Freeware and Useful Programs


Freeware programs are produced by developers as practice or as a hobby.  Many of these are very good and often perform the same functions as programs that cost hundreds of dollars.

Shareware programs are produced by individuals as a means to allow one to "try before you buy."  In general, the cost of these programs can range from a few dollars to hundreds depending upon the complexity of the tasks they perform.  Some shareware is completely functional and will work properly for a given trial period, while some is only partially functional.

A quick word of caution - Always be very careful when downloading software from the internet.  While most programs are perfectly fine, many may contain spyware or even computer viruses.  It is worth a bit of extra time to protect your computer by installing good antivirus, antispyware and firewall software, all of which you will find links to here on this page.  Also, you may be asked to supply your name and e-mail address in order to download.  If you are hesitant to do this (and you should be), the easiest way to circumvent the problem is to give a fake name and address such as (this is a real website that was designed by security-conscious programmers as a "honeypot" to trap spy software programs).

Freeware sites     The number 1 site for open-source, freely distributed software on the internet.  You might have to dig, but you can probably find just about any software you might want at this site.      Gibson Security Website.  You need to visit this site to test the security of your computer.  Many good security downloads here.

Essential Programs for Your Computer

Belarc Advisor-  This HTML file gives you a complete run-down of everything on your computer, including istalled hardware, software, recent updates and software keys.  If you haven't got a handy place where all of your software activation keys are located, you will not be able to re-install programs should you have to restore or rebuild your computer's hard drive.  This program will allow you to print out all of this essential information as well as that concerning the hardware manufacturers so you can find new drivers should you need them.  A must have.

Zonealarm- An excellent firewall for every computer system.  This program is easy to set up and will block hacker attempts to contact and control your computer.  You really need a firewall for your system, regardless of whether it is at home or at the office.

AVG Antivirus- Everyone needs a good antivirus program.  This is one of the best and it is free!  AVG can be set up to automatically update and run.  Updates are free, unlike the majority of other antivirus programs.

Winpatrol- This is a nifty little program that can sniff out spyware, trojans and any web site that tries to alter your computer.  It can be set to automatically block in coming cookies from sites that try to download trackers on your system and will inform you if a program is attempting to change your registry or startup.  It can show you all of the programs running on your system and can shut nonessential background programs down.

Microsoft Antispyware- This was originally Giant Antispyware but was acquired by Microsoft.  It works very well at sniffing out any form of spyware on your system. The program is currently free and will update automatically. Two more good choices for removing spyware are AdAware and Spybot - Search and Destroy

Regscrub XP-  This program cleans your registry, removing left over entries from uninstalled programs.  If you use it regularly, it will help keep your computer running quicker and more efficiently.

CoffeeCup Free FTP -  This is a File Transfer Protocol program.  It enables you to transfer your own HTML pages to other sites, such as the academic server.  If you become proficient at building new pages for classes and other purposes, this is the easiest program I have found to get the job done from your home computer.

DBackup - You need a good backup program to insure that all of your files are available in case your computer crashes.  You should make and keep at least three backups of your files and update them on a regular basis.

CDBurnerXP Pro - A good CD and DVD burning program should not cost an arm and leg.  This free program is comparable to Nero, the most popular commercial burning software.  I have both, and this program is just as useful.

GIMP - General Image Manipulation Program.  GIMP is an excellent image manipulation program with features found in very expensive packages such as Adobe Photoshop.  It supports many plug-ins and can be used both as an art program and for image file manipulation.  This link will allow you to download a Photoshop front-end for the program.

SimpleOCR - This is a free Optical Character Recognition program.  You can use this program with a scanner to convert scanned text to true text files you can then edit with your word processor.  While no OCR is 100% perfect, a good program like this can really get you out of a trouble spot if you can't find computer files of an essential nature (such as exams), but you do have hard copies.

Open Office - Don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on software such as Microsoft Office?  This is an absolutely free office suite, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation maker.  It is compatible with MS Office, so you can easily swap files between the two.  This is a very large download, so you will want to use a broadband connection to get it.

ScreenPrint 32 - If you want to capture an image from your computer screen for use in class presentations or to build instruction pages, this is a good program to have.  You can immediately send anything from the screen to your printer or save the image for later manipulation and use.

Ultimate Zip - This is a file compression program.  Often programs you download are in zipped (compressed) format.  Programs such as WinZip are commonly used for expanding these files, but once again, they are shareware and can be expensive.  Ultimate Zip is free and will uncompress most formats.

Password Safe - If you are like me, you have many passwords for the various web sites you visit, such as e-mail and bank sites.  It is very easy to forget these.  Password safe can keep all of these in an encrypted format and will even generate new complex passwords for you.

Wink - This program allows you to capture the computer screen and then build flash files that can be uploaded to your web site.  You can easily make tutorials for your students to teach them to use programs such as Blackboard.