Here's few links and information about a number of very good software programs, most of which are FREE.

  • Avast! Home Edition — Avast Home Edition is FREE for home/personal use. Works great. It's not as invasive as Norton and McAfee and it doesn't bog your PC down into nowhere land. Plus, it has a feature that lets you perform a boot-time scan before windows starts up (letting you delete any little uglies that might have set up residence in the system folder). Free for home/personal use; requires annual re-registration.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials — Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. If you're a PC novice, you might want to install this anti-viral protection program (you can only install one "definitions driven" anti-virus program ... so you'd need to pick MSE or Avast ... but you wouldn't be able to install both). MSE is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.  No annual re-registration requirement.
  • Threatfire — This "behavior-based" anti-viral program will work alongside your Anti-Virus program to boost its effectiveness in preventing malicious attacks on your PC. Free for home/personal use; $29.95 for commercial/business use.

  • Stopzilla — Even when you think your anti-virus program has worked well and done it's job effectively, you'll be amazed what this wonderful little application will find on your PC. It's well worth the small fee for the active protection it provides, blocking malicious attacks from hidden content on web pages you visit.
  • Windows Defender — Windows Defender is a free program that helps you stay productive by protecting your computer against pop-ups, slow performance and security threats caused by spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Free is you're using a genuine copy of MS Windows operating systems (Win 2000 no longer supported | Incorporated within Microsoft Security Essentials). [Freeware]
  • Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware — If your PC should get infected by something really ugly, this program can be quite useful in helping to erradicate the pest. The free version is run on-demand by the PC user ... but if you want it to run on it's own, providing realtime protection, or scheduled scanning and updating operations, there's a one-time fee of $24.95. I use this one more for when I'm troubleshooting and repairing other's PCs to removed varmints that have plagued their registries.

  • Belarc Advisor — Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server. Save a copy of the report as .mht file [an htm file with all of it's resources included (graphics, etc.) as part of the file] so you have an spotlight archive file of what was installed on your PC at that moment in time. The "Software Licenses" section includes serial numbers and install keys for some (but unfortunately not all) software installed on your PC ... a really nice feature if you've lost your install key. [Freeware]
  • CCleaner — CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! [Freeware]
  • doPDF — doPDF installs itself as a virtual PDF printer driver in your 'Printers and Faxes' list. To convert to PDF, you just have to print the document to doPDF, the free pdf converter. Open a document (with Microsoft Word, WordPad, NotePad or any other software), choose Print and select doPDF. It will ask you where to save the PDF file and when finished, the PDF file will be automatically opened in your default PDF viewer. This one doesn't advertise itself on every copy it prints. [Freeware]
  • EASEUS Disk Copy — EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware providing sector by sector disk/partition clone regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme. The sector to sector method assures you a copy 100% identity to original. EASEUS Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. [Freeware]
  • EASEUS Partition Master — The Home Edition allows you to extend partition (especially for system drive), manage disk space easily, settle low disk space problem under Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 (Only for 32 bit). Free for home users. [Freeware]
  • EASEUS ToDo Backup — Supporting Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008, is potent FREE backup software providing system backup and restore, hard disk or partition backup and restore, disk clone to protect your system and disk. It can back up whole PC, including the operating system plus your data, applications, settings and everything! [Freeware]
  • Easy Capture — EasyCapture Screen Capture is a powerful and easy-to-use free screen capture software. It allows you to capture screen shot, include windows screen capture, scrolling windows screen capture, selected-regions screen capture. It also allow you to edit the screen captures and add balloon stamps. [Freeware]
  • Eraser — Eraser is an advanced security tool (for Windows), which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. It works with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 2003 Server and DOS. It not only gives you seven different options for 'erasing' the contents of the recycle bin, it even lets you create a task for 'erasing' the unused space on your hard drive during your next restart. Eraser is free software and its source code is released under GNU General Public License. [Freeware]
  • Filezilla — FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface.
  • JZip— jZip is a powerful and reliable compression utility based on proven and reliable 7-Zip archiving technology by Igor Pavlov. jZip sports an elegant, easy to use yet powerful user interface which lets you create, open and extract Zip, TAR, GZip and 7-Zip. Open and extract from RAR and ISO. [Freeware]
  • Keepass — KeePass Professional is a free, open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known.
