Ask dotTechies: What is your favorite freeware software?

In the huge world of software, there is a huge difference between paid-for software and freeware software.  However, in each realm there are massive, headache-inducing numbers of choices and qualities.  Free software is probably the second most popular thing to review on dotTech–there are 135 articles on them as of the time of writing this!  After all, free things are a lot of time really great (although some times, they’re just worse as opposed to being bad).   Today, I ask you on Ask dotTechies, what is your favorite piece of freeware software?

If I had to choose one or two, I’d say that my favorite would have to be either GIMP or Firefox.  With GIMP, it’s like I don’t have to pay for Photoshop (although it is completely different in how you use it, it has the same basic functionality if you spend enough time learning it)! However, without Firefox I’d have to use Google Chrome or another browser.

Like the two of the last three Ask dotTechies, there is no poll for this thread; rather please share your input via the comments below: what is your favorite piece of freeware software?

Share this post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Steph

    I use these free and open source programs every day, and find them indispensable:

    Apache Server
    Google Apps
    Google Gears
    Karen’s Replicator

    I use all of these frequently as well:

    Adobe PhotoDeluxe (ancient but still useful)
    AnVir Task Manager (thanks dotTech!)
    Auslogics Disk Defrag
    BBC iPlayer Desktop
    Foxit Reader
    Glary Utilities
    Google Chrome
    Google Earth
    Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
    Primo PDF
    Revo Uninstaller
    Visual Color Picker
    XMedia Recode

  2. Josh

    @Philippe: I agree that it would save time if the purpose of the program is very briefly stated, as all of us do not share the same interests or needs. It means you have to spend time searching for info about various programs named in the posts, only to find that it falls in a category that is not of interest to you. The program names are often somewhat obscure and do not offer a clue as to it’s purpose.

  3. Philippe

    Hello  every one.
    With all the software named here, I wonder sometime for what are those softwares useful.
    If those software are not in the category of almost known by every body like CCleaner or similar. It would be nice to give a small indication of is utility, and as some do putting the link of it.
    Thanks, that was just a little thinking from a lazy guy.

  4. Jharel

    @RobCr: JDownloader is specifically designed to handle those file upload sites like megaupload, rapidshare, and a lot of others. If you do not download from those upload sites then JDownload is still good to have but those sites are what I use the program for. Many sites in Europe and Asia use those upload sites to store files referenced from message boards.

  5. RobCr

    Thanks Locutus, for the list.
    That allowed me to see that no one has recommended Puppy Linux LiveCD
    For those looking to try Linux, painlessly, you must try it  –
    – It loads into memory(small memory usage), and runs from there.
    – The CD can be removed, and the CD drive is available whilst still in the session.
    – It easily identifies, and ‘Loads’ (shows) all the internal and external drives.
    – It is a friendly OS to use (for those lacking Linux experience, eg me).
    – When you are getting used to it (playing with it), and fine tuning it (or adding programs), you can RETAIN ALL of that.
    As you exit your session, it offers to save it ALL for you, and all you have to do is plug in a thumb drive, and it will create the file, that will remember all of your settings, etc.
    Even those that hate the thought of Linux, will love it.
    It is Brilliant.
    I would go for version 4.3.1
    There is a version 5 out now, called Lucid, but I suspect it is still a wee bit beta.

  6. RobCr

    I have Orbit downloader installed.
    I was attempting to download a difficult to get video, and that was why I installed Orbit.
    Recently I was downloading some really large files for a neighbor.
    They were going to take many hours, so I canceled, and right clicked to tell Orbit to handle them. They downloaded in 25% of the time (4 times quicker).
    I guess that ability is available in JDownloader
    Could you elaborate a bit more on the other benefits of JDownloader

  7. RobCr

    @A. S.:

    You snapped me out of my procrastination, when you said –
    I was going to swear, profusely.
    But I didn’t have to,  because you will find there is a link at the bottom, where you can go back (in jumps of 50) to earlier postings.
    But you do raise a good point –
    It would be great if someone could build up a grid, with programs across the top, and post numbers down the side.
    That way we can firstly check the totals at the bottom, and then work down the list to read comments(find their post number)  that the members made.
    Would be nice if the most popular programs’ columns were starting from the left.
    If that is too daunting, to build in a web page, perhaps an excel spreadsheet could be available for downloading.
    Rob (aka Lazy Bas…d)


  8. A. S.

    Hi Ashraf,

    Is there any chance you could post a list of some of the programs people have mentioned?

