|FREE IMPORTANT DOWNLOADS|
On this page you will find links to a variety of highly recommended Essential Software that are Free-To-Download & Free-To-Use or Free-To-Download
& Free-To-Try. Most of the software listed below is Free-To-Download & Free-To-Use.
Free-To-Download means you are free to visit a website in order to download their Free-To-Use and/or Free-To-Try software from their website. It does not mean that website is paying your Internet (Telephone) Charges during that download.
Free-To-Use software is normally free to use forever or at least until the company stops its production. Companies normally distribute a Free-To-Use version of their software in the hope you will like it and then upgrade to their Paid-For version of the same software. The Paid-For version is normally better in performance and/or has extra features. Sometimes though a company, like Microsoft, might distribute a Free-To-Use version of their software for Test purposes. For example. In 2006 Microsoft Office 2007 Beta was distributed in order for people to test it for bugs (errors). The testers, known as Beta Testers, had until the end of 2006 to test Microsoft Office 2007 Beta for bugs. After that certain major features of Microsoft Office 2007 Beta would expire.
Software made for testing should have the word Beta, or Release Candidate (i.e. RC1 or RC2), attached to its name to denote it is currently in test-mode (Beta) or is almost ready for public use (RC). The benefits for the Beta Tester and RC User is that they get to road test software before it is officially released, which in the case of Microsoft Office 2007 Beta was good for Programmers and Teachers but not good for the general public - This is because Beta software in general can crash/break Windows 7 at its worst due to the amount of bugs (errors) each piece of beta software can contain. So be careful before deciding whether or not to download and use/test Beta software. When software reaches the RC stages it tends to be more robust.
Free-To-Try software is usually the Paid-For version of that software but with one or more tiny limitations. The
software could have an Expiry Date (Trial Period) limiting it for example - The software runs as the full version for 14
Days for example before switching back to the Free-To-Use (feature limited) version. Or the Free-To-Try software just
expires after the Trial Period without switching back to a Free-To-Use version.
Version Numbers. If you have ever wondered about the numbers next to a software title (i.e. AVG 17.0.93) they are the Version Number and Revision Number. The version number is normally split into the Major Number (i.e 17) and the Minor number (i.e 0). The major number stays the same until the software is re-released as a Major update (i.e. AVG 19). A major update usually means the software has had many of its problems fixed and/or had new features added to it. Whereas the minor number normally only changes when the software is re-released with Minor problems fixed, but no new features added. The Revision number (i.e 93) is normally changed when, after a re-release, the author(s) spots a problem/mistake in the software, quickly corrects the problem/mistake and then re-releases the software. So if you want to keep up-to-date with a certain piece of software it is wise to check that software's website occasionally so you can download and then upgrade to the latest version. Remember, you may need to uninstall the current software first before upgrading - See the Installing Software section for more information.
Open Source. Software known as Open Source Software means you are permitted to use the software and to modify/improve its source code as well as redistribute the software in a modified or unmodified form.
Freeware. Software known as Freeware means it is Free-To-Use at no cost, although these days some authors introduce their software as Freeware but then charge a small fee. Years ago Freeware meant Free. Depending on the conditions of the Freeware author(s) the Freeware software might or might not include the source code, and might or might not be re-distributable - You might only be able to get it from certain software vendors. Freeware can be classed as Free-To-Use (above).
Shareware. Software known as Shareware usually means it is Free-To-Use for a trial period only. During the trial period (i.e. 14 Days) some of the software's functionality might be crippled/disabled or it might be fully functioning software until the trial period has passed. Either way. When the trial period has passed the software either no longer works (expires) or some, more, of its functionality crippled/disabled. Paying a Shareware Fee will reactivate the software, making it completely functional again....for a another trial period (i.e. 1 Year) or forever. Shareware can be classed as Free-To-Try (above).
Adobe Reader 11.0
Adobe Reader is a Free-To-Use document reader (viewer) for the PDF file format. A PDF file stores its information in such a way that its contents (i.e Text and Pictures) can be Enlarged or Shrunk when viewed with acrobat reader or similar programs. And the way media and images are embedded makes this experience more enjoyable. For example. If you were to look at a Car Manual (Engineers Book) and look at a PDF Car Manual file they would look the same because of the way pictures and text are embedded. Adobe Reader has plenty of features, including Speech, to make reading a PDF file less boring. Adobe Acrobat is the software that allows you to create a PDF (Manual/Guide) file.