  • Partition Wizard — Partition Wizard Home Edition is a free partition manager which allows you to perform operations like: resizing, copying and deleting partitions; formatting, converting, exploring and hiding partitions; changing drive letters; setting the active partition; and performing partition recovery. Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7 (32-bit & 64-bit) operating systems.
  • PathCopy — Use this utility to copy the path for any file you can access from windows explorer. Once installed, you can right-click any file and see a Copy Path option in the context menu that let's you copy a path statement to the highlighted file in a number of different formats. You can also use pathcopy to copy a range of files and paste them into Notepad as a list.
  • Revo Uninstaller — Revo Uninstaller helps you to uninstall and remove unwanted programs installed on your computer even if you have problems uninstalling and cannot uninstall them from "Windows Add or Remove Programs" control panel applet. This piece of freeware is definitely worth installing! With its advanced and fast algorithm, Revo Uninstaller analyzes an application's data before uninstall and scans after you uninstall an application. After the program's regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over on your computer. [Freeware]
  • Roboform2Go — RoboForm2Go gives you the freedom and flexibility to carry all your passwords, contacts, and bookmarks, on a USB key for use on any computer - anywhere in the world. RoboForm2Go saves you time by facilitating automated logins to online accounts, and completing online registration and checkout forms with one click! Full price = $39.95, but watch for a special. Free version restricts the number passwords it will track.
    • Plug your USB flash drive with RoboForm2Go into any PC and log into any website, or fill any form, all with one click!
    • Remove your RoboForm2Go USB flash drive and no information will be left on the host PC.
  • Secunia — The Secunia Online Software Inspector, or short OSI, is a fast way to do an online scan your PC for the most common programs and vulnerabilities, thus checking if your PC has a minimum security baseline against known patched vulnerabilities. You can perform an online scan, or you can download and run the PSI (Personal Security Inspector) at regular intervals to learn which programs and add-ons need a more up-to-date security patch (e.g., Adobe Reader, Java, QuickTime, Windows, Flash, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). It also gives you a link to the site from which you can download and apply the latest update. The PSI is free for personal use.
  • Ashampoo Burning Studio — Multi-disc file backup and restore on CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs; create compressed backup archives with powerful password protection; split archives automatically across multiple CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs; restore archive contents to their original locations; integrated Audio CD ripper store your audio tracks as WMA or WAV files; new option for setting the number of copies you want to burn (available for all disc formats); discs can now be verified immediately without being ejected first (if the drive supports this feature); numerous other small improvements that make the program easier to use and more effective; burn files and folders on data CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray discs; burn Audio CDs from WAV, MP3, FLAC, WMA and Ogg Vorbis files; burn MP3-CDs from your MP3 files; burn Video DVD, Video CD (VCD) or Super Video CD (S-VCD); create and burn CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc images; burn speed and other options can all be set automatically.
  • Audacity — Audacity® is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. [Open Source Freeware]
  • CDex — CDCDex can extract the data directly (digital) from an Audio CD, which is generally called a CD Ripper or a CDDA utility. The resulting audio file can be a plain WAV file (useful for making compilation audio CDs) or the ripped audio data can be compressed using an audio encoder. In addition, WAV files on the hard drive can be converted to a Compressed Audio File (and visa versa). CDex also supports many audio file tag formats like the ID3V1 and ID3V2 tags, which can be automatically inserted as part of the ripping process. [Open Source Freeware]
  • Drop Box— Do you sometimes work on files from work at home? Do you need to back up some critical files? Do you need to share some files with another contact, friend or family member? Dropbox is the easiest way to store, backup, sync, and, share files online. Best of all, not only is DropBox free, but you get 2GB of server space for free.
  • FoxIt Reader — Foxit Reader is a free PDF document viewer, with incredible small size, breezing-fast launch speed and rich feature set. Foxit Reader supports Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7. (Loads much faster that Adobe's PDF Reader.)
  • Inkscape — Need a vector drawing program? Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X. (Download the "windows installer")
  • LiberKey-Portable — Using Liberkey, you can install over 200 open source portable applications and utilities on your portable USB device which can be plugged in any computer and launched from the USB Key without having to install them on the PC you're using. It's free ... and it works great. Click the link and check out all the applications and utilities (I set one up using the ultimate compilation ... and then installed a few more apps that weren't automatically included in that compilation).