    Foolishly I didn’t make a note of those that others have mentioned and now the first 100 posts have been removed.

    I always discover great programs when you ask people for suggestions.


  9. Jharel

    People must not download from those file storage sites a whole lot otherwise they would mention JDownloader.

    With JDownloader, you never have to directly mess with those file sharing site links again while downloading (stuff like Megaupload, RapidShare, etc). It has a database of hundreds and hundreds of those sites, updated regularly. I love the program. I download game mods (mostly driving sims) and other types of files that are shared on those types of sites (karaoke) and JDownloader makes it really easy. It automatically monitor those “countdowns” for you, and even prompts you for passwords and capchas. It’s just an awesome program- Download files off fileshares would be so fussy without it.

    Another program is Fences, the free version from Stardock. It did wonders for the desktop for my HTPC. Cleaned up all those icons and made the desktop attractive and functional. My friends kept asking me how did I “made the icons do that” or “is it another operating system” after seeing it. When you arrange things correctly with Fences, everything looks good and works great on the desktop.

  10. Vivek Krishnan

    Freeware is a frequently misused term and could mean different to different people.
    Freeware, in my opinion, is free software (preferably within a GNU public license), and ..
    * should  not be a crippled trial/demo
    * there should no nag screens
    * definitely no adware/spyware/scumware
    * it must have decent features which users would love and would not mind paying a few dollars to support the developers of the freeware for their excellent (and often undervalued) efforts!
    The freeware that I definitely can as my favorites are th0se free software that I use the most often due to their inherent strengths, or are innovative and unique to stand out from the crowd of s0-called freeware.
    And without further ado, here’s my must-have list (no particular order, just grab them all):
    Microsoft Security Essentials
    Firefox, G00gle Chrome, IE8, Maxthon
    Open Office
    Secunia Personal Inspector
    FileHippo Update Checker
    Format Factory
    Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
    SysInternals Suite (especially Autoruns and
    Spyware Blaster
    Revo Uninstaller
    ZSoft Uninstaller
    Google Picasa
    Partition Wizard
    Total Copy
    jv16 Powertools Lite
    Lookout (Outlook Search plugin)
    Agent Ransack
    Foxit PDF Reader
    Hitman Pro
    Free Download Manager
    VMWare Player
    SIW (System Information for Windows)
    Allway Sync
    xplorer² free
    Peerblock & uTorrent
    Nirsoft Utils

  11. amozai

    I like those ones most:-
    1. VLC
    2. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
    3. Puran Defrag
    4. Firefox
    5. Clean Mem
    6.  CCleaner
    7. REAL Player SP
    8. Revo Uninstaller
    9. Skype

  12. Rob

    Allway Sync

    Fast and smart file/folder/disc synchronization
    and I love the portable version – great for flash drives and it’s fully functional for use sychronizing your hard drive folders without any installation.  Lots of options.

  13. jfjb

    First, I get the choice between Ubuntu (installed via Wubi) and WinXP (with Emerge Desktop shell, and built-in add-ons MS forgot)
    And then, on top of my head:
    Comodo Firewall, Avast!, Spyware Terminator, Ad-Aware, Spyware Blaster,  Spybot, MalwareBytes, HijackThis, NetMeter, PeerBlock
    FireFox + Google apps
    ThunderBird + Lightning
    OpenOffice + WordNet, Lingoes + o3Find WinGUI
    Erunt, cCleaner, CodeStuff Stater, Revo, Recuva, Sysnternals collection
    HotKeyP, Q-dir, Everything, Syncback, MozBackup, 7-zip, WinCDemu
    VLC, xnView, ImageSorter
    Are we there, yet? More later. . . . (wink)

  14. jaiyen42

    In no particular order – except alphabetical:
    – CCleaner
    – Deflaggler
    – EASEUS Partition manager
    – FastStone Viewer
    – FormatFactory
    – ImgBurn
    – Iobit’s ASC
    – JV16 Tools
    – Returnil
    – Revo uninstaller
    – VLC Player
    – WinDirStat

  15. Joji

    100th commenter! :D
    1. Win Utilities
    2. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
    3. Puran Defrag
    4.  Google Chrome
    5. Clean Mem
    6.  Ccleaner
    7. REAL Player
    8. Revo Uninstaller
    9. Vista Switcher
    10.  Winsplit  Revolution
    …and 15 other programs or so. :P

  16. Steelers6

    Wow so many to choose from but here are some of my favs
    1.  LastPass
    2.  Revo Uninstaller
    3.  Avast Antivirus
    4.  Tera Copy
    5.  DropBox
    7.  KeyScrabblers pro is best if you can afford
    Vidimo Se!

