Over the years I have found and tested a lot of very useful software. Most of the software on this page is free, saving hundreds of pounds. If you find the software useful and want more in the future, I would ask you to make a small donation to the makers (see individual home pages for details).
Now a word of caution!
There are many sites on the Internet trying to get you to download and run their software. How do YOU know this is not a scam or a virus? Only install and run software that you know and trust, from a reputable manufacturer and virus test the files BEFORE you run or install them.
Best free anti-virus AVG Free http://free.grisoft.com/
The latest version of AVG FREE (2011) can slow down old PCs.
If this is a problem uninstall it and try one of these other free antivirus programs.
AVAST Free (not to be confused with a free trial of paid AVAST)
AVIRA another excellent free antivirus offering
(Click on the names above to download)
Spy-ware and pop up removal (try the free version):
Tidying up all the temporary files created by Windows, Internet Explorer, Word, your Cookies and more CCleaner.
This will also clear up all your cookies (or you can select which ones to keep).
Improved memory manager which displays how much memory you have left
Free Ram XP Pro
Crucial memory scan to see what extra memory you could install and the price!
To obtain information about your PC's hardware, including what type of memory it uses and how many free slots are available CPU-Z
Do you have loads of photographs, would you like to put some together and make panoramic shots. Try AutoStitch it's magic and saves hours of fiddling with drawing packages.
Talking of photos - if you have a digital camera, you need PICASA.
This free program from GOOGLE lets you manage and edit all the photos on your PC. It will find photos you forgot about, let you create CDs, remove red eyes etc.Picas will even let you save loads of photos on their secure computer system (free registration required). Once uploaded the photos can be shared with friends, with the whole world or just viewed by YOU. It will even enable you to add a location to your photos - try it.
While we are talking about locations and maps there are may sites that will give you maps, aerial photographs and work out routes.
Live search Maps (from Microsoft) Very good Bird's Eye View in some areas.
There are many BitTorrent clients, and search engines, with which one can download all sorts of "free" music, programs, books, DVDs - ANYTHING!
Be careful. check the files for viruses, before using them, and be aware of any copyright infringements. You could be breaking the law if you upload, or download copyrighted material.
I personally use µTorrent but there are plenty of other free ones - http://azureus.sourceforge.net/, http://bittyrant.cs.washington.edu/ etc.
If you intend to use torrents I would also recommend that you look at PeerGuardian / PeerBlock to protect your privacy.
Epson cartridges / SSC
There are many sites offering cheap ink jet cartridges for printers and you can also save money by refilling them yourselves or taking them to a refill shop.
My own colour printer is an old Epson and I find that the cheapest place for these cartridges is www.7dayshop.com.
My T026 and T027 cartridges are currently £1.99 and £1.69 (18/03/2008), but they have been as cheap as 99p each. 7dayshop also offer an excellent cleaning cartridge which saves loads of ink and really cleans the heads thoroughly.
A must for any Epson printer!
As is the excellent SSC utility http://www.ssclg.com/epsone.shtml.
They also do a lot of photographic bits and pieces, batteries, chargers, scopes, PC extras etc.
There are now loads and loads of companies selling cheap ink cartridges. I've had a few compatibility problems which have always been sorted out by calling the company and getting a different cartridge. But like all things in life you have to try them to see if they work on your printer.
In my experience on loads of different makes of printers
THEY WORK and YOU SAVE A FORTUNE.
I have never had any printers damaged with these cartridges or even continuous ink systems - BUT the companies all state that your printer will not be covered by their guarantee if you do not use their ink.
As you can easily save more than the printer costs with just a few new cartridges - so who cares?
To find cheap cartridges go to GOOGLE and select SHOPPING.
Then enter the printer make model and the work INK or the cartridge number and press SEARCH.
E.G EPSON R2880 INK or T0964
Now the clever bit select the search order and change it to Price: low to high.
Then select a cheap supplier that looks reliable (care with postage charges).
If you need to, contact them and have a chat.
I usually then order 1 cartridge / set and test it, before buying a batch.
Try it you could save a fortune over high street prices or buying from printer manufacturers.
SYNCTOY - from Microsoft
This is an amazing little program from Microsoft, it allows you to set up "folder pairs" and backup from one folder to the other. For instance I set up MyDocuments as one folder and "contribute" it to a folder on my external USB drive. I then synchronise the files to my external USB drive for safe keeping.
The first time you run it SyncToy takes a while and backs up every single file, but the next time you run it it will only backup the new files or the files that have changed.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SyncToy for more details.
If you are unsure how to use these programs have a look at their websites or search GOOGLE for HOW DO I USE CCLEANER (for example)
Internet service Providers - ISP
People often ask me which ISP they should go with.
All I can say is that most of them are good.
It all depends on the speed and cost in YOUR area.
Please GOOGLE broadband comparison
Select one service and enter your post code and phone number.
In my experience they are all good unless you have a problem that is not resolved.
Currently I use BE There as they offered the best deal for my area.
A free helpdesk (I refuse to pay to tell them their service is not working)
and a free WiFi router.
And more importantly I got £40 cash back.
TopCashBack give you cashback on all types of purchases.
Click on the link above to register, it costs you nothing to register and I get a couple of quid.
Hopefully you will use their service and save money on: Car tyres, PC memory, utilities, all sort of things.
Have a look and register for FREE - you could save a lot of money.
Go on try it!
FIREFOX and add-ons
There are many IE (Internet Explorer) alternatives out there (FireFox, Chrome, Opera, Safari etc). Personally I have been using FireFox more and more over the years, instead of good old Internet Explorer.
The main reason for my choice was originally that FireFox was faster, more secure and had ADDONS. My first add-on was AdBlock Plus which stopped loads of adverts and improved my browser speed. I then installed FlashBlock and Stop Autoplay to stop those annoying videos running when you open a page.
After several months I added NewTabURL and Smart Bookmarks Bar to overcome some stupid "features" of FireFox.
My most used add-ons are LastPass and Xmarks - both now owned by the same company. If you use more than one PC these are a must as all my favorites and passwords are now available from all my PCs. I can even log onto LastPass and Xmarks on a customer's PC and I have access to all my passwords (remember to log off before handing the PC back).
This is useful even if you only have one PC.
1 You never forget a password and can have different password for each site.
2 When you buy a new PC all your passwords and favorite links / bookmarks
automatically follow you.
Should you use loads of add-ons and need to quickly add them all to another PC.
Then there is an add-on to help you SIPHON.
So have a look FireFox (and the other alternatives) is FREE!
And so are the add-ons?
Just click on the link above to get FireFox and click on the ADD-ONS tab to search for the ones above.
By the way most browsers are now supporting add-ons, so use your favourite browser, block annoying adverts and have a secure LastPass account. It will make your web browsing experience faster and so much easier.