74. Check out these freeware
By Mark Alberstat
Finding just the right piece of software for that recipe database, CD
labeler, family tree project or new website is not always easy. At your
local computer store there are often high-end, slickly produced software
packages that may do what you want but may not as well. The only sure way
of finding out seems to be buying the non-returnable software and seeing
if it meets your expectations.
Another alternative is to download shareware or freeware packages found on
a variety of websites. These software packages are often as good as, and
sometimes better, than their up-market cousins found on the shelves of
Some of the computer world's most famous programs have started from a
shareware base. Programs like WinZip, ACDSee, ZoneAlarm, and more recent
additions such as Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware, are still found
under shareware sites but may also be fully used for a set period of time
at which point you either have to uninstall them or pay the author for the
product and receive a key that makes the program functional again.
The following is a run down of some of the Internet's most popular sites
for finding shareware. Once on the site, you can navigate to the software
you want by going through large categories or by typing in keywords into
the site's search bars.
www.download.com is a busy site in
more ways than one. This one-time leader in the shareware listing
community has been changed over the past few months and now features a new
interface that has garnered some likes and dislikes. A feature on this
site that you may want to check out regularly is its list of bloggers.
Here you can find what a group of specialists is thinking about that day.
These blogs cover everything from a spyware expert to a coding fiend to a
Mac junkie whose blog is called The Mac Minute.
Another popular site is: www.softpedia.com. This is a
well-organized download site features a "Download Basket" which you can
fill up before doing your downloads. Mac and Linux users have their own
category for downloads, making it easier to find that encryption software,
oddball game or any other piece of software in the hundreds listed.
www.tucows.com is a popular site that
has been around for years but has had a facelift recently to make
navigation easier. This long-time favorite on the shareware scene has
thousands of files available and also its own rating system that is well
explained under on of the information tabs.
A download site that many computer professionals use is
This site is lesser known than the previously listed sites but is easy to
use. With this company, you can have the standard membership area that
everyone gets when they visit the site, or you can have the Nonags Plus
membership, a pay-for area that, they claim, is even safer and comes with
a list of other benefits and services.
With these sites in mind, or bookmarked for future reference, a world of
free, or nearly free software is just a click away.
The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community
Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about
computing, email email@example.com. If we use your question in
a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.
Originally published 11 December 2005