  17. Andrew

    @Jon: Accelman is now indeed free, you have to register but it is free to do so . Its a good file manager that doesnt get the popularity or recognition it deserves IMO, very customizable and nice looking too… As for AVS, maybe VLC is better I dont know I never tried VLC, Ill check it out though…Theres a paid version for Gardens and Plants but theres a free version too which shows some ads but they will be blocked with Privoxy for example. Of course theres other freeware I use (like Privoxy) but I tried to come up with programs that wouldnt get mentioned by others for this list.


    Hmm…. Here we go

    Maxthon Browser 3.0 (Beta)
    East-Tec Eraser 2009
    WinUtilities Pro
    Everest Ultimate Edition
    AnVir Task Manager
    MyDefrag v4.2.9
    Universal Extractor 1.6
    FastStone Capture
    WinX DVD Copy
    WinX HD Video Converter
    SWF & FLV Toolbox 4
    Soundbase (Music)

    Thats some of em… Theres more ^^

    Cheers /

  19. Josh

    @blue: You’re on the nail! Agree that the reg cleaner is the main reason for using JV16. I even place the JV16 shortcut in the reg tools folder, not system suites, for that reason. Other apps mentioned by you are also really great. Thanks for the links!

  20. Grantwhy

    favourite: MegaMek (java based game that does a very good job of converting Battletech to a computer :-)
    most used? probably Firefox portable (it’s surprisingly handy to be able to take “my” internet with me :-p )
    most appreciated? Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware because I’ve used it to get some quite nasty/annoying off other peoples computers with little difficulty
    honourable mentions:  CCleaner, MyDefrag and TeraCopy (the ease of using the copy older files only is something I’ve found very handy for moving file onto/off USB memory sticks)

  21. Jon

    @Andrew: Not all of the software you listed is free (I’m pretty sure). AVS Media Player appears to be free, but I noticed a registration page on that product’s homepage (I believe it is for registering other products, though). Also, Accelman is not free (according to CNet). How would you compare AVS to VLC?

  22. Jon

    1.[Security Tools] Avast Anti-Virus (as well as AVG and Avira (which I got the premium version to free, which has already expired) to compliment it), Spyware Terminator, ThreatFire, and WinPatrol (I use WinPatrol Plus because of the 99¢ offer)

    2.[Web Browser] Mozilla Firefox (and Netscape as my backup browser; Google Chrome is nice, so is Opera; I would NEVER go back to using Internet Explorer)
    3.[Archiving and Unzipping Utility] 7-Zip (and IZArc and Peazip to add to it)
    4.[PDF Reader] Foxit Reader
    5.[Registry Cleaner and Useful Tools] CCleaner / Advanced SystemCare (I got the PRO version for free)
    6. [Word Processor] OpenOffice.Org / IBM Lotus Symphony
    7.[Screen Capture Tool and Screen Recording Tool] PicPick and Camstudio
    8.[Image Viewer] XnView
    9.[Video and Music Player] VLC Media Player (and DivX Plus)
    10.[Image Editor] Paint.NET (and GimPhoto (based on GIMP) to help out)
    11.[Email Client] Mozilla Thunderbird
    12.[Download Accelerator] Download Accelerator Plus (DAP)
    13.[Remote Access Tool] LogMeIn Free
    14.[Programming Tools] Notepad++, Komodo Edit, and
    15.[Virtual Machine Software] VMWare Player (and sometimes VirtualBox to do other tasks that seem difficult with VMWare Player or crash VMWare Player)
    16.[Remotely Running Programs] Spoon
    17.[Firefox Addons]
    [Useful Tools] Adblock Plus, Nightly Tester Tools, FEBE,
    Custom Buttons, Fast Dial, Tab Mix Plus, ScrapBook,
    [Security] WOT, Finjan, McAfee, LinkExtend,Toggle Private Browsing, Phishtank SiteChecker, NoScript (Usually I have it set to “Allow Scripts Globally”, I just let it block some scripts after that, that are called something like “ABE” scripts)
    [Web Developer] Colorzilla, Web Developer, Toggle Web Developer Toolbar, Firebug
    [Others / Toolbars] BugMeNot, 404: File is Not Found ? Now it will be!, Anonymouse Toolbar

