The World’s Most Popular Freeware – Updated

Welcome to the official second edition of the PC Pitstop Free Software Report. I want to thank everyone for the tons of comments both positive and negative. We are listening. More importantly, many of our readers learned more from the comments than our Top Software List! In fact, I even learned a few things.

Here are the changes between this and the last one. First and foremost, we removed Adobe Reader from the list entirely. The reason is as everyone advised us. PC Pitstop is able to measure the popularity of a FreeWare. The idea is that if a freeware is popular, then it is most likely the best as well. There are a few instances in which this concept falls apart, and Adobe Reader sticks out. The reason is that Adobe Reader has high popularity because it is pre-installed on computers, not because of its inherent value.

Based on all of the advice, I have personally removed Adobe Reader from my main computer and have replaced it with Foxit Reader, and I am very pleased. Not only is it a lot faster, more secure, it also has a slick tabbed interface like FireFox. Thanks for the recommendation. You can also find Foxit Reader on the Free Software List, although it debuts at #20 with a puny 3.63% of PC’s tested.

Another item removed from the list is WinRAR. The reason is WinRAR is considered trialware and not freeware. I was personally using WinRAR, and after 15 days, it wanted me to pay. This list is dedicated to 100% free software, not trialware.

In addition to the above, we added and ranked the following:

Adobe Reader
WinRar
+ µTorrent
+ AusLogics Disk Defrag
+ avast! Antivirus
+ Comodo Firewall
+ DeepBurner Free
+ DriverMax
+ Foxit PDF Reader
+ GOM Player
+ MicroSoft SyncToy
+ Online Armor
+ Pidgin
+ True Crypt
+ Revo Uninstaller
+ Secunia PSI
+ Gimp
+ winamp
+ SUPERAntiSpyware Free

See how your favorite did below!

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70 thoughts on “The World’s Most Popular Freeware – Updated

  1. I recommend Belarc Advisor. If you want a complete rundown of what programs are on you computer, usage, security & a lot of other things.
    One point I’d like to point out about this program is it does a very good job of checking the Windows operating system files & updates. If any updates are not installed correctly, it is flagged. Also, updated regularly. Totally free.

    http://www.belarc.com

  2. I agree with many of the programs on your list, although I have not tried them all. I would have to add a few more, though. I was surprised Irfanview was not on the list. I have been using it for years. It’s the best free image viewer there is. It’s also great for doing a few simple things quickly, such as cropping, gamma and saturaton correcting or image optimizing. Other free programs I think highly of and use are- Unlocker
    by Cedrick Collomb, TreeSize, BSPlayer,a media player up there with Videolan, CDisplay for reading comics, Quintessential Media player for music, it shrinks away to almost nothing, PeerGuardian2, and DamnNfo Viewer.

  3. a wonderful list there are a few i would have added, but i admire the work you’ve done, so i wont press the issue.

  4. I tried the Glary Utilities, based on this recommendation here, and used the encrypt feature to create an exe self-decrypting file. Then I took the file to another computer to see if it worked and Spybot S&D flagged it as containing the Fakebill virus. So I went Glary Utilities forum, and found that the site overall looked pretty shady, so I’m not overly confident that the utility is safe.

    Thoughts?

  5. Anyone know of a free program to backup/image your PC? I want to buy a new PC but don’t want to have to pay for Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image if I can avoid it.

  6. Parrotlover in simi valley,ca says thanks for the tip on the Revo uninstaller I couldn’t get that real player and all it’s garbage out of my p.c and registry! plus it has some great extra features! does ANYBODY know of a program that will record videos I watch online? snag-it only grabs the video not the audio so it’s kinda useless! also RE:SR Ironware I read the features and how google chrome adds clutter but I need the ABC/spell check DOES Ironware browser have that feature? Lastly I Bookmark a lot of sites in firefox is doing this a bad idea? to have a bunch of them?? thanks PC Pitstop and you all great forum*

  7. PC Pitstop has some good pointers sometimes, but I can’t underatand why peaple want to use any software that evan touches the registry. if 1 does use registry software, they are likely, headed for some big problems down the road. I have had to compleatly erase a lot of Hard drives and reload the entire operating system on a lot of computers due to this, and the problems don’t start right away, always they build up over a bit of time.
    also PC Pitstop needs to be sure the software they sell is VISTA compatible, that is a major concern in a VISTA system

  8. Kevin, there’s an even better free PDF reader than Foxit. It’s called PDF-XChange Viewer. It also uses tabs but then there’s much more – with PDF-XChange Viewer, you can type directly onto any PDF file. There are more features also, but this is huge! You can fill out forms before you print them and you can save any changes you make. Try PDF-XChange Viewer, it’s the best free PDF viewer out there right now.

