Free is good, right? Sometimes, it’s surprisingly good, as I’ve found with the freeware listed below.

By “freeware” I mean software that is free, including open source software. While sometimes the “free” software has limited features or only works for a trial period, other freeware is fully functional with the only cost being an optional donation to the developer to support their work.

Over the years, I’ve found some really nifty utilities that deserve mention. All the software I mention below has had plenty of functionality without having to pay for it. As far as I know, these are all designed to run on Windows computers only. 


KeePass Password ManagerOne way of being more secure is to use a password manager that lets you keep track of all your passwords without having to remember all of them (or, worse, write them down, use the same one everywhere, or make them too simple so they are easy to remember.)

The purpose of a password manager is to save all your login information (such as usernames, URLs, passwords, PINs, etc.) for many sites or accounts in one place, protected by a single password. This is kind of a big deal as it allows you to create unique passwords for all your various accounts without need to make them “easy to remember.”

Now, KeePass is just one of many password managers out there. I can’t say that it’s better than the others, but I can say that I’ve used it for years and it’s performed flawlessly.


Free File SyncYou do have a process in place to regularly back up your important data, right? There are many different ways to perform backups, including syncing your documents with the cloud. My tendency is to prefer solutions that reside on my computer or other local storage so I can have access even if I do not have internet.

Maybe that’s just me, but it’s one reason I use FreeFileSync for managing my backups. FreeFileSync does as the name implies. It synchronizes files between two folders, including folders on other devices. While that can be useful for a number of tasks, I use it to keep important files synced with an external hard drive.

FreeFileSync lets me do an incremental backup by only syncing those files that are new or have changed since the program was last run. Since the program lets me pick and choose which folders to sync, I can back up selectively rather than wholesale.

One warning: Be careful if you install FreeFileSync. The installer often tries to install a toolbar as part of the installation. Simply step through the process carefully and watch for a checkbox next to a notice about installing some third-party software.


Freeplane Mind MappingFreeplane is software for creating “mind maps.” (Mind maps are used for brainstorming, organizing ideas, taking notes, problem solving and more.) I’ve found them useful for writing projects and gathering thoughts on a given topic.

From my experience, Freeplane has plenty of tools to easily create mind maps with graphics, links, colors, icons and more.

Advanced Renamer:

Advanced RenamerThis software does something that I have found indispensable on more than one occasion; it lets me rename a bunch of files at once. Now, you may be someone who always names files exactly right the first time, or who never has need to rename more than a file or two at once.

But, if you do find yourself wanting to rename a bunch of files, this could be a huge time-saver. Let me give you an example.

Sometimes I take a lot of pictures and download them to my computer. I like to rename photos to something more descriptive than, say, DSCN0050. But sometimes, the filename I chose at download isn’t what I really wanted. With Advanced Renamer, I can automatically rename hundreds of files.

A trivial example: If I have a bunch of pictures named “Autumn 2015 xxxx.jpg” and want to instead name them “Autumn in Portland 2015 xxxx.jpg,” I could simply use the “replace” method to replace “Autumn 2015” with “Autumn in Portland 2015.” But this software is powerful enough to completely rearrange naming schemes and apply them to as many files as needed.


Directory ListerDirlister lets you save a listing of the files in a directory to a text or html file. I mainly use this to save listings of the files I have on DVD-ROM. For example, I save music files that I’ve downloaded onto disks as a backup. With the listings from this utility, I can easily look up what music is saved on which disk.

Of course, you could do the same thing from the command prompt, but DirLister lets you do it without resorting to the text-based interface of the command prompt. It also lets you control what information is saved in the listing as well as some of the formatting.

Do you have any freeware tools you’ve found that you like?

Freeware: Five Favorites
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