BOOT CAMP 287 (12/08/03)


Shareware and Freeware, Part 1, Essentials


Imagine going into a shop, you see something you like but instead of buying it the shop lets you take it home, so you can try out it for a few weeks and if you decide to keep it you pay for it.


It sounds too good to be true but that’s more or less how Shareware works. Shareware is computer software that you download from the Internet so you can try before you buy, and quite often the cost or licence fee is a lot lower than comparable over the counter software products. Some functions may be limited, it stops working after the trial period has expired or displays ‘nag’ screens but normally it’s sufficiently useable to allow you to make an informed buying decision.


Freeware is even better this is software that is literally given away. True, some products contain advertising messages, (and very occasionally adware and spyware programs), you may be asked to make a small donation to the author – and it’s only polite to do so if you find the program useful -- but in general the best freeware is just that, free, with no strings attached.


You may be wondering how software companies can afford to be so generous? It’s simple; by marketing a product over the Internet the distribution and packaging costs are drastically reduced. Some shareware and freeware titles are condensed or ‘lite’ versions of more sophisticated packages and the hope is you’ll be persuaded to buy the full program. Otherwise they may be small add-ons or utilities, or third-party improvements to existing programs and operating systems, created by genuinely altruistic individuals who simply want to share their expertise.  


It’s time for our annual roundup of shareware and freeware programs and utilities but before we begin a few words about how to organise your downloads. I strongly suggest that you create a new folder into which you can save your downloaded files. This will avoid clutter and make them easier to manage, so start by opening Windows Explorer and make sure it is showing the root of your main hard disc drive (i.e. drive C: is highlighted in the left pane) then go to the File menu, click New then Folder and it will appear at the bottom of the right hand pane. The name New Folder should be highlighted, so rename it simply by typing in a new name, something like ‘Downloads’ (without the quotes) and hit the Enter key. When you download a program from the Internet you will have the option to Open or Save it, you should select the latter, and direct it to your Download folder.


We’ll finish off with a couple of essentials, next week in part two the emphasis will be on Internet and email applications.



WINZIP, shareware, 1.8Mb, Windows 95, 9x/NT/2000/XP,

You will definitely need a copy of WinZip on your PC if you are using Windows 9x (98/SE/ME). It’s the de-facto decompression utility, which basically means it extracts or ‘unzips’ files that have been ‘compressed’ to make them smaller and hence easier and quicker to send over the Internet. Many of the shareware and freeware titles we’ll be looking at are compressed or ‘zipped’ and although Windows XP has a similar utility built-in, it’s not as versatile as WinZip, which has the facility to check files and view Readme documents, before they are decompressed. WinZip also has a useful compression function, which is handy for saving space on your hard disc drive, or for sending large files and images as email attachments or on floppy disc. To get WinZip just click the ‘Download Evaluation Version’ button and follow the instructions.



AVG ANTIVIRUS FREE EDITION, freeware, 6.2Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP,

A virus scanner is absolutely essential on any PC with an Internet connection. AVG Antivirus Free Edition compares very favourably with the better-known commercial scanners and it is regularly updated with the latest virus ‘signatures. It checks all incoming emails and file downloads and can be set to regularly scan your disc drives.   


Disclaimer: you download and install these programs entirely at your own risk and we cannot provide any help or support.


Next week – More top shareware and freeware





A technique that reduces the size of files by replacing large repetitive blocks of data with much shorter codes  



A window or display that appears when a program has started to remind the user to pay a registration fee or indicate how many days of the trial period remain



Essential a virus’s fingerprint, a unique section of computer code that a virus scanner uses to identify infected files




As you probably know by now Google is the Internet’s favourite search engine and in Boot Camp 275 we looked at how to make best use of it and improve its functionality but here’s a Google tip especially for Star Trek fans. Lock your sensors on to this rather special version of Google, in Klingon, which is apparently the Galaxy’s fastest growing language…You’ll find it at Make it so, Qapla'…

Search PCTopTips 



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Crash Bang Wallop!

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