  • MediaMonkey — MediaMonkey-Free allows you to manage a music library from 100 to 50,000+ audio files and playlists located on your hard drive, CDs, or a network. Organize, browse, or search music by Genre, Artist, Year, Rating, etc., and never waste your time trying to find mp3s you know you have. It supports MP3, AAC (M4A), OGG, WMA, FLAC, MPC, WAV, CDA, M3U, PLS, etc. [Free Version]
  • MP3 Tagger — MP3 (MPEG Layer 3) is a music-file format which can contain an ID3 tag. The ID3 tag has several cells you can set. These are the Songtitle, Artist, Album, Year, Genre, Comment and several more such as Composer, Original artist, Copyright, URL, Encoder type, etc. Media Tagger lets you modify any number of files at a time in an easy way. You may synchronize ID3v1 with ID3v2, name the file according to the tag or vice versa or format the letter capitalization in the file???s name. You can also create a WinAMP playlist (m3u, pls), create a file listing for Excel (csv) or Notepad (txt) or generate it as a HTML page, all this with just one click. [Freeware]
  • Open Office — OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages (e.g. MS-Office, Wordperfect). It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
    • Draw gives you the tools to communicate with graphics and diagrams. Manipulate objects, rotate in two or three dimensions; use sophisticated rendering to create photorealistic images. Smart connectors make short work of flowcharts, organisation charts, network diagrams, etc. Styles - a common OpenOffice.org feature - help you control your work easily and precisely in Draw.
    • Writer has everything you would expect from a modern, fully equipped word processor or desktop publisher: powerful features like AutoCorrect, AutoComplete, AutoFormat, Styles and Formatting, Text Frames and Linking, Tables of Contents, Indexing, Bibliographical References, Illustrations, Tables, and other objects.
    • Calc is the spreadsheet you've always wanted. Newcomers find it intuitive and easy to learn; professional data miners and number crunchers will appreciate the comprehensive range of powerful features including Advanced DataPilot technology, Natural language formulas, an Intelligent Sum Button, a comprehensive range of advanced spreadsheet functions, Styles and Formatting, and a Scenario Manager for "what ifs".
    • Impress is a truly outstanding tool for creating effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will stand out with 2D and 3D clip art, fontworks, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools. A multi-pane view puts all the tools at your fingertips, and you can 'park' your most commonly used drawing tools around your screen ready for single-click access. Share your work in many ways: not only pdf, but also html and Flash.
    • Base enables you to manipulate database data seamlessly within OpenOffice.org 3. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, either using your own database or Base's own built-in HSQL database engine. Base offers a choice of using Wizards, Design Views, or SQL Views for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users.
  • Open Project — OpenProj is a free, open source desktop alternative to Microsoft Project.
  • Paint.Net — Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. [Open Source]
  • Software Informer — Software Informer compiles up-to-date information about the software you actually use detailing when a more recent version of any program is available and offering you a link for downloading the update. [Freeware]
  • Wink — Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.
  • Del.icio.us — Social Bookmarking service. Store all you bookmarks/favorites online, then logon and access them from any PC.(sign up for free)
  • TinyChat —  Within but a few clicks of a mouse, you and up to 11 of your coworkers can fire up a huge, Brady Bunch-style video chat interface complete with an accompanying text chat. Pony up $20 a month and you’ll even get the chance to share your screen, amongst other features.
  • Prezi — Prezi allows you to create slideshows in a super-easy way. You can slap in transitions, insert images, group and layer your various bits of information, and generally create this moving, almost cinematic kind of a display that’s quite a bit removed from the standard slide-after-slide Powerpoint route. Once you’re done, watch your presentation via the Web (or share it, or embed it in a blog, etc.). 
  • Google Docs — Create and share your online documents, presentations and spreadsheets (sign up for free). Integrates with Google Mail, Google Calendar and Blogger.
  • PC Tools Password Generator — Create random passwords that are highly secure and extremely difficult to crack or guess due to an optional combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. (But ... don't forget to save it in KeePass ... so you can get into that site the next time ... because these passwords are a bit difficult to remember off the top of your head.)