    As “Stephen” pointed out, KeePass DEFINITELY needs to be on this list. KeePass is free, open source, simple and effective. It’s a free password manager with good features and the ability to use plugins. It’s a great way to keep track of all of your passwords.

    “Roger” mentioned SIW, which is a great system info tool. Look on the website (gtopala.com) for the standalone version. It’s a useful tool to see your computer specs. Still, a tool that might be even better in some ways (like being able to see power and voltage info) is PCWizard from CPUID. Free and very nice.

    Here’s another huge miss, as “Lawrence” point out: Where’s IrfanView? It’s the best freeware image viewer out there. Not only is it very fast and can read many image, sound and video file types, but it can also do some editing of pictures. Basic stuff, but very helpful when all you want to do is crop or other simple edits. It can do an automatic image enhancement (called auto adjust colors) which makes most photos look better with just one click. Has a batch mode and can use your scanner to acquire images too. It can do more too, go get it!

    As “Jack” mentioned, SpywareBlaster should be listed, it’s a great free anti-spyware program.

    PS – Instead of GIMP, you might try GimPhoto, a version of Gimp that’s designed to be more like Photoshop.

    Also, SMPlayer is a great free media player. It’s just MPlayer with it’s own GUI, but it’s simple and works great at playing most things.

    For what might be the best “.zip” program right now, try IZArc. It handles most types of compressed files, (including .7z and .rar) works great and has a simple interface. It can basically do anything that 7-Zip or WinRAR can, but it looks better and is truly free, unlike WinRAR.

    Finally, Go-oo, an improved version of OpenOffice, also handles Works (.wps) files, for those unfortunate enough to have to deal with them, because Works comes free on computers and some people actually use it instead of OpenOffice.

    There’s more, but this should be good for now. Please remove P2P file sharing programs from your list, do not promote stealing. (Torrents CAN be good, but only for legitimate uses, like downloading Linux or OpenOffice legally.)

  9. DriverMax should not be on that list.What a waste of time,I would rather do it manually.Driver Max must be a sponser of Pc pitstop.You removed Win Rar because it gave you a nag after 15 days,yet put up with this(driver Max)program.

  10. NO TO DRIVERMAX… must agree with those who said it already. drivermax is a pain and not really free since you have to buy the pro version if you want it to work with any degree of ease.

  11. You a really doing a great service. I must have missed your first edition. I find that I can not forward pdf files sent to me in emails (using hotmail). Maybe I have to be able to create the files before I can send them. Are there any free pdf creators that do not put advertisements on the pages?
    Milton

  12. To:

    “Art Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 7:17 am
    I see you list WinRar as a free programme. It isn’t. Only the trial version is.”

    WinRar is being delisted altogether. It and Adobe Reader both have a red “-” in front of their entry, indicating they have been removed.

  13. To:

    “Steve in Escondido, CA Says:
    June 16th, 2009 at 3:41 pm
    The last time I tried Foxit Reader, it would not allow me to use the USPS’s Priority Mail printing feature. So, Adobe Reader went back on.”

    I had the same issue. The work-around is to open Foxit behind the USPS page to print/test print the label, then after clicking on the button to print the label, minimize the USPS browser window and the Foxit printing wizard should be there.

  14. I cant see why 7zip is on the list…all the way back (I do believe) starting with XP, windows have included a compressing utlity….right click on a folder, go to send to….then “comressed (zipped) folder”.
    To unzip a file, just double click it.

    Unlike with like programs like abobe, for the life of me I cant understand why people installs unneeded software……i got rid of adobe and got Foxit….truley awesome, thank you all for that tip.

    Jim

  15. DriverMax

    This must be the most annoying “freeware” ever. Unless you pay for the Pro upgrade, even the dinkiest little driver of a few measly megabytes takes me 30 mins to get installed because of the annoying things they have deliberately put there such as “Pausing download to free your internet connection” . . . As if I need that with 6 Mb Cable!
    Good lord, take this thing off the freeeware list. I would pay 15 bucks for a year of Driver Detective anyday to have it done fast and painless. =(

  16. TheDuke’s tip about ‘Everything’ is a good one… If you frequently use ‘Search’ you’ll know how slow and frustrating it can be. Compared to anything else I’ve used Everything works like lightning! It may not be all singing and dancing but it finds everything I ever need. It’s free from: – http://www.voidtools.com/

    I haven’t seen any mention of Rohos, http://www.rohos.com/
    If you’d like an invisible, password protected, partition on your USB drive this is the site for you… There is a free ‘Mini Drive’ available as well as the full version.

