10 freeware programs essential for my computing life

Although many of us may experiment with new programs regularly, all of us have a core set of programs that we need to have installed on our computers at all times; …otherwise armageddon proceeds. In this article I am going to share with you 10 freeware programs – out of my bucket of “core” programs – that are essential to my digital life; without them I would – simply put – be lost.

(Note: This list is in no particular order.)

CleanMem is quite possibly the best memory cleaning/optimization program I have even encountered. Not only does it (usually) clear up a good chunk of memory, but it works in such a way that users have no idea CleanMem is running. It does its job – with leaving little to no footprint on your computer –  and gets out. Brilliant program.

Some may disagree with me when I say it, but Firefox is the cream of the crop when it comes to Internet browsers. Needing no introduction thanks to its hard earned fame, Firefox is a package which brings everything to the table: speed, efficiency, addons, security, and aesthetics. Sure Firefox is not the “best” in all categories but it is the best jack-of-all-trades out on the market right now.

Digsby is an instant messaging platform that allows users to integrate different instant messaging services, e-mail checking, and social network usage all in one program. Think of it as the desktop version of Meebo.

When it comes to screenshotting programs, there are tons of (free and commercial) choices people have. Ever since I started using FastStone Capture a couple of years back, I have fallen in love with the program. It is easy to use, feature filled, and has this lovely floating toolbar most other screenshot programs lack. In fact, everyday dotTechies enjoy the fruits of FastStone Capture’s labor – all screenshots on dotTech were taken using the program.

WinSplit Revolution is a program that allows users to easy resize/tile program windows. Although the concept of the program may not sound too flashy, in practical uses this is man’s best friend when doing any sort of work (that involves more than one program window) on the computer. Oh how many times I have counted my blessings for being able to use WinSplit to ease my pain when doing projects such as transferring data from source to spreadsheet.

Windows’ clipboard is possibly one of the worst designed aspects of Windows. Sure the idea of having a clipboard which can be used to copy/cut/paste stuff is nice, but there was a huge lack of hindsight into how there may be a conflict caused by the inability to copy/cut/paste multiple things at once. To help resolve this conflict, many programs have popped up. TenClips is one such program; TenClips gives users the ability to have 10 different clipboards. However, I find myself using TenClips’ ability to post purified text more than making use of all clipboards. In fact, I hardly ever post unpurified text anymore thanks to TenClips.

Most programs, when uninstalled, leave traces – such as registry entries or files – behind on your computer. RevoUninstaller is a program who’s goal is to help you perform “clean” uninstalls by removing leftover traces from uninstalled program; and RevoUninstaller has passed the test of time proving it truly is one of the best – if not the best – clean uninstaller out there. I don’t know what I would do without Revo.

WinPatrol is a nice little “supplement” to your computer’s line of defense. More or less, it is a computer “change” monitor; it monitors your computer for changes to things like file associations, startup programs, etc. and notifies you of the changes, asking you to either allow or disallow the change. It is extremely handy especially for people who install new programs on a regular basis. I can’t count how many times WinPatrol has saved me from programs that try to hijack my homepage.

Anyone that has ever worked with code knows how hard it can be to keep track of everything. Notepad++ is a program that aims to help deal with code in an easier fashion; it color codes code syntax for users. So while it may not be an idle platform to write a program, it makes editing code – such as for a website – very easy. I use it almost on a daily basis.

Once upon a time I used to use WinZip for my archive needs. Then I discovered 7-zip and never looked back. 7-zip is an open source answer to the likes of WinZip and WinRar. 7-zip allows users to work with archives, including .ZIP and .RAR formats, opening them, creating archives, etc. It even has its own .7z archive which far surpassed the likes of .ZIP and .RAR in areas like compression and security.

So you have just read a list of 10 programs I could not live without. I am sure you have some of your own. Feel free to share in the comments below.

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