With many commercial companies writing their Software Manuals and so on in the PDF file format, and including Adobe Reader on their installation CDs as standard, it makes sense to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer.
Ad-Aware Free 10.1
Ad-Aware, from Lavasoft, is an Anti-Spyware protection program that is Free-To-Use for personal use. Although this personal version does not support Real-Time Protection, which means you have to manually scan your computer to see if you have any spyware problems, it is worth using it for added protection as it does do an excellent job at detecting spyware problems (with a manual scan). If you like Ad-Aware you can always purchase to the Paid-For (Professional) version.
Once you have downloaded and installed Ad-Aware do not think that is the end of the story. You still have to update Ad-Aware with an Update file, known as a Spyware Definition file. When Ad-Aware scans your files for spyware problems it is only scanning for spyware problems it knows about, using the spyware information stored inside the Spyware Definition file. So if your Ad-Aware is only up-to-date on Monday, and two new spyware problems are unleashed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you then scan for spyware problems on Friday without updating Ad-Aware it will not detect Tuesday's or Wednesday's spyware problems simply because it does not know about them. It is only up-to-date for Monday but not for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. So it is good practise to check for updated spyware definition files every day, or at least every 3 days, as spyware problems can be unleased (written) at any time on any day. Updating is required by all Anti-Spyware software, not just by Ad-Aware.
AVG Anti-Virus 2013
AVG 2012 (Free Edition), from Grisoft, is an Anti-Virus program that scans your incoming (receiving) email files for viruses. It also allows you to manually scan, or schedule a time to scan, your computer files for viruses. If any viruses are found in your email files and/or your computer files they will be quarantined (put in a special place out of harms way). AVG 8 is for personal use only and is classed as one of the best free anti-virus programs - Computer Magazines are always recommending it in their replies to Readers. If you like AVG you can always purchase to the Paid-For (Professional) version.
Once you have downloaded and installed AVG do not think that is the end of the story. You still have to update AVG with an Update file, known as a Virus Definition file. When AVG scans your files for viruses it is only scanning for viruses it knows about, using the virus information stored inside the Virus Definition file. So if your AVG is only up-to-date on Monday, and two new viruses are unleashed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you then scan for viruses on Friday without updating AVG it will not detect Tuesday's or Wednesday's viruses simply because it does not know about them. It is only up-to-date for Monday but not for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Fortunately AVG allows you to specify a time when you would like to connect to its website to check for an updated Virus Definition file - It is good practise to check every day as viruses can be unleased (written) at any time on any day. Updating is required by all Anti-Virus software, not just by AVG.
DirectX is the Windows 7 component, from Microsoft, that is responsible for Multimedia (Graphics and Sound) - It looks after and enhances your Display and Audio capabilities (i.e Effects, 3D and so on). If a Game is not functioning properly for example it could be because the version of DirectX you have installed is not able to cope with the demands of your graphics and/or audio hardware. With new hardware being released all the time Microsoft often updates DirectX, so it is important you keep your installed version of DirectX up-to-date by checking the Microsoft DirectX website every month or so.
DivX is basically a Codec (de/compressor of video/audio files) installation that comes with other video/audio utilities as well. The codec allows you to view many formats of video/audio. So if you are having trouble viewing a certain video file using Windows Media Player for example the DivX codec package might be able to help you. Other codec packages to try are:
K-Lite Codec Pack 9.5.0, Vista Codec Package 6.4.1, Ffdshow 1.2.4422 and XVid Codec 1.3.2.
Codecs are all about file formats, unfortunately, and there are so many file formats out there its confusing! Windows Media Player 11 for example cannot play certain file formats because it does not come with those codecs installed by default. Another scenario is when someone sends you a link to a video download webpage whereby you cannot view the videos, once downloaded, because your computer does not have the correct/latest codec(s) installed, that are needed to play those downloaded video files. Therefore, you have to download a codec package.
