10 Free Downloads for Your Laptop

With these no-cost tools, you can get the most out of your laptop or netbook.

WeFi

If you're a laptop owner and a fan of social networking, you can combine the two with WeFi. Not only does this program find hotspots so that you can connect to them, but it also finds people to whom you can connect as well. After you install WeFi, the app lists nearby hotspots along with information about each, such as the signal strength and whether the hotspot is encrypted. To connect to one, double-click it. You can also go to a Web page that displays a map of where you are and shows nearby hotspots.

To see people who are connected to hotspots near you, click the People tab. You can then see more information about any of them, and get in touch with them via the software.

WeFi also includes a feature that will warn you away from suspicious Web pages. If you prefer, however, you can turn it off during the installation process: Uncheck the box next to Include Wi-Fi Secure Browsing.

Note that this program will make WeFi Search your home page, establish WeFi Search as your default search, and install a toolbar. If you prefer that it not do that, during the installation process select Custom and uncheck the boxes for Toolbar, Make WeFi Search my default search engine, and Make WeFi Search my homepage. Also, during installation, WeFi will ask you to install a variety of additional software; to be safe, uncheck the boxes next to those items.

Download WeFi | Price: Free

USB Flash Drive Programs

USB flash drives are designed to be portable, just like your laptop. But they can be problematic--for one thing, how can you make sure that your files aren't compromised in the event that you lose your drive? We have a few downloads to help with that, and more.

PortableApps

If your laptop or netbook has only a modest hard drive, you may not be able to fit all of your applications on it. Microsoft Office, for example, can occupy plenty of hard-disk space and leave you little room for anything else.

With PortableApps, you won't have that problem. In this download you get a full suite of free applications, including OpenOffice.org, which has a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, a database, and a drawing program. You'll also find an antivirus utility, a slimmed-down version of Firefox, and more. In addition to the applications, you get backup software, plus a menu that makes accessing all of the programs easy.

The Light version takes up just 150MB installed, and the more full-featured Standard version consumes 355MB. You can install the software on your laptop or netbook, of course, but to save space you can install the programs on a USB drive and even run them from there. You can store your data on the USB drive as well. No matter how little storage space your laptop or netbook has, you'll be set.

Download PortableApps Standard | Price: Free

Download PortableApps Light | Price: Free

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Preston Gralla

Preston Gralla

PC World (US online)
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