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INTRODUCTION: This page lists some of the programs that will help you get the most out of your computer. I have personally tried out everyone of them. Keep in mind what programs are available here for downloading and when you need them (after a re-install or upon acquisition of a new computer) just come back here to look for them. To make it easier I've put all the links for direct downloading separately. Click here.

  Free and useful software to download and install (3)  

NOTE: I have no dealings at all with the marketing of any of the products mentioned below (other than as an end-user) and the recommendations are provided as a public service. In short, I've nothing to sell. Only those programs that are free (or at least have a free version) are included. Many of the sites will ask for your email. If you do not wish to be overwhelmed by spam mail may I suggest that you create an email account with either Yahoo, Outlook or Gmail just for this purpose.

How would you like to have a drive (ok, it's just a virtual drive called F: or G: or Z: and is nothing like the C: or D: drives that you might already have) where you can keep all your personal or confidential files or pictures from other people's prying eyes? What a boon this will be to many. Besides it's free and so easy to use. It is called Cryptainer LE. Go to the site to learn more about it.

For a mysterious reason (as so often happens with Microsoft's OS) you just can't open your Word file anymore. One thing you can do in such a case (apart from tearing your hair out) is to install Word Viewer and try to read it from there.
Incidentally if someone sent you an .swf file (such files are created with Macromedia's Flash player) and you don't have the Flash 4 plug-in to play it what you can do is to download this little program called SWF Opener. Once installed you will be able to open the .swf file and see the animations.
But if it is a photo file that you cannot open then you'll need Irfanview

You know that when you delete a file it is not lost forever because it goes to the Recycle Bin. If ever you change your mind you can always go there to recover it. But what happens when your Recycle Bin has been emptied. Is it lost forever or can it still be recovered? Well thanks to this little program it can still be recovered (the chances are better when you have not been using your computer after that, so keep your fingers crossed). To download it go here for File Recovery.

A similar program is called Restoration. Incidentally you can also recover deleted files from your USB memory stick with this program. In fact it also works the other way round i.e. it makes sure it will be impossible to restore any of your deleted files that you consider confidential or embarrassing if anyone should get their hands on. How does it do this? It simply overwrites deleted files that are still on the hard disk with random, meaningless data making them unreadable to the police. I've known of a few such "full-time" shredders but to my knowledge none of them is free so I will not mention them here.

The following program is of particular interest to webmasters as it helps to elucidate your HTML script. As its name implies it's quite similar to Notepad but it has many more functions (such as putting the tags in color) so you'll be able to see what went wrong if your HTML file doesn't open. It's called Notepad++ .

Google has just made available to the cyber public a program that will enable you to search a file in your computer (whether it's created with Notepad, Word, Excel or Powerpoint) the same way as you do in internet. But it can only work if your computer runs on Windows XP or Windows 2000 Service Pack 3. Besides files it can also search all your e-mails in Outlook Express or the sites you have viewed under Internet Explorer. I have just installed it and am completely overwhelmed by the thoroughness of its search! This software is called Google Desktop Search and is free at the moment. (Warning: Before you install this make sure there is no sensitive file in your computer that you don't want a third party to look into or you could be in deep trouble!).

You might, like me, not want to use it as it smacks of spying but it's good to know that such a thing exists. I'm talking about this DidTheyReadIt site. When you install their program (free trial period for 10 messages), every e-mail that you send is invisibly tracked without alerting the recipient. But when the recipient reads your message, you will immediately receive information on when, exactly, your email was opened and for how long it remained opened. Well, you have been warned, better not lie about not having read the emails you received!

If you are on the broadband (ADSL or cable connection) and you do telephone friends around the world you must simply install Skype (it rhymes with "type" or "pipe"). I have tried it and it works perfectly. The only problem (if you can call it one) is that your friend should also install the same software for it to work. After that each of you will need a PC headset (preferably one that has a built-in microphone). You will plug this to the microphone jack at the back of your PC and the other one to the speaker jack (if it doesn't work try reversing the two places). Your friend will have to do the same. That's all there is to it. But make sure your friend knows what time you will be calling so he or she will be in front of the PC with the headset and with Skype active. Just imagine you can now talk the whole day to your friend at the other end of the world without having to pay a single cent (nor will he)! Yes, this program is completely free though you have to register first in order to be able to make use of it (you don't have to give all your personal details though for the profile). Oh, by the way even if your friend has not got Skype installed you can still use your Skype to phone him (not free this time) but at a much cheaper rate than the usual telecom services.

