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Best Free Software

Posted by on May 22, 2009

I came across a PC Magazine article from a year ago (yeah, I’m a little bit behind on some reading) and it talked about the best free software that people can download. I thought that I’d comment on the stuff I know about here, and if needed, provide a link to it.

The first thing it talks about is Adobe Reader, and I’m not providing a link to that because, by now, everyone who needs it knows how to get it. But I have to say it’s a marvelous program, and unless you need to create forms that you can input information into, it’s all you’ll ever need for pdf files.

Firefox; well, who doesn’t love Firefox as a browser at this juncture? I hear they’re doing some interesting things with Chrome, and IE 8 was just released, but for my money, Firefox is still the champ (okay, it’s free, but you know what I mean).

Thunderbird, from the same folks as Firefox, is the only email program I’ll ever use. It allows multiple email accounts, and if you have multiple SMTP or POP servers, it’ll take those also. Message filters allow you to set it up to go to different buckets; sweet.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition – you know, I’m going to have to waffle on this one. I love the anti-virus blocking, but sometimes the program goes hinky and won’t update on its own, and you end up having to figure out how to get the update from the website; that’s irritating. I also don’t like how, if you decide not to use everything with it, you get this exclamation point in the taskbar that makes you feel like an idiot. I use a program to screen my email; I don’t really need AVG doing a follow up check on it. Still, it’s not bad.

Comodo Firewall. I have to say that it’s pretty good, although, if I had to be truthful, I’d have never switched if Zone Alarm had come out with a 64-bit version. When I was having problems with that one client’s computer and that stupid virus, it blocked its access to the internet while I was working on it, and I appreciated that. However, I think the uninitiated user will get confused by some of what it does.

Zone Alarm – Man, I loved this program as a firewall. It worked like a charm, and I never had any problems with it. Well, I did have one problem; whenever I needed to update it, there were some anti-virus programs that it wouldn’t play well with unless I unloaded them, loaded Zone Alarm, then loaded it back. Since it seemed like they updated once a month, that was tiresome. But it worked.

Sunbird – this is a calendar extension that you can add onto the Thunderbird email program. If you want a standalone, go to the same site and look for Lightning, which works like MS Outlook’s calendar. Truthfully, it looks great, but I have so many other calendars on the computer that I haven’t used it in months. But it’s a nice extension to have if you don’t already have a good calendar program.

CCleaner – this neat little utility will clear all kinds of stuff off your computer. To be fair, I ran it on my old computer while trying to fix it and it took some stuff out of the registry that kept the computer from booting back up for a long time. Of course, that was the old computer. Since then I’ve used it on my laptop and my client’s computer, and in both instances it made them run much faster.

Google Desktop – man, this was one great program, and I’m really upset that they haven’t updated it for 64-bit computers. It goes through your entire computer and reads files, including your email, and then if you’re trying to find something you referenced at some point you can pull up Desktop and it’ll find it for you. Of course it sometimes had problems indexing Thunderbird, but I wrote about a fix for it that seemed to work wonders. I miss this one greatly.

Yahoo Widgets – this nifty little thing is something that Vista and Google have tried to copy, but instead it gets on my nerve. Yahoo Widgets allows you to add as many little extras to your desktop to give you whatever information you’re trying to get. I don’t have any icons on my wallpaper, but I do have two widgets right now, one for the weather and one for my clock. I used to have a bunch more, but I wanted my desktop space free.

This is as far as I’m going for now; there’s plenty more to come, so stay tuned for the next post.

Need Software Fast? (moving)

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Out of that bunch I have only ever used Firefox, AVG and Adobe. Thunderbird sounds interesting. Does it handle spam and what the hell is a bucket? I always thought it was something you stick a mop in or you kick when your time has come.

May 22nd, 2009 | 9:23 PM

Man, Aussie’s are literal! lol With Thunderbird, if you have multiple email addresses, you can create an account for each of them. Then you go into the message filters and set up the criteria so that, when you download all your email, it goes to the account you want it to go to. Each one of those could be considered as a “bucket”, which can also be defined as “something set up to collect”.

See, always educating you, my friend. 😀

May 22nd, 2009 | 9:29 PM

And you Yanks have such a way with words 😀 How about spam filters? I’m using one with Outlook and it’s works pretty well.

Sire´s last blog post..A Twitter Service You’d Be Crazy To Miss Out On

May 22nd, 2009 | 9:38 PM

Yes, it’s got a spam filter that you can also add to, but they call it “junk” instead. I don’t worry about it, though, since I use Mailwasher before I download anything.

May 22nd, 2009 | 9:46 PM

So I take, because it wasn’t in your list, that you had to pay for Mailwasher?

Sire´s last blog post..Using Comments To Double Your Exposure

May 22nd, 2009 | 10:38 PM

Let’s just say that Mailwasher isn’t a free program and leave it at that.

May 22nd, 2009 | 10:42 PM

Hi Mitch,
I’m generally skeptical of things that claim to be “free” but in this case I think these programs really are!
I love Firefox. Period.
I used to love AVG, and used it for years. But for the last month I’ve had serious browser problems (slow, and yes, Firefox) that I thought might be a virus. Based on a few blogs I read, I uninstalled AVG, and installed Avast (it has a free version too). It found a dozen viruses that AVG didn’t, and it found the culprit. My problem is solved, and I am now an Avast anti-virus fan, at least for now… 🙂
~ Steve, the trade show guru

Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..No Pets Allowed

May 23rd, 2009 | 10:19 AM

Good review, Steve. I’ve never tried Avast, so I couldn’t add it to my list. There really is a lot of good free stuff; nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

May 23rd, 2009 | 11:05 AM


First, thanks for your help with nofollow-PR issues a few posts ago.

I like this list of free software. Though, myself, I think I would have put iTunes on it — I think it is an excellently done program.

May 23rd, 2009 | 5:28 PM

No problem, Ramsey. As for me, I don’t use iTunes, so I couldn’t comment on it. Come back tomorrow for part two of free software commentary.

May 23rd, 2009 | 6:14 PM

That’s a pretty good testament, Dennis; thanks.

May 24th, 2009 | 10:30 PM

AVG antivirus and CCleaner are my top two favorite free softwares, Mitch! Honestly, I depends on these software too much, and I couldn’t imagine, if it disappear from the internet…

May 26th, 2009 | 2:29 AM

They’re both pretty good, Wil, and I’m with you on both counts.

May 26th, 2009 | 8:58 AM

Hi Mitch have only tried Firefox, Zone alarm and AVG which are all very good and have just downloaded Mailwasher to give it a try. Missed the last 2 weeks of posts as have had some viruses on my machine I just couldn’t get rid with AVG or the usual malware tools. Some Free tools for you to note if you get any problems Avira antivirus, got rid of the viruses AVG didn’t, Malwarebytes, HijackThis and SUPERAntiSpyware. A combination of these helped me to get rid of the nasty beasties on my machine.

May 27th, 2009 | 3:45 AM

Hi Khaled. Actually, I wish I’d known about your computer issues. A free program you can download is called Combofix; I had to download it when I was working on the computer of one of my web clients, and it’s the only program that was able to get rid of his one persistent virus that just kept mutating. I’d go ahead and download it and run it if I were you, just to make sure your computer is safe.

May 27th, 2009 | 7:57 AM

Cheers Mitch
Just downloaded and going to give it a try. have to close all browsers and anti virus, so will disconnect lunch time and run it then.

May 28th, 2009 | 6:09 AM

Let us know how it works out for you, Khaled. Course, if it finds nothing, that’s good news.

May 28th, 2009 | 11:15 AM