    Poppa.

  17. I’ve also used Advanced system care and upgraded regularly for quite a while, but now after the scan and repair of registry and spyware etc. it tells me that there are still hundreds of problems on my pc and I must upgrade (and pay)to have the problems sorted out. No problems according to Windows Defender or platinum XP, or trend micro, so AWC is history. not freeware anymore anyway, is it? Becoming like the other smart ass con artists.

  18. Great work.
    It’s always important to make sure that only 100% free & fully functional SW is listed. Also I beleive strongly that the SW must be easy to uninsatll, something too often overlooked.
    Thanks

  19. A good list.
    Avira antivirus is gaining a lot of support and is easy to use.
    Outpost Firewall is also gaining a lot of support. Too many problems with installing ZoneAlarm And some internet connection issues with Comodo that were unresolved.
    Easy Cleaner is better at finding unnecessary files than CCleaner, but I use them both. CCleaner is better at registry cleaning, but I don’t use that function very often.
    SyncBack is all you need to sync backup files. Easy/simple to use.
    I still like Karens PTReplicator for creating a backup of just data files.
    How about “Everything” for a search replacement?
    Everyone may call me crazy but I have stopped running all those malware/spybot programs as they haven’t found anything on my two computers for years.

  20. I’ve been using SmartDefrag by Iobit. For those who prefer a more hands-on and customizable approach, SmartDefrag has a number of options. The full optimize mode takes a little longer but the program overall is very effective. Curious that it’s not on the list.
    I’ve just tried AusLogics Disk Defrag. It is very simplified as compared to SmartDefrag so it completes a defrag sooner. It’s a small and simplified application with a few extras, including scheduling.
    I’ll hold on to them & decide which is better for me.

  21. Thought I’d give Google Chrome a go today, but decided to read some reviews first. Didn’t like that it always tells Google all about my pc. So instead I downloaded the SRWare Iron browser. Apparently a clone of chrome, but without reporting back all the time and its free too. So far so good. Works ok and quite fast. I’ve done all the scans since I’ve used it and not found any hinky stuff.

    PS also check out easy cleaner from Toni Arts. No trouble in years of using it. It has a reg cleaner, useless file cleaner, program uninstaller, and everything goes to the recycle bin (if you say so) and can be stored if necessary. So far I’ve never had to restore anything and I’ve used it hundreds of times. Of course other reg cleaners will always find entries easy cleaner missed, but then it also finds some that they missed. Freeware as well

  22. Comodo Firewall may or may not be a good firewall but if you don’t like it or have problems it can be extremely difficult to remove all vestiges of it, even with the tools the company provides.

  23. I have recently started to use “The World” browser. Lovely piece of kit, would reccommend it to all, You can get it from the MajorGeek. com site

  24. I agree with the one poster. Even tho I love this list it would be great to have it in a 32 bit and 64 bit listing.

    I would simple love that. I see no other changes at all. GREAT work here guys and I really like it.

    I have downloaded a few of the programs and I love the ones I picked. Thanks VERY much Pc Pitstop. There is no other web site that compares to Pc Pitstop. It is simply the BEST!!!!

  25. Cobian backup9 should also be on your list. Free, easy to use, different options. Been using it a couple of years now without any trouble. You only have to remember to change file names in the original drive, as well as the backup, otherwise it can’t find them and creates a whole new one. Shouldn’t be changing file names willy nilly anyway. Maybe newer versions will fix that.

  26. I used cute pdf for a long time and found it very good, but recently realised that its output files are quite big, similar to the msword original for example. I was recommended pdf-xchange, which kept putting little annoying logos on the corners of the printed page, so I tossed it. After lots of searching, I found Primopdf, which is also completely free, easy and reduces the msword files by about half, although other larger output options can be selected. Be careful which pdf writer you choose. Most of them are free and seem to work well, but a 1Mb msword doc can become a 7Mb pdf (one pdf writer even made it a 33Mb pdf) if you don’t check it out first.

    P.S. Primopdf quality was just fine at the lowest setting, meant for on-screen reading only, but it printed quite ok.

  27. I downloaded the synctoy and do kind of like it, as there seem to be no problems. The other one I like and can recommend for the freeware list is allway sync. It works very well and has lots of features. The only problem was that if you are going to back up large volumes of stuff, they want you to pay, which seems fair enough. For lower (reasonable / personal) volumes it is free free free. I tried to back up 8 yrs of work at once, which caused me a problem, (it was blocked for a month or so)otherwise it would have been perfect.