If for whatever reason you do not wish to use Skype there is another site which offers the same type of service. It is VoipStunt, the other free calls company.

If you are a webmaster you'll be interested in the following program. It checks for broken links in your site saving you the trouble of checking them one by one. It's called Xenu Link Sleuth and when you have nearly 4,000 links (as in my site) you will appreciate it even more.

If you are going to be able to listen to audio files with the .ram or .rm extension you will need to have RealOne Player installed on your system. You can download it for free here.

For easy uploading of files from your hard disk to your server: WS_FTP. I don't know about you but I personally prefer the old version WS_FTP95 which you can download from this site.

For the easy conversion of .wav files to .mp3 files or from .mp3 files to .wav or .wma files (in order to be able to burn your own CD song albums) download this free program Free Mp3 Wma Converter. Make sure you click on "Free Mp3 Wma Converter" as it has a number of other software that is not free. It also works the other way round i.e. if you need to convert .wma files to .mp3 in order to be able to listen to them in your .mp3 player.

A similar program that is also free is dBpowerAMP . Click to download.

Similar types of program are: mp32wav and CDex.

For movies and other bigger files the place to go is BitTorrent. Forget about this if you don't have a broadband connection.
WARNING: With so much talk about court prosecutions going on, use all the above peer-to-peer programs at your own risk!

If you need to rename a file you know that all you have to do is to right-click on the file's name then click on Rename. But what happens if you need to rename 50 or more files or change all the extensions from .htm to .html? It's going to be a real hassle! This is where the Ant Renamer comes in very handy.

If you are looking for a software that enables your hard disk to return to the state it was in at any time in the recent past (i.e. before your computer got into trouble), Norton GoBack will do the job. It can also recover deleted or overwritten files, even those emptied from the Recycle Bin. However it is not free. But if your OS is Windows XP you don't have to go to pay for this service. You can restore your PC to its previous state when everything was working perfectly by going to Start - All Programs - Accessories - System Tools - System Restore - Restore my computer to an earlier time - Next then choose your restore point.

To prevent getting viruses through e-mail or when downloading .mp3 and other files : VCatch

As I mentioned above my own preference for a good anti-virus (that is also free) is from Grisoft. However, if you would like to try another anti-virus there is AVAST which can be downloaded free for personal use only.

But even if you have no anti-virus program right now or if the one you have is out of date you can have an on-the-spot scanning of your hard disk by going to Secuser.

The SpyBot Search and Destroy has established itself as an indispensable programme to remove all the uninvited guests in the form of adware (or spyware) that have already found their way to your computer (what you see on the right is my own share of spyware today!). Go here to learn more about how to make use of SpyBot Search and Destroy.

A similar type of product which is equally good (and equally free) is Ad-Aware. It has now an Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition which is even better as you will not only be protected from known content, but will also have advanced protection against many of their unknown variants. In my own case I use not one but both the above programmes (Spybot and Ad-Aware) because quite often one of the two programs misses out what the other finds and vice-versa so it's necessary to run one after the other.

TrendMicro's HijackThis is a tool that lists all startup items and default start pages. It will allow you to inspect and remove (by checking) selected items.

What? Still having problems after trying the above three programs? Well try this one then: CCleaner (the first C stands for Crap)

For faster downloading (it splits big files into parts then downloads them simultaneously), try Star Downloader which can also resume broken downloads - a great relief if the connection is lost when the file is already 99% completed!

To break a big file (more than 1.4 Mb) into smaller ones in order to copy them to your floppy disks: Filesplit

Are you receiving lots of spam or junk mail? Are you receiving lots of e-mail with files attached from people you don't know? Then you must absolutely install this wonderful little program. It's called MailWasher and it's free. It can bounce back unwanted e-mails so it looks as if your email address is not valid. It can also delete unwanted e-mails from your server before you download them. The man behind it is Nick Bolton, a New Zealander. COOL!!!