  23. Andrew

    AVS Media Player
    PDF X-change (PDF Viewer)
    Accelman (File Manager)
    Soulseek (p2p)
    Gardens and Plants (plant/tree database…not for everybody but a good idea for those who need it)

  24. Norma

    Oh, wow, where do I start?
    1st. Moffsoft Free Calc, no doubt about it.  I’ve used this since Windows 98 (now using it with Windows 7).  I like the feature that shows the “tape” so I can go back and check numbers, in case I entered a wrong figure at some point.  Also, I can print out my calculations. They also have a shareware version that includes a lot more features, but the simple freeware version is enough for me.
    2nd.  FastStone Capture for capturing screenshots, part or full.
    4th PDF Xchange Viewer – works in my browser where Adobe refused to co-operate.
     5th. AllFive XP – nice little yatzee game….free of course. This also goes back to Windows 98 and works nicely on Windows 7.

  25. o(o.o)o

    Open Office
    FastStone Image Viewer/ XnView
    FastStone Capture (last freebie version)/ Pickpick
    PDF-Xchange Viewer
    K-lite Codec Pack
    MyDefrag/ Puran Defrag

  26. lol768

    Irfanview, Picassa, GIMP,, faststone photo resizer
    Video Editing:
    Foobar2000, itunes, VLC, Klite codec pack
    Notepad++ with

    Jedit, Eclipse, Bluefish
    How to find these:
    Type the name of the software that you want to download/look at in the textbox on the following page and click the search button :)

  27. wskt

    some of mine are:
    Avira AntiVir Personal, PStart, NetWorx, Anvir TaskManager, Firefox, Foobar2000, MP3tag, CCleaner, Auslogics Disk Defrag, Revo Uninstaller, USB Safely Remove, File Menu Tools

  28. Cornflower

    Limiting myself  to that which I use every single  day, as well as Firefox and OpenOffice,
    Horst Schaeffer’s MemPad.  It is MY database of everything that doesn’t fit into more structure, small and portable.
    Horst Schaeffer’s Reminder.exe. A portable reminder that I autoupdate every time I insert or remove my USB stick.  It is the only one that easily does “every third Wednesday” and things like that.  It has all my non-office appointments, birthdays, date to call for next tetanus shot in a few years, etc.
    Voidtool’s Everything. Still t he best.  Only need it to recognize my external network drive, and, …
    PicPick. Okay, not exactly every day, but I have thrown out so many other tools when this came along, it ranks right up there.

  29. Pier

    There are so many, some of them  i use almost every days
    xplorer2, everything, FARR, filemenu tools, dexpot, supercopier, clipboard help & spell, truecrypt …
    usdownloader, utorrent …
    notepad++, pdfcreator, Open Office, foxmail
    Image: Fsviewer, photo filtre & Xnview
    video : vlc player, handbrake, subtitle workshop,
    audio : winamp,radiosure,  mp3tag and thegodfather, mp3directcut
    ok it’s enought!

  30. Mr. J

    Google Chrome
    MalwareByte (though there is a paid version, I am still very content with the free version)
    RAD Video tool
    VLC Player
    Paint .NET
    Open Office
    and finally, LaTeX, it protected my life from the hellfire of typing math equations, and for free!!!

