Free lunch programs 

“Nothing is ever free,” the saying goes, so just how “free” can ”freeware” really be? The word “freeware” describes a software program offered online as a free download. “Open Source” is another name for free downloadable software, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Turns out, if you’re willing and able to dig around on the internet to find what you need, there is a huge variety of useful software available to download at no charge. You’ll want to steer clear of anything named “shareware,” however; unlimited access to these programs usually entails fees and website registration.

So, is there a catch with freeware? Well not with genuine freeware programs in and of themselves. When you Google the term, however, you will be inundated with thousands of websites all offering databases listing freeware programs. Unfortunately, many of these sites want you to become a member — a process requiring you to hand over personal contact information, such as your email address, which will often result in a flood of spam in your inbox. In other words, the catch lies with these freeware collection sites rather than the actual manufacturer of the product, who is genuinely giving away the software at no charge — ever.

There is a way around the database collection game, however, while still making use of these sites’ aggregate systems to facilitate your searching. By viewing the various freeware programs they have listed, you can decide what you are interested in and then Google the actual program name to find the programmer’s website. From there, you can easily — and freely — download the freeware program to your computer. There are even a few freeware database sites where you can readily access this information at no charge:

1) — A wonderful site offering both completely free program downloads and proprietary software programs they offer to registered members. The site specifically differentiates the paid downloads from the free and gives very detailed descriptions on each program.

2) — Another great website offering a huge collection of online freeware available for instant download. Most every software program listed is downloadable from this site.

I was very surprised by the amount and wide variety of free software programs offered. Utilities, programming software, office suites, developer tools, and more are there for the download. Some of the best freeware programs I found are:

1) — A Microsoft-compatible office productivity suite featuring a word processor with spell-check, as well as web publishing, spreadsheet, graphics and presentation programs.

2) Spybot: Search and Destroy — The best free anti-adware and spyware tracker and removal program available. It instantly notifies you of a threat and eliminates it.

3) AVG — A very good anti-virus program available to protect your computer from unwanted intruders and malicious programs. It would work nicely with the Spybot program to keep your computer virus and spyware free.

4) Download Accelerator Plus (DAP) — The most popular full-featured download management program available. Features easy handling of multiple download connections, privacy tools, and security programs, all while increasing the speed of downloading files from the internet.

5) POP Peeper — A handy freeware program that notifies you when have an email on any of your POP-enabled accounts. If you’re a multi-tasker like me, this is a needed and valuable resource to keep track of all your email accounts in one spot.

For once, something really is actually free, and it’s not a marketing ploy. Finding them may take you some time and effort, but there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of programs offered on the internet that are truly freeware — no strings attached.



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