I recently reread an article at PC Mag, The Best Free Software, and decided to update my list of favorites. Here are my favorites:
Although I do not have any complaints about their favorites I do not use them. I have used AVG in the past and it was good and stable. I prefer the commercial vendors for virus checking. My favorites in this category are KeePass and TrueCrypt.
- KeePass is a password manager that stores the passwords in an encrypted file and via a hotkey will automagically fill in the correct userid and password for the site based on the title of the web page. If the title is not unique KeePass will present a selection of userids and passwords that match that title. If you login to a lot of secured sites this is a time saver and allows you to use long, random passwords.
- TrueCrypt allows you to create a virtual disk that is stored on your disk drive as an encrypted file. This virtual disk will gracefully dismounts whenever your laptop hibernates or goes into standby mode. I use this virtual disk for my QuickBooks files and other sensitive data.
I like their selections in this category, too. I regularly use Notepadd++ and WordPress. Open Office is a nice package but Microsoft Office make my life so much simpler when I work with people who use Microsoft Office who are not technically savvy.
- Utilities & PC Management
I use both FileZilla and Foxit Reader in this category. Foxit Reader is faster, requires less disk space, and does not need to be installed. I recently installed Foxit Reader on my server because it takes up a lot less disk space and does not need to be installed. Both the free and professional version of Foxit Reader allow you to markup Acrobat files and print the marked up files. I use this feature for filling out rebate forms. The professional version allows you to save the markup data. My other recommendations in this area are PDFCreator and Portable Apps.
- PDFCreator is a simple way to create Acrobat files. PDFCreator creates a virtual printer when you install it. When you print to this virtual printer it creates an Acrobat file. This is a great way to create and send Acrobat versions of reports via email. I recently installed this program on several computers at a nonprofit so they could create Acrobat versions of their monthly reports.
- Portable Apps is a repackaging of several free software packages into a portable format. In my case I keep several programs I use infrequently on a USB drive. The Portable Apps format allows me to “safely” evaluate and use open source programs without mucking up my windows registry. The list of programs that I have on my USB drive include:
- 7-Zip Portable
- Audacity Portable
- Clamwin Portable
- FileZilla Portable
- FireFox Portable
- Gimp Portable
- KeePass Portable