  31. blue

    Maybe the better question is the favorite freeware that most are unlikely to know about. For that, my 1st BoB (Best of Breed) award goes to Zsoft Uninstaller. You can find it here
    Revo uninstaller might get the buzz, but Zsoft Uninstaller (IMHO) takes the prize. Not only does it seem to find more detritus than Revo, it also has a before/after comparison similar to its payware competitors.
    My 2nd BoB goes to Powertools Lite the freeware reg cleaner version of JV16 Powertools. I can see why Macecraft doesn’t hype this because (IMHO) the reg cleaner in their payware version is the only real reason to use that program and it is (pretty much) identical to the freeware version. Why there hasn’t been more buzz about it elsewhere is surprising to me.
    My final BoB goes to Antilogger Virtual Keyboard from Network Intercept
    It’s your run-of-the-mill virtual keyboard; except that it’s not: Try using it on one of the keylogger tests ( has one) and you’ll see that it defeats the test. So, don’t ALL virtual keyboards do this? Nope. Most do NOT, as a matter of fact. And while others (such as Kaspersky) offer payware that do this, this is the only freeware that I know of which works. Moreover, while there are other freeware keyscramblers designed to defeat keyloggers, this is the only one that works on all types of programs (the Keyscrambler freeware only works on your browser). Why would you want this? Keyloggers are pesky critters that can compromise your system and are very difficult for anti-virus programs to find. This is a nice added protection.

  32. Ivan

    Find and Run Robot (FARR) … by far ;)
    Firefox, athough I’m using PaleMoon instead
    Media Player Classic
    Shark007 codecs
    Revo Lite
    Avira (free edition ;))

  33. phoenix_rising

    @Brian: Thanks for the heads up about Scribus. I wasn’t aware of this product and it looks great. I’m downloading as I write this …
    @ Everyone: Thanks for all the ideas. I’m finding some really interesting progs.
    I’ll add a few more: ImmunetProtect, KeePass, MyDefrag, TeraCopy, WinSplit Revolution, TouchFreeze, SpywareBlaster, Notepad++ (probably been mentioned), Lingoes, KeyScrambler, Gigaget, Geswall, FastStone Photo Resizer, Paint.NET, EULAlyzer, Connectify …
    Sorry if there’s any double-up.

  34. LA-dude

    It’s hard to pick just one above all  but I will list my favorite for every category  and that would be: Bonkenc Audio Encoder, VLC Media Player(for videos), J. River Media Jukebox(for audio), CCleaner, Avidemux,  AnyVideoConverter, FastStone Image Viewer

  35. Brian

    Lots of good suggestions previously but one that hasn’t been mentioned is StudioLine Photo Basic:
    For image management it’s excellent.  It also includes a good range of image editing functions.  I liked it so much I upgraded to the paid version but most people will probably find the free version sufficient.
    A couple of others:
    Scribus – desk top publisher
    Dropbox – 2 GB online storage but can also be used to host a website
    Gramps – family history

  36. Capt. Nemo

    This is a tough one.
    Obviously everyone could have said Firefox, but I’d go for : Everything (by It is the fastest indexing system ever. Other than that, WinPatrol, CCleaner,Notepad++, Paint.NET (instead of GIMP which is slower).

  37. Kane

    I’m running Win7 x64 and if I had to pick one I’d say Find and Run Robot or Search Everything…. probably FARR.  Once you spend a bit of time configuring FARR, you’ll never go back to Launchy or whatever launcher you use.

    Macrium Reflect is by far the best free disk imaging program in my opinion so I’d have to give it an honorable mention since it saved my rear yesterday.  Superfast in both backing up and restoring your OS partition and once restored, it’s ready to run.  I used to use DriveImageXML until I discovered this gem.
    These are the rest of my faves that I always have available on a new install:

    * 7-zip
    * AquaSnap (why MS didn’t include the ability to snap 8 ways I don’t know but on a big monitor, it’s a necessity)
    * FileMenuTools
    * Firefox (I can’t believe this didn’t get more picks) – I’m using the Namoroka x64 build v3.63 right now and it’s very stable and handles all the extensions I use… I don’t need flash often anyway.
    * MediaMonkey
    * Notepad++
    * Peerblock & uTorrent (don’t use one without the other)
    * Prio (process priority saver… just started using it but like it a lot)
    * Sandboxie
    * Avast!
    * ZoneAlarm Firewall (I know there are more aggressive firewalls but this one does the trick painlessly)
    * ImgBurn
    * MagicDisc – this iso mounter covers more formats than the rest
    * ShadowExplorer – I don’t know many that use this but check it out
    * Spybot
    * SpywareBlaster
    * Stickies (by Tom Revell)
    * UltraVNC – gotta check on my kids computers periodically
    * SmartDefrag
    * VirtualBox – I don’t know if it’s as fast as the others but I’ve had a lot fewer problems with this virtual machine
    * WizMouse (but I wish Pitaschio would be updated for Win 7 x64 because I loved that sucker)
    * Q-Dir (man I love this)
    * Malwarebytes Scanner
    * HitManPro Malware Scanner – does a quick boot-up scan
    * FolderMenu 3
    * Taskbar Extender – just discovered this but love it.
    * Various Nirsoft Utils (nircmd and myeventviewer are probably my faves)
    * Autoruns & Process Explorer by SysInternals
    * CCleaner
    * TrueCrypt
    * FreeFileSync (if you haven’t tried this, you need to)
    * Recuva

    Ugh, I guess that’s a few more than one.