In some cases you may have to
download/install more than one codec package simply because it might only have a couple of your needed codecs inside it,
but in other cases you might only need to download/install one codec package. It depends on the video/audio file. And to
know what codec is needed might be unknown to you and the author. They might have recorded the video without taking an
interest in what codec was used to compress the final video/audio file. So you will need a Codec Viewer.
Flash Player (11.3.300.257) / Shockwave Player (188.8.131.525)
MacroMedia were the company who made ShockWave Player and MacroMedia Player - Now owned by Adobe. Basically. When you see a website using Animations and Flashing Adverts (Adverts that change picture every second or so) they were more than likely created with a Flash or Shockwave product. Flash Player is mainly needed for displaying Adverts in Internet Explorer whereas Shockwave Player is needed when playing Games and so on. My advice though, if you want an easy life, is to download both of these Free-To-Use products free from the Adobe website. Some webpages might not work properly otherwise. This is because more and more companies are using these products to promote/advertise their goods.
Click on this link: http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/welcome/ to see which versions, if any, are installed on your computer.
FastFontPreview is a Font (Typeface) viewer that allows you to quickly preview what a font looks like, which makes it ideal for Microsoft Office 2007 users and Website Programmers for example. Clicking on a font name displays information about that font and selecting a colour and/or size displays all of the fonts in that colour and/or size. The previewing is very fast.
Java SE Runtime Environment 7 - Update 9
McAfee Site Advisor 184.108.40.206
McAfee Site Advisor is a piece of software, an add-on, for Internet Explorer and Firefox users. Once downloaded and installed it rates the safety of the websites you are about to visit based on whether or not that website distributes malware and/or spam. For example. If you sign-up for a monthly newsletter, McAfee might of tested that sign-up process already and noticed that the offending website sends out more than just a monthly newsletter e-mail each month. It might of noticed spam (the sending of lots of e-mails) during that one month. If this is the case, McAfee Site Advisor will inform in the way of a colour coded shield next to each website - Your google search results for example will have a colour coded shield next to each listing. Common colour codes are: Green (Safe), Yellow (Caution) and Red (Warning: Spam and/or Malware).
Microsoft .NET 4
Microsoft .NET (Dot Net) is an engine (framework) of pre-coded modules (functions/routines) that a .net programmer can use to build an application with. So instead of writing a database routine from scratch for example the .net programmer might choose to use a database connection routine, from the .net library of pre-coded routines, instead. The benefit for you is that you have smaller applications, as opposed to applications that all started from scratch. In other words. The .net routines have been tried and tested so that the .net programmer does not have to do that much and therefore writes smaller applications. As Windows 7 already comes with .net pre-installed .net has been mentioned here just to make you aware of its existence and to link a couple of .net applications.
.NET Application: Photo Editor - Paint .NET.
Microsoft Office 2007 - SaveAsPDFandXPS.exe
If you have bought Microsoft Office 2007 this add-on allows you to save your Documents in the PDF format or XPS format. This is ideal if you create User Forms (i.e Questionnaires or Application Forms) or need to create a PDF file, for printing for example, so that your Objects do not move.
SaveAsPDFandXPS.exe is for the Office Genuine user only.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free program for Windows Genuine users that protects your computer against SpyWare, Viruses and other Malware (malicious software) in real-time (now and automatically). Over the years Microsoft has come out with similar software, such as Windows Defender and Windows Live OneCare, but security essentials has better reviews with some people claiming it to be just as good, if not better, than commercial protection softwares. Free protection software tends to get a bad press, but as AVG proves; sometimes free software is adequate enough for most people regardless if it is better or worse than its commercial rivals.
Microsoft SilverLight 5
Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack
If you have bought a computer recently priced at £300 or less it probably only has Microsoft Works installed on it, not Microsoft Office 2003 (or 2007). If this is so you can still view Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint 2003 files by installing the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint File Formats. It allows you to View and Print Word (.doc), Excel (.xls) and PowerPoint (.pptx) files respectively as well as Cut & Paste their contents where possible. Alternatively you can download the free-to-download & free-to-use office software called Libre Office which can Open, Edit and Save Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 files including .doc, .xls and .ppt files.