Have you saved all your e-mails from Outlook Express in a CD Rom only to find that you are not able to re-read them as they carried the extension .dbx? Download this little program OutLookExpressExtraction.zip created by a French programmer by the name of Macallan and you will be able to recuperate all your old e-mails. AWESOME!!!

Many crackers or hackers (click here to see the difference) will install a "backdoor" which allows the cracker to "remote control" your computer over the internet. To prevent this from happening, especially if you are connected to Internet on the broadband (ADSL, cable modem, etc.) for hours on end, it is indispensable to install a firewall. One of the best is called ZoneAlarm by Zone Labs. You can download the Basic Version for free here.

If you have unlimited access to your Internet connection why not turn your PC into an international radio station to provide you with continuous music or up-to-the-minute news while you surf? You won't realize how simple and effective it is till you download   Viddi Radio Player   and see (or rather hear) it for yourself!

Where your antivirus is helpless in the face of an attack by a "trojan horse" (a program that appears desirable eg. when you download a free game but which actually contains something harmful such as a little program that erases every file in that directory) you have to resort to a program such as Trojan Remover. You can download a free evaluation copy here but it's only good for 30 days - enough to let you get rid of the trojan worm?
If you can't afford to pay after the trial period is over but are still bugged by a trojan horse you could try a similar program with much the same functions. It's called Tauscan and is also good for a 30-day trial period.


If you are looking for a particular software to download try one of the following sites:
Download CNET

The three sites that follow allow you to send colourful ecards to your friends but I have been hesitant about using them lately because they have a tendency to follow up by sending publicity stuff to you and your friends:
For sending virtual greeting cards for Special Occasions (Birthdays, Get Well, New Babies, Sympathy, Thank You), Romantic or Holidays (Christmas, New Year, Mother's Day, Valentines, etc):
Yahoo! Greetings
There is another site specializing in providing free e-cards but I do NOT recommend it as it is a sure source of malware (especially to the one receiving it). But if you still want to take the risk it is called 123greetings. And if you do not wish to receive any publicity stuff from them make sure you UNTICK the part that says "I'd like to receive newsletters, special offers, etc" (yes, it has been ticked by default so make sure you look around a bit before clicking on the SEND button).
Oh I have to make an exception for Hallmark ecards which are perfectly spam-free. It used to offer free ecards at some time in the past but it now charges $12.00 a year for this service. You can send any number of such ecards during the 12-month period so it works out to only $1 a month for unlimited sending of greeting ecards for birthdays, Christmas or New Year and many other occasions.
Another similar site to Hallmark is Jacquie Lawson. It has ecards for all occasions and does not spam you. The price to pay for this service plus peace of mind is the same as for Hallmark i.e. USD12.00 a year for unlimited sending of greeting ecards to your friends.

To get a text (maximum 150 words) or even a web page translated into another language online for free click here (Babel Fish Translation). The languages are: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Russian and Spanish.
Its principal rival is Systran. Here, it gives the two texts side by side so you can check for any wrong translations (inevitable in the case of idiomatic expressions). Of course there is always the Google Translator which you can find on the left vertical menu of every page on this site.

Do you want to know the full name, address and telephone number of anyone in the world? You'll probably be able to find it here: White Pages International Sites. You only have to type the name of the person, the city where he is in and the name of the country. But if you can't find it here do not despair, try this other site: Infobel . If you are staying in France (it's true for some other countries but not all) you can even go one better. By typing in just the telephone number you will be able to know who that number belongs to and the address of the person. To do this click on "France" then "White Pages" then "Reverse Search".

To look up an encyclopedia you can choose between Encyclopaedia Britannica (most articles are not free) and Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia or Encyclopedia.com (all articles are completely free).

To consult maps of any country in the world online: Atlapedia.

The best of the free online English dictionaries are:
(i) Dictionary.com
(ii) Freedictionary.com
(iii) Onelook Dictionary Search
For American English it's best to look up the famous Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

For answers to medical problems

For answers to computer problems

For answers to anything under the sun go to allexperts.com. It's unbelievable - all the volunteers there just waiting to answer whatever questions you might have - and all for free!

To ask your question in full as you would put it to a friend Ask Jeeves

To send an e-mail postcard of your favourite singer, etc. (it's free): click here

To keep in touch with happenings in the internet world: .net magazine

If you are looking for a particular driver: