This is the beginning of what I hope will be a useful collection of links to top notch free software.

Stuff I personally use / stuff recommended by reliable sources

My Personal Top Ten (alphabetical)
Ad Aware... Audacity... CCleaner... DVDflick... 8Start

Firefox... Spybot... SyncToy... VLC player... Winpatrol
 

Security Apps Firefox Other Apps

Ad Aware 2007 - one of the classic anti-malware programs gets a significant revamp and is still free for personal use.

Ashampoo Firewall - well known software company Ashampoo have made their firewall free for personal use.

Clam Anti-virus - another reputable free anti-virus scanner

Spyware Terminator - offers real-time spyware protection as well as a useful scanner and pretty interface

Spycatcher Express - another spyware scanner to add to your toolbelt.

SensiveGuard - a free firewall to help lock your PC up snugly.

Ewido trojan scanner. It finds malware that other applications don't. It installs the "plus" version but after the trial period it reverts to the free one without any hassle.

A-squared is another malware scanner. The thing with malware scanners is that they each find things that the others don't. So you need more than one to be safe.

AdAware and SpyBot - they will scan your system for spyware, adware and other malware which could be compromising your privacy and slowing your system. If you've ever installed a file sharing program or other dubious application you're probably infested with crap.

WinPatrol - a great little utility which tells you everything that is running on your computer. You can see what loads when you boot up, what runs even when you think you're no using it and if you have the same problem I did with Messenger 4.7 STILL running even after I've upgraded to 6.2 this will let you stop it once and for all.

CCleaner - says it is short for "Crap Cleaner" which, if they mean they remove crap from your computer as opposed to it being a crap piece of software, is exactly what it says on the tin. And does. It quickly and efficiently removes useless files and pieces of junk.

Microsoft's Anti-Spyware tool - Another new spyware detection and removal tool.

ZoneAlarm - the highly regarded firewall which is free for personal use. Anyone who doesn't have a firewall is a FOOL and must get one. You wouldn't buy a house without doors would you?

AVG Anti Virus - like a firewall, anti-virus software is essential. AVG is free for personal use but you can upgrade to the pro- version if you really like it. Remember to keep it up to date against the latest threats.

SpywareBlaster - Another way to stop malicious and intrusive software from furtling its way onto your computer.

Netscape 8 - the latest browser and potentially the best. An impressive mix of style and security.

Firefox - the best browser for the PC. If you're using Internet Explorer then you should change to Firefox. It is better in every single way. There are some fantastic "extensions" on the website too - plugins which add extra special features like ad blocking and stuff.

Firefox is the best browser for the internet user who wants something that is secure, that is cool and that works. But the Firefox browser is only the beginning - there are hundreds of ways to improve this already awesome application. Here is my list of fantastic add-ons, extensions, customisations and other stuffs.

Firefox - your key to the latest release.

Thumb Strips - lets you browse your history using thumbnails so you can quickly find that great site you were on an hour and a half ago but whose name you can't remember

Tab Effect - adds a cool 3D transition when switching between tabs

Site Adviser - sits in your status bar and tells you if the site you're visiting is safe or not (also rates Google search results before you even click the link)

AdblockPlus - an extension which lets you block any and every advert cluttering up your favourite pages.

IE View - there are some pages which don't work in Firefox due to lazy scripting and the dominance of Internet Explorer. This lets you right click any page and choose to open it in Internet Explorer.

Scrapbook - lets you save a page in a side-panel for later use. Very useful for research or just to prevent reloading the same pages every time.

Customise Google - adds extra features whenever you use Google. Such as offering the same search in different engines or removing "paid" search results.

Download Status Bar - monitor your downloads with the status bar instead of checking a separate window.

Nuke Anything - simply highlight anything on a web-page and click "remove object" to remove the highlighted text, graphics or frame. Ideal if you print web-pages and don't want to waste ink.

Stumble Upon - Don't know what to look at online? Bored of all your favourites? Stumble Upon does the surfing for you and you just get great stuff to look at.

Brushed - a theme which lets you give Firefox a Safari makeover.

Tab Mix Plus - it makes tabbed browsing even better.

FasterFox - tweaks Firefox to make it even faster

Download Them All - lets you download multiple files from a single webpage

Remove It Permanently - right-click on items to remove them from webpages - useful for frames, adverts, banners, HTML features, GIFs and lots more - if it can be seen it can be removed.

UnPlug - download YouTube videos and other embedded media files.

Broadband Speed Test - Firefox plugin which will tell you how fast your broadband connection really is

 

The full range of extensions and themes can be found by clicking on the right word.

 

(new) Free Easy CD DVD Burner - a simple and reliable tool for burning things to CD and DVD

iPod Music Transfer - copy music back from your iPod to your PC with this two-paned toy

Net Vibes - another Web 2.0 application which puts all your favourite feeds on one super-useful homepage

Zoho - an ONLINE office suite which lets you create, save, edit and import/export documents from any computer

Icon Sushi - make your own Windows icons from any image file

Album Maker - join MP3s into single files AND reverse the process - losslessly organise your Big Finish CDs into episodes

TV Browser - a free TV guide - tell it the channels you like and it will download programme details for the next week or two

Google Map Ripper - lets you join, download and otherwise save Google Maps for off line use

MP3 Renamer - if you have folders of unnamed MP3s, this app will query the CDDB for you and treat the folder as if it was a regular CD

Ashampoo StartUp Tuner -  remove unwanted programs from the various Start-up folders and speed up your PC

Safari - Apple's celebrated browser comes to the PC so now there is absolutely no excuse to still use Internet Explorer.

MobiPocket - an excellent e-book converter and reader for mobile phones. Turns Word, PDF, HTML and text files into bookmarkable e-books for your phone or PDA.

8start - a brilliant and pretty program launcher (screen shot of my own) which is a lot faster and less cluttered than your actual Start Menu.

Google Calendar - not strictly freeware - though it is completely free - but rather an online calendar which you can access from any computer and which will send you text message reminders of your appointments.

PowerBullet - create Flash presentations and stuff.

DVD Flick - this is awesome. This is what I've been searching for for months. A simple, reliable, free converter which lets you burn proper DVDs from AVI (and other) movie files.

uTorrent - torrents made easy, reliable and efficient

FlashGet - a download manager which is useful to have

Efficient MP3 Converter - a batch audio converter - ideal for encoding large numbers of files at the click of a button

WallMaster - change your desktop wallpaper automatically with this little app

BiMP - perfect for batch image processing (renaming, resizing etc)

MP3 Joiner - join lots of small MP3s into one big MP3 with this MP3 joiner.

Vista Transformation Kit - make your XP computer look remarkably like a modern Vista PC without all that messing about

RM to MP3 Converter - convert Real Media files to MP3

WMA to MP3 Converter - convert Windows Media files to MP3

Core FTP - the easy to use FTP client that I use easily

iPod Video Converter - convert windows videos to iPod compatible MP4 files

Serif Photoplus 6 - Full image editing package

Serif PagePlus SE - Desktop publishing application

Serif Draw Plus - Vector drawing. Whatever that is.

Serif 3D-Plus - Create 3D images and animation

Serif WebPlus 6 - Produce webpages and sites

Grisbi - Personal finance made easy with this home accounting software

Inkscape - A free drawing application to rival Freehand or Illustrator

Celestia - take a trip round the solar system with this space emulator

Flyakite OSX - make your Windows PC look and feel like an Apple Mac with this OSX emulator.

Folding@home - become part of a global super computer researching cures for cancer, Alzheimer's and other diseases.

Gloodle - Good for creating strange textured backgrounds. Pointless but fun.

ArtRage - a fun painting app which lets you add some interesting effects to your artwork

PDF Creator - create .pdf files for free from any application with this excellent plugin

JDisk - a fantastic little tool which shows you which files and folders are taking up your disk space. Perfect for anyone who has filled their drive and doesn't know how.

SyncToy - an utterly wonderful backup tool which was exactly what I wanted and which is buried deep in the Microsoft website. Impossible to find without a guide and impossible to do without once you've tried it. I love this program.

Alt-Tab Replacement - a Microsoft app which replaces the standard Alt-Tab switching with something a little more useful. Scroll down the page (and check out the other PowerToys) for the download.

PlacesBar - a fantastic little thing which lets you change the icons on the left side of an XP open/save box. (scroll down to "Method 3" if you don't want to be scared off)

Konfabulator - Widgets. Mac users get to use them as part of OX10 - "Tiger" - but now Windows users can use them too. Click to find out what widgets are.

Nvu - do you want a website? This program will help you make one.

Manic Miner - yes - that Manic Miner. Faithfully reproduced for the PC. It will drive you nuts.

Google Desktop Search - I didn't realise how cool or useful this was until I tried it. About a billion times better than the built-in Windows search system

Google Earth - satellite photos joined together to make an interactive and highly detailed map of the world.

iTunes - the best computer music player around. Available for PC and Mac it will record your CDs, let you burn compilations and you can buy from their store if you are so inclined. Better than Windows Media Player, RealOne or Music Match because it doesn't have a "pro" version to sell, it isn't bloated and it will record in MP3 format without limiting the quality.

Audacity - a free sound editor which lets you cut up and generally play around with your MP3s.

WinAmp - a legend in its own lifetime. If you want a fully customisable and skinable MP3 player then look no further. The free version won't rip though which is why I've never really used it.

DVD Capture - **MAC ONLY** - a fantastic little program that lets you take high quality DVD grabs on your Mac. Check out Ant's Fawlty Towers reviews for the evidence.

Open Office - a free office suite which is compatible with Microsoft Office and in some ways actually exceeds it. It contains a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package and drawing application.

VLC - a multi-media player which plays practically everything and is available for every operating system you could name. Go on - close your eyes and make a list. I bet theirs is longer. It's easily the best video player for the Mac as Quicktime, for all its Apple goodness, has irritating limitations.

Rainlender - a tiny but immensely useful calendar program.

The GIMP - Not as pervy as it sounds - this is a free photo manipulation program. It came originally from Linux which is why it is both extremely well featured and free. It is a little complicated to download (there are a few bits and bobs) but it is worth it if you want something to rival Photoshop but without spending several hundred quid.

Powerdesk 6 - A suite of tools which replaces Windows Explorer. Highlights include .zip management, a much better search tool than Windows XP and duel-pane file management. A pro version is available but aside from a brief nag-screen when you close it you won't be inconvenienced.

Broadband Speed Test - an excellent utility which will measure your broadband connection speed... assuming you have broadband that is. Otherwise it won't. Alternatively this is a simple, web based speed test which gives basic results without having to install anything.

Photofiltre - it's a photo editor and all round image manipulator with tonnes of filters and special effects either included or available (free) from its website.

Trillian - An all-in-one Instant Messenger program which lets you connect to MSN, ICQ, Yahoo and AIM in one simple interface. Perfect for someone who can't get MSN to work...

NetMeter - If you are on broadband and are subject to a download cap (or might be in the future (cough) NTL (/cough) then NetMeter could be the answer. It records all traffic and lets you know if you're in danger of a ticking off from your ISP.