SpyBot (Search & Destroy), from Patrick Michael Kolla and Safer Networking Limited, is an Anti-Spyware protection program that is Free-To-Use for personal use. SpyBot can remove a wealth of spyware but its best feature is the way it can Immunize Internet Explorer. Basically, it enters the names of all its known bad websites into internet explorer's Restricted Websites Zone. This means if you go to one of the bad websites internet explorer will either inform you that the website is not good or deny you downloading rights from that website in order to protect Windows 7.
Once you have downloaded and installed SpyBot do not think that is the end of the story. You still have to update SpyBot with various Update files, including its Spyware Definition file. When SpyBot scans your files for spyware problems it is only scanning for spyware problems it knows about, using the spyware information stored inside the Spyware Definition file. So if your SpyBot is only up-to-date on Monday, and two new spyware problems are unleashed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and you then scan for spyware problems on Friday without updating SpyBot it will not detect Tuesday's or Wednesday's spyware problems simply because it does not know about them. It is only up-to-date for Monday but not for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. So it is good practise to check for updated spyware definition files every day, or at least every 3 days, as spyware problems can be unleased (written) at any time on any day. Updating is required by all Anti-Spyware software, not just by SpyBot.
7-Zip (File De/Compressor) 9.20
7-zip is an Open Source file zipper, which means it can compress (shrink) one or more files into one ZIP file and also decompressor (expand) a ZIP file. Or put another way. If you have a folder containing ten 1MB files 7-zip can compress (shrink) those ten 1MB files into one smaller ZIP file. The original ten 1MB files are left intact, untouched, because 7-zip makes a copy of those files only - It compresses the copy files, not the original files. ZIP is the File Format used.
How small is the zipped (compressed) file? Answer. This depends on the nature of the copy file(s) being compressed and other factors. For example. Has an original file (now a copy file) been compressed already with another zip program? If so, it might not be able to be compressed much more. In general though you should be left with a zip file that is half the size of the copy folders/files. So the ten 1MB files should be compressed to give you a zip file of 5MB or less.
Decompression is the opposite. One zip file is decompressed (expanded) into one or more larger, original copy, files. So you could have a zip file (also known as a Archive) that is 4MB but contains ten 1MB files. Therefore, when you decompress the zip file you need 10MB of hard drive space to accommodate the ten 1MB files.
A file zipper is good to have in general for e-mail attachments, file downloads and so on. The two main, commercial, file zippers are WinZip and WinRar but there are plenty of free file zippers out there (see the File Compression section). What ever compression program you use though they all serve one purpose and that is to make files small enough to store on a Floppy Disk, CD, Flash Disk, in an E-Mail Attachment or what ever. Years ago compression was used mainly with the Internet to cut Telephone costs. For example. You could download one small .zip file (containing 10 big text files) instead of downloading 10 separate big text files. Thus cutting the cost of the Internet call. These days though many people have Broadband and so only use compression when backing up and/or transferring their files - With .zip files you can store double, if not treble, the amount of files onto a CD for example.
ZoneAlarm, from ZoneLabs, is Firewall program that comes in a personal (Free-To-Use) version and a professional (Paid-For) version. Within your house you have so many Entry Points, known to you as the Back Door, the Front Door, the Windows and so on. All of which can be entered by a good person (i.e a Relative) or by a bad person (i.e a Burglar). This is the definition for a Firewall. It monitors the Entry Points (Ports) of your computer and disallows bad programs and downloads from gaining entry to your computer and therefore preventing an attack. It does this by following certain rules and regulations to detect if a program or download is good or bad.
Although ZoneAlarm automatically updates itself many people find the pop-up DENY Or ALLOW window difficult to master. For example. If you install AVG and then try to update its Virus Definition File zoneAlarm usually displays its DENY Or ALLOW pop-up window as it needs confirmation from you on whether to deny or allow AVG access to the internet. In this case you would Allow access as you know AVG to be a good program that is trying to connect to its AVG Server in order to carry out its update procedure. If you did not know AVG or did not trust it you would Deny it access to the internet of course. And this is all there is to the DENY Or ALLOW pop-up window.
Do you trust the program mentioned in the pop-up window or not? If yes, Allow it. If no, Deny it. You should find that once all your good programs have been Allowed the pop-up windows are not so frequent. If you Deny a program and then it does not work/update properly you can always Allow it the next time you use it to see if that fixes its problem(s).
Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation. As stated here by the Microsoft Corporation.