I know there are hundreds, if not thousands of list of Windows “free software” on the web. But every time I read one of those lists, I usually find one or two applications which I wasn’t aware of previously. So I figured that one more list couldn’t hurt. People like lists. There will obviously be a lot of things that you have seen before, but I’m sure some of you will find some new gems to try. This is by no means a complete list of Freeware. I am only adding software to this list that I’ve used and determined to be worthwhile. Many of these applications may fall on the “geeky” side, as I mainly do IT consulting.
And now, in no particular order:
Spiceworks – Spiceworks has become an invaluable tool in my IT consulting arsenal. Spiceworks allows you to scan an entire network and get an inventory of all assets (software and hardware) in a particular environment. Great tool for auditing your infrastructure.
Launchy – Launchy is a free windows utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. A true time saver.
FileZilla – Filezilla is the best FTP/SFTP/SCP client I’ve found. Works great and has a ton of features. If you are a web designer or a network tech and interact with FTP on a regular basis, you should be using this tool.
Putty – I use this little application about as much as my web browser. If you need to log into linux systems or networking gear, putty will do what you need. Putty is hands down the best SSH / Telnet / Serial / Rlogin client for windows.
Firefox – You should already be using Forefox. If you aren’t you probably shouldn’t be on the internet.
CDBurnerXP – CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. Also allows you to burn and create ISO images. Better than Nero.
ImgBurn – Another CD / DVD burning application.
TrueCrypt – If you do not currently encrypt your important data, you are at risk. Everyone should utilize encryption for their sensitive information. Encrypt your confidential documents and even your thumb drive with this handy security tool. Newest versions allow you to encrypt your entire system partition and protect your drive with pre-boot authentication. Protects your data when traveling internationally as well.
Sysmetrix – Sysmetrix is a skinnable clock and system metering application. Its purpose is to provide system metrix in a variety of interesting, useful, and cool ways. It can monitor and report on hundreds of statistics.
Yahoo Widgets – Spruce up your desktop with yahoo’s powerful widgets. Many styles and community submitted widgets to choose from. Get the most up-to-date information on your desktop.
TweakUI – Free Microsoft PowerToy gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more.
Virtual Desktop Manager – Another Microsoft PowerToy that allows you to manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar. Because you always need more desktop space.
VLC – VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. VLC can play virtually any multimedia format I’ve tossed at it. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast on a network.
Veoh – Veoh client allows you to download online videos as well as watch streaming TV shows from major networks such as Fox and NBC. I don’t have cable TV anymore because of applications like Veoh, Joost, Hulu, and Miro.
Joost – Joost is another application allowing you to watch free TV Online.
Miro – Miro is a free application that turns your computer into an internet TV video player.
InfanView – Useful for converting images and a great photo browser.
Azureus – Java based BitTorrent client. Great for downloading LEGAL software *wink & nod*
Spybot S&D – Best tool for finding and removing spyware and other things on your computer that might violate your privacy. Should be used in conjunction with a good anti-virus application such as ClamAV below.
ClamAV – ClamWin is the Windows version of the popular ClamAV. One of the best free anti-virus choices.
tftpd32 – Tftpd32 includes DHCP, TFTP, SNTP and Syslog servers as well as a TFTP client.
The TFTP client and server are fully compatible with TFTP option support (tsize, blocksize and timeout), which allow the maximum performance when transferring the data. Must have tool for configuring network equipment.
WireShark – Wireshark is the world’s foremost network protocol analyzer, and is the de facto (and often de jure) standard across many industries and educational institutions. Use this tool to help diagnose networking issues and configuration.
UpdateStar – UpdateStar is the program that lets you stay up-to-date with all of your personal software. Whether it be Freeware, Shareware and commercial software products, UpdateStar covers all of your software. UpdateStar knows more than 80.000 software products and lets you know once an update is available for you. No more wasted time searching for important software updates. Will notify you when updates are available, and provide you with links to download the updates.
KeePass – KeePass is a free and open-source password manager / safe that will store all of your passwords securely. Allows you to encrypt your password database to provide added secure protection.
CrossLoop – CrossLoop’s underlying technology was created to simplify the process of securely working with others located in different physical locations across diverse network environments. CrossLoop enables you to see the screen and control the mouse and keyboard on a remote computer. It is as if you are working side by side at the same PC. CrossLoop is a powerful productivity tool that enables you to quickly collaborate with anyone in the world. Also allows Tech to provide remote technical support.
