to refocus our comments on the actual content of all his work!

  • Chris

    Hit by Panda twice in six months? That’s rough man. Google sux.

  • Bo

    Great site, but I by a large measure preferred the format for the site as you previously had things arranged. I really found the genius in your methodology of recommending and reviewing software. Mostly the user comments seemed on the money when it came to software I have tried. I’m sure the comments are still there, but the darker theme seemed to bring things better to light for me. Super outstanding site and concept nonetheless…

    • Samer Kurdi

      @ Bo: if I understand correctly, you are saying that the comments section was better formatted previously? I will look into a better styling for the comments section.

      • Bo

        I just remember the theme was sort of a dark (black) color overall if I am recalling correctly. Seems like at one time the background for the main page was sort of dark. I got kind of a little bit of a dungeon feel from the page before that I thought was really very cool (sort of Wolfenstein 3D and Arena Elder Scrolls…one dungeon to the next…gotta find your way out). Actually, I think the article listings on the right and on the main portion of the page may have been white…and also the comments. I think it was just the background was black in the overall sense. I guess I am going back maybe a year? Anyway, the comments seemed to be more noticeable. Sorry if I am wrong about this.

        I really do get the genius in your linkages and rankings. Thumbs up! :)

        • Samer Kurdi

          Thanks for all the kind words, Bo.
          I just implemented a new styling for the comments section which I think is better. I hope this makes the comments more noticable.

          • Bo

            Wow, thanks Samer. I like the update. You really seem to get some excellent commentary going on the various pages of your site. Starts with good articles!… :)