The web is full of free software – you just have to look for it! As someone who saw the dot com bubble grow, and burst, I can assure you – not all free software or service is created the same! However, the stuff below is fairly good, and what I use on a daily basis. Check it out and see what you think!
My Favorite Free Software
- SSH Client: PuTTY A true classic among sys-admins. Others exist with more bells and whistles, but this is a simple one-exe type of program that can easily save you in a pinch. With a port for Pocket PC available and on my storage card, I can connect to my UNIX servers wherever I have data access. I also keep a copy of just the single exe in my Foldershare'd libraries (See Foldershare below) so that I have it on all systems.
- FTP Client: FileZilla It used to be that you needed to purchase a fancy FTP client or use the horrible free alternatives (WS-FTP comes to mind…). FileZilla does all I've ever needed an FTP client for and more, plus it's free. Why pay for others when FZ does it just fine?
- Linux Distribution: Ubuntu Ubuntu is hands-down the friendliest Linux distribution I've ever seen. It loaded fine on my Lenovo X60 and can be a real life-saver for quick and dirty work (as opposed to waiting for Vista to load up fully!).
- Notepad Replacement: Notepad++ I found out about Notepad++ off of Daniel Petri's site and have been very happy with it. It includes a killer macro function that allows you to record your actions once and then repeat them – perfect for formatting directory lists into shell scripts! It's always a "first-install" app on new systems of mine (and on friend's systems that I'm going to have to work from!)
- Color Picker!: ColorPic I found this one just because I really needed to know a color code to make a quick change and didn't feel like digging through CSS pages to find it. It works as advertised and is really free. The company that makes it also has a plethora of free tools and some pay tools as well for web developers.
- Picture Resizer: Picture Resizer 2.0 Here's a nice tool that is insanely easy to use and can be great with a large amount of photos to resize.
My Favorite Free Services
- Remote PC Access: LogMeIn I don't understand why people would EVER use "GoToMyPC" when "LogMeIn" from 3 AM labs does everything cheaper or free. For just basic remote access, you can signup for free and enjoy forever. If you want the pro package (With all the perks of "GoToMyPC") it's fairly cheap (They've been running a promotion for the past year to sign up 5 computers for $19.99 a month – total (so $20 for 5 PCs!). I also use their IT Reach version on my dedicated server. Sweet software.
- Remote File Synchronization: Foldershare I learned about Foldershare from one of Jason's Thoughtscast on PPCT. A great solution to keeping my files backed up and sync'ed up. You install the client on at least 2 PCs and from there just specify which directories to keep in sync. For example, I have a "current" directory that contains all the files I need for work and play (I archive old stuff out of it every 6 months or so, hence the "Current" designation)). I keep "Current" sync'ed across 4 different PCs (2 laptops, 1 Server, 1 Workstation). If you make a change and the other clients are online, the software sends the changes instantly. If they're not online, the next time one pops online the client sends the changes. Nothing goes through Foldershare's website, so it's all secure.