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Useful PC software downloads

S Kalyana Ramanathan | March 30, 2004

The Internet has made life a lot easier in more than one way. Apart from the obviously helpful applications such as electronic mail and chat, the Net has in abundance simple, light (weight) free and very useful software tools that can put to use both at work and at home.

But before you read on, here is a caveat. Make clear distinction between freeware, shareware and licensed software.

As the name goes, freeware is free of cost. Shareware comes with limited free-of-cost life, usually a month. Licensed software are those that have to be paid for.

Having defined the three basic types of software tools, get a taste of the lighter side of these three types software.

Freeware is free of only cost but not bugs. Not very long ago folks used to tamper with the date settings (yes, the one at the right bottom corner) so that shareware can be used for a lifetime.

Most geeks have woken up to this reality and today most shareware take care of this. Changing the date in system will not help. So stop wasting your time or testing the developers' intelligence and starting using shareware like one.

This suggestive article does not discuss licensed software, as the purpose of this article is to review software tools that can be used without paying for while we continue to respect IPR as good law abiding citizens.

Finally, an exhaustive research of freeware and shareware has not been done for this article and hence the suggested ones are only indications and it is up to the reader to take the lead and search for better applications on the internet.

Download Manager:
Since this article is on downloadable freeware and shareware, it is wiser to start with a software to manage your downloading work.

The fact is you don't need a downloading tool to download files into your PC. But you might need a tool to manage your downloads.

What if you are downloading a software which is, say 2 MB in size? You reach 1.9 MB and your Internet connection breaks. Do you start all over again keeping your fingers crossed and hoping the disconnection would not recur? No.

You get yourself a download manager that will allow downloads in multiple sessions. Apart from scheduling your downloads, according to your priorities, a download manager can be a real money saver in terms of the ISP charge and telephone connection cost.

According to publisher of software, Headlight Software, GetRight can also accelerate your downloads. GetRight has other features such as automatic dialling and file searching.

Suggested software: GetRight Available at: http://www.getright.com
Type: Shareware Size of demo set up file: 2.9 MB

Proxy server:
No, this is not that tall heavy box which gets the worst monitor in office and which the system administrator guards with his life. This is a software tool using which all the computers in a network (local area network) can access the Internet with just one dial up connection.

While the proxy server allows all users in a network to access the Internet at the same time, it also divides the limited bandwidth between the users. You will find the access to the Net slower when several users within the network access at the same time.

Suggested software: WinProxy by Lan-Projekt 1.5.1 Available at: http://www.winproxy.net
Type: Shareware Size of demo set up file: 256 k The demo version allows only two users.

File Splitter:
This is an extremely useful tool when you want to copy heavy files into floppy disks. The capacity of a single floppy disk is 1.44 MB. Imagine a situation when you want to transfer a file that is bigger than 1.44 MB to another machine.

File splitter software comes to your rescue. Using this tool you can break the file into smaller parts, copy them into multiple floppies and transfer to another PC. The filesplitter tool also creates an exe file.

Copy all the broken files along with the exe file into the destination PC. Use the mouse to double click the exe file and you re-assembled file is ready for use.

The best part of this tool is that the file splitter tool need not exist on the destination PC. The .exe (executable) file takes care of that.

Suggested software: Easy File Splitter Available at: http://www.filesplitter.net
Type: Shareware Size of demo set up file: 1.32 MB

PDF Writer:
Adobe's portable document format (PDF) is an universal format that allows files to be viewed exactly as the way the creator wanted it to be.

Altering a PDF file is not possible under normal circumstances. It is not a regular document which anyone can change the content. Receiving a PDF file is like receiving a fax on paper.

Adobe Acrobat Writer 6.0 comes with a price tag in the range of $27. Test your comfort level with a PDF writer that can be downloaded from the Internet.

The shareware available on the net will leave a watermark on the document, making it usable only for some not-so-formal occasions.

A typical PDF writer supports a range of documents types like text files, spreadsheets or presentation files. Since Adobe Acrobat Reader is a freeware, the universal acceptability is pretty high for the PDF format.

Suggested software: PDFCamp/ PDFWriter 1.9 Available at: www.verypdf.com
Type: Shareware Size of demo set up file: 443 KB

Remote access tool:
What if your had burnt the mid-night oil working on an important presentation file but in a hurry forgot to take the file to office. Ideally you should not even trust your floppy.

It is wiser to e-mail it to yourself and then download the file from your work PC.

But a remote access software skips both these solutions and allows you to access your home computer from office and vice versa.

The software must be installed in both the PCs and the PC you are trying to access remotely must be switched on when you accessing it.

Suggested software: Remote PC Access 2.2 Available at: www.access-remote-pc.com
Type: Shareware Size of demo set up file: 900 kb

Check out www.download.com for more details on the products. This website offers thousands of software and it would be advisable to download the set up files after comparing the features of alternative products.

Apart from the publishers' descriptions, www.download.com also offers its own review for most products with a numerical rating. Also read the user comments for some inputs the on the quality of the products or problems faced during installation.

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