  38. alan

    OpenDNS – used – not installed – should I call it Cloud computing ! !
    My ISP had severe network problems a few days ago
    I was not affected by hardware breakages;
    I could still PING to any destination IP number,
    But 70% of my bookmarked site names could not be resolved to an IP number by the ISP provided DNS.
    Within 5 minutes of switching the router to OpenDNS I had normality.
    Installed software :-
    Comodo to protect me from the Internet !
    Q-Dir ; A file explorer with simultaneous view of four (Quad) folders, allowing simple drag and drop copy/moving between any two, with two to spare for other purposes.

  39. Mongoplus

    I have several favorite programs:

    Sysinternals Process Explorer
    Sysbot – Search & Destory

    There are some many freeware programs out there that it can be very hard to choose the best ones.

  40. Dm

    I use a lot of freeware, but will pay for programs I will use a lot if they seem better than the freeware. So my freeware favourites are ones which I use all the time and think are better than all of the competition (free and paid).
    First is Opera (plus Chrome & derivatives).
    Next is AbstractSpoon’s  ToDoList.
    And TrueCrypt.
    Then CircleDock.

  41. Shava Nerad

    <resists getting into a definition rant among freeware, free software, and open source>
    GIMP, the Photoshop replacement, has got to be my favorite open source free software, although I probably use OpenOffice more.  These are not only essential and free, but easy and fun to use, dead useful, and have a great support community around them — and unlike Firefox (probably most used in terms of hours per week) GIMP and OpenOffice are great on performance and memory footprint.

  42. Tom

    lets see, free software that I enjoy most – cause I use them a lot and they work well at what they do:
    ~ FARR (launcher plus plus but still light weight. Donationware.)
    ~ GridMove (moves/resizes/manages windows)

    then there’s some apps where I use the paid version cause I liked them so much (XYPlorer, FileHamster, Avira Anti-Virus. I think the latter two may have annoying popups though in the free version)

  43. J. L.

    My whole computer is full of freeware..
    Not a payware in site (or any software / games warez, I’ m not dumb).
    As for favourites.. Not really a fanboy of anything, will change any of them if needed.

  44. Philippe

    I like OPERA as first browser,  Seamonkey, FireFox Chrome,
    As other: OpenOffice which is taking more power in EU for schools and business. Some AV MS Essential, Immunet, Clam AV,
    Graphic soft: Paint, Picassa, and one of the best (for me) CutePDF
    And other: CCleaner, Revo, Puppy linux, etc…
    Each software has something good for a special use.

  45. meldasue

    – RICOlmer (  ) – this is a task reminder, and that’s all it does, so it’s very light on system resources.  Everything else I’d tried, with the exception of Outlook, would drop tasks if they weren’t done or if the computer wasn’t on when they came up, and since this is a program that needs to run in the background, it has to have a small footprint.  I use it to remind myself to pay bills.

    – Pazera Free Audio Extractor ( ) – this extracts the audio from just about any video format and outputs it in the audio format you choose.  You can also select the start and end time of the extraction, and it’s lightweight, so it opens in seconds.  I’ve got a ton of video/audio software, from freeware to purchased editing software, and I use this one most often.

  46. OldElmerFudd

    Firefox – Irfanview – yes, absolutely.
    Still, two little programs I use every day that make my computing easier are  Tolvanen’s Eraser (now for deletion and Lars Herderer’s ERUNT for registry backups.

  47. alain

    Hi dotTechies ,
    my favorite one is definitively MOZILLA FIREFOX (& thunderbird) !!!
    You can customize it the way you like with thousands of plug-ins and themes , it’s fast and secure and easy to use ; my top freeware .
    FIREFOX , what else ?

  48. Tom

    Another vote for Irfanview, prehaps my most used utility for over 10 years and it just keeps getting better.  It is the instant-open viewer that also handles over 90% of my image editing needs.   Just be sure to load the Plugins.

