The best things in life may not be free, but the free stuff ain’t bad, especially when it comes to software. Here are my picks for the best free software you can find for going online.
Best free browser:
Do you pine for the good old days when Netscape Communicator was the best free browser going? Check out Mozilla 1.6. Created by Mozilla.org, www.mozilla.org, the open-source project that took stewardship of the Netscape code in 1998, it offers pop-up ad blocking, tabbed browsing, zoom controls, chat, and a mess of other features you won’t find in Internet Explorer.
Best free e-mail:
As easy to use as Outlook Express (and, in many ways, better), Mozilla Thunderbird, www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird comes from the same people who brought you the Mozilla browser. It has all the tools you’d expect, including the ability to handle multiple e-mail accounts from a single interface, create rules for funnelling e-mail into folders, and colour-code messages for easier sorting. Thunderbird even has a built-in spam filter, though you have to train it before it recognises any junk.
Best free virus scanner:
Is your PC infected? You might not know until it’s too late, unless you make a detour to PC Pitstop, www.pcpitstop.com. Here you can download an applet that scans your PC and ferrets out any nasties it finds. You can run a quick check or tell the site to scan your entire system. And it’s fast — the quick check scanned more than 4000 files on my PC in less than a minute. The downside: you must visit the site to run a check. While PC Pitstop doesn’t provide the 24/7 protection you’d get from a true antivirus program, it’s an easy way to restore your piece of mind.
Best free HTML editor:
Fookes Software’s NoteTab Light, www.notetab.com comes with a dozen libraries of HTML commands, forms, emoticons, and more that display in a window alongside your document. Just double-click an item to add it to your page. Unlike Windows Notepad or WordPad, you can open multiple files and tab between them.