NetStumbler – Use NetStumbler to view all 802.11 wireless signals in range. Will provide you with signal strength monitoring allowing you to establish a stronger signal. Very helpful in doing site surveys and wireless network troubleshooting.
Skype – Make calls from your computer — free to other people on Skype and cheap to landlines and cell phones around the world.
VMware Server – VMware Server is now free to all. Allows you to run multiple virtual operating systems on a single server. Technicians can also use VM’s for testing new configurations. Consolidate multiple servers into one, save money on hardware and electricity costs. Make it part of your own “green computing” initiative.
UltraVNC – There are many versions of VNC clients and servers. I happen to like UltraVNC the best. The client has good options and the server is able to serve to many different types of clients. For those who use windows mobile devices, UltraVNC provides good options.
TerraCopy – TerraCopy can replace the standard windows copy. With TerraCopy you can pause and resume file transfers, copy files faster and it has good error recovery. If you find yourself transferring files over WAN shares TerraCopy is a must have.
SysInternals – The Sysinternals Troubleshooting Utilities have been rolled up into a single Suite of tools. This file contains the individual troubleshooting tools and help files. Whether you’re an IT Pro or a developer, you’ll find Sysinternals utilities to help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose your Windows systems and applications. Sysinternals Suite is a must for any admin or technician’s tool-kit.
MediaCoder – MediaCoder is a free universal batch media transcoder, which nicely integrates most popular audio/video codecs and tools into an all-in-one solution. With a flexible and extendable architecture, new codecs and tools are added in constantly as well as supports for new devices. MediaCoder intends to be the swiss army knife for media transcoding.
Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP) – This is the best video codec pack I’ve found. With CCCP you’ll be able to play virtually any type of video file.
XChat – XChat is an open source windows IRC client. Replacement for mIRC. If you like kickin’ it old school on IRC, this is your client of choice on windows. I suggest EFnet. Don’t let the name fool you, there is plenty of Eris on EFnet.
Orb – Orb is so freaking awesome, I don’t know where to start. Orb will allow you to stream the media on your desktop (or server) to any device connected to the internet. I know that is a big statement, but its true. Want to stream your movies and music to your PDA? No problem. Want to watch your movies at work? No problem. So if you have a big media collection, you need Orb.
7zip – Handy little application for zipping and unzipping files. Ability to handle many formats.
Daemon Tools – If you are like me (and if you aren’t, you should be) you back up your important CD’s to .iso images. Daemon Tools allows you to mount those .iso files to a virtual cdrom on your system. No more wasted time and money burning CDs.
Notepad++ – Notepad++ is an advanced text editor replacement for notepad.exe. It even has syntax highlighting.
WinDirStat – WinDirStat gives you a visual representation of the files on your hard drive. This map will help you locate files you have forgotten aobut, or data that can be erased. Handy tool for auditing the file system of your PC
Pidgin – Pidgin is a multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Replacement for all of your different IM clients.
Handbrake – Convert your DVDs to Mpeg4 for use in your portable devices.
Audacity – I use audacity to edit my own ring tones from .mp3 files.
DVDshrink – Burn backup copies of your DVDs with DVDshrink.
Mobile 3GP Converter – Use this handy program to convert videos shot on your cell phone (in .3gp format) into .avi files which you can then upload to various video sharing services such as YouTube.
nLite – nLite is a tool for pre-installation Windows configuration and component removal at your choice. Optional bootable image ready for burning on media or testing in virtual machines.
With nLite you will be able to have Windows installation which on install does not include, or even contain on media, the unwanted components. Use nLite to build your own custom Windows installation.
SysPrep Driver Scanner – If you use SysPrep to build standard installation images, you should use SysPrep Driver Scanner. Makes the process of building drivers into your install simple.
Unlocker – Unlocker allows you to “unlock” files that are in-use. Ever try to delete a file but have windows tell you that it is being used? You can now delete any file with Unlocker.
Siginet DriverGrabber – This application will scan your computer and copy all of the drivers installed to a separate directory. No more hunting around for drivers after you reinstall windows, just run the DriverGrabber and you’ll have all of your previous drivers. Also a handy tool for making so-called Universal Images (with programs such as Ghost) including drivers for different types of hardware. Use in conjunction with the SysPrep Driver Scanner above to include paths for the drivers.
Google Desktop – If you have tons of data spread across multiple drives, computers, and email accounts you need Google Desktop. Google Desktop will index all of your data and allow you to search for the information quickly. No more hunting around for documents or previous emails.