  49. Mags

    Wow which is my favourite freeware, I have many.  Some have come and gone, others I still use and plan to keep on using.  It is a hard decision.
    However, while reading the posts and thinking about which is my favourite freeware, Agnitum Outpost Firewall kept popping into my head.
    It was one of the first free software programs that I used and that was over 10 yrs ago.  It was the original freeware version and stood the test of time up until Win XP.  It sort of worked but just wasn’t as good.  Then they finally updated it and I started using it again in Vista and on my XP machine.
    Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me in Win 7 so I’m patiently waiting for their next update.

  50. IndoMK

    I think either GIMP or WinRoll.  I *love* being able to right-click on a titlebar, and roll the window up.   I use it a lot in conjunction with GIMP, it allows me to get those pesky side windows out of the way.

  51. chuck

    No doubt Win Patrol is a “must have”,but to pick just one is impossible.If you’re a software junkie like myself,then Revo is indispensable.Free (or paid for that matter) doesn’t always equal good.Dr.S.-you don’t have to avoid the reg cleaner,you just need to scrutinize the entries before you elect to remove them.An old saying is “look before you leap”! As for reg defrag-that’s a crap shoot no matter who wrote the code or slapped their company logo on it.

  52. JohnD

    Definitely CCleaner.  I use it at least once a day, more likely several times a day to clean up the crap that I accumulate.
    I would have said WinPatrol or xplorer2, but I liked them so much I paid for the upgraded version.  Winpatrol has the best licensing format I have experienced, you buy it once and you can use it on any and all computers that you own forever.

  53. Sujay

    Don’t know what not to mention.
    CleanMem, Unlocker, 7Zip, AxCrypt, TeraCopy, Chrome, VLC, Format Factory, Sublight, CCleaner, Puran Defrag, Qyicksys Regdefrag, Revo Uninstaller, Secunia PSI, Winpatrol, VirusTotal Uploader, Hijack Hunter, Macrium Reflect, Sandboxie, Trusteer Rapport, VMWare Player, FDM, KLite Mega Codec Pack, OpenOffice, WordWeb, doPdf, PDF Exchange Viewer etc etc….
    Hard to find a single one. May be FDM.

  54. RobCr

    @phoenix_rising: “Dick Defrag”? Sounds painful ….
    I think we add that to our TOOLS collection

    PicPick for screen (etc) snapshots
    Jarte for a non MS Word program
    EditPadLite for a Notepad replacement (has Tabs for multiple file openings)

    XYPlorerFree for Tabbed replacement for Windows Explorer
    Do a Google for
    xyplorerfree last free version
    Do not surround with quotes
    It is the first hit at The Portable Freeware Collection
    Do not be put off by their (Portable’s) mention of 30 Days.
    That only applies to extra features in the Pro version.
    Trust me, you will never use Windows Explorer again.
    Get in quick as it is hard to find.
    (I checked the link, and it is still the freeware version)

  55. MikeR

    A seemingly easy enough question, but not so easy to answer as it requires separating out ‘favorite’ freeware (like, for instance, IrfanView) from ‘essential’ freeware (like, for instance, Avast AV.)

    Coincidentally then, my vote is the same as Annie’s at #5, and for all the reasons she gave: it’s freeware at its most effective / essential, but also — thanks to little ol’ Scottie — freeware at its most endearing.

    Bravo,  Winpatrol.

  56. annie

    WINPATROL.  No contest, it is an essential piece of software.  It has several utility functions, but it really shines at prevent software from changing your settings, and from setting itself to start up every time Windows starts.
    And who can resist the system tray icon – Scotty the Wonder Dog, who woofs politely whenever a piece of software tries to alter your system settings.


    WinUtilities Pro! AVOID THE REGISTRY CLEANING FUNCTION INCLUDING THE REGISTRY DEFRAG and every other function is superb! I like my PC to be neat and orderly and the “Dick Defrag” is something UNIQUE! Beats–> Piriform Defraggler,Auslogics Defrag,JK Defrag by miles!

    It is a winner! Thank you Ashraf!

  58. Adrian

    My favourite freeware is Folder Size. It lists out the size of all the files in a folder added up together in an additional column in Explorer. If I miss it, I’ll die. Pity it doesn’t support Vista or 7.