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74. Check out these freeware sites

By Mark Alberstat

Finding just the right piece of software for that recipe database, CD labeler, family tree project or new website is not always easy. At your local computer store there are often high-end, slickly produced software packages that may do what you want but may not as well. The only sure way of finding out seems to be buying the non-returnable software and seeing if it meets your expectations.

Another alternative is to download shareware or freeware packages found on a variety of websites. These software packages are often as good as, and sometimes better, than their up-market cousins found on the shelves of computer stores.

Some of the computer world's most famous programs have started from a shareware base. Programs like WinZip, ACDSee, ZoneAlarm, and more recent additions such as Spybot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware, are still found under shareware sites but may also be fully used for a set period of time at which point you either have to uninstall them or pay the author for the product and receive a key that makes the program functional again.

The following is a run down of some of the Internet's most popular sites for finding shareware. Once on the site, you can navigate to the software you want by going through large categories or by typing in keywords into the site's search bars. is a busy site in more ways than one. This one-time leader in the shareware listing community has been changed over the past few months and now features a new interface that has garnered some likes and dislikes. A feature on this site that you may want to check out regularly is its list of bloggers. Here you can find what a group of specialists is thinking about that day. These blogs cover everything from a spyware expert to a coding fiend to a Mac junkie whose blog is called The Mac Minute.

Another popular site is: This is a well-organized download site features a "Download Basket" which you can fill up before doing your downloads. Mac and Linux users have their own category for downloads, making it easier to find that encryption software, oddball game or any other piece of software in the hundreds listed. is a popular site that has been around for years but has had a facelift recently to make navigation easier. This long-time favorite on the shareware scene has thousands of files available and also its own rating system that is well explained under on of the information tabs.

A download site that many computer professionals use is This site is lesser known than the previously listed sites but is easy to use. With this company, you can have the standard membership area that everyone gets when they visit the site, or you can have the Nonags Plus membership, a pay-for area that, they claim, is even safer and comes with a list of other benefits and services.

With these sites in mind, or bookmarked for future reference, a world of free, or nearly free software is just a click away.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


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Originally published 11 December 2005


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