  28. Dear Ian Darroch,
    http://www.piriform.com offers Ccleaner and it is free. I offer to pay if you can send me a screen shot of the purchase order or whatever it says!

    Greenshot is the most simple and free screen capture utility i have used.
    Thanks, Girard for “Real Alternative”. I bought the gold version of Real Player and dumped it for the reasons you mentioned.I think Girard , we can be friends. Gurpreet’s choices are top-notch. I have learnt a lot today. thank you pitstop!

  29. I am very leery of drivermax. suggest avoiding it. it acts like malware, spyware. establishes itself deep inside your registry, difficult to uninstall, ccleaner wouldn’t touch it, had to use revo…
    limited benefits to their upgraded drivers, messed my old machine so badly I had to restore and MS notified me that I had had a very bad system error. I strongly suggest avoiding this product until the word is in. this could just be me being a dummy, but why take the chance? add to this that their roll back and restore functions are only available if you pay! something you don’t want to find out the hard way.
    Avast is a decent anti-virus, use the free version. 7Zip does everything winrar does and is truly free, although winrar continues to allow use long after the trial period is up.

  30. some of my favorites not mentioned here

    jpegcrops-batch photo cropping
    tweakui-adds more customizing options to xp, like removing arrows from your desktop icons and resizing thumbnails
    logonstudio-customize your xp login screen
    screenhunter-screen capture with more options than the printscreen key

  31. Hi Geoff, and Dwayne. I’ll have another try at DriverMax, but I couldn’t seem to get past the screen asking me to buy it. I get to the registration screen, and if I say no, nothing happens. If I say yes, it goes to the register screen and asks me to buy. It also brings up a screen asking for the registration key, which you presumably get when you buy. I can’t get past there, so I don’t know what I may be doing wrong. Just tried again, with exactly the same results.

  32. geoff, I have to agree with Keith that DriverMax is not truely ‘freeware’. Yes the program is free but unless upgrade to the pro(paid) version use is limited to 1 driver per day and many features are unavailable or have to be done manually(eg. free version, driver downloads send you to the DriverMax website to choose from a list – pro version downloads can be started right from the program). That said, i’d have to also say it is a great program as it is the only driver update software I have used that will, for free, download any drivers(or rather take you to a driver download page). Still at best DriverMax Free is a freeware/shareware hybrid, as true freeware is fully functional free of charge and free from optional donation notices(shareware).

  33. WordPerfect has a “Publish to PDF” feature. Essentially identical files (one had a minor correction) were so published. In one case file details called it an Acrobat file, the other a Foxit file. The Foxit file was about twice as long as the Acrobat file. Now all of my past PDF files are called Foxit Reader Documents. And the WordPerfect Publish to PDF feature no longer works.

    Destroying my ability to publish to PDF must be your way to force me to buy additions to Foxit reader. Thanks a lot!

  34. Thanks to all.This has been interesting and helpful reading.
    I would also like to sing the praises to Secunia PSI, Revo Uninstaller and Malwarebytes but would like to add a personal favourite of mine:-
    SIW (System information for Windows) from gtopala.com

  35. Another program that should be on the list is KeePass.
    KeePass is a free password manager that can be used with all browsers. KeePass can be installed on any computer or run from a usb drive.

  36. Although I’ve been using computers since the days of formatting your own hard drive and operating from the dot prompt, I’m far from being an expert. So I greatly appreciated both the first and updated lists. I learned a lot from the comments and found some really great applications. Thank you.

  37. I have tried out hundreds of programs, and the following selection exists on my every computer: irfanview, sumatra pdf (reader), cutepdf writer, 7zip, dscrypt, avg antivirus, vlc player, opera, and Turbo Navigator( version 1.471) – a fast two-pane file explorer with easy shortcuts; and Eve (from goosee.com). Each program is a freeware gem- small and compact, stable, fast, low on memory use, and covers a wide ground.

  38. Ian, I have never been asked to pay for CCleaner.

    About Foxit reader, I think it’s great but one big problem is it won’t take embedded links and I also have the paid version.

  39. 1st: AdAware remains free. There is always an option to download the free version. The purchase from a corporate sponsor is if you want the Pro version for free. You also have the choice of just purchasing the Pro version.

    2nd: I’ve been trying driver max and find it a bit frustrating. After finding the driver I have to wait 30 sec to initiate the download because I am not a pro user, next I have to wait 30 sec again after chosing to open the download because I am not a pro user. Finally after making it through all that I come to “pausing 60 min before retrying”.

    What ever happened to free AND functional?

  40. Driver detective is a good program but it is not freeware, as in order to do anything else other than scan the computer you have to pay for it to work and register!

  41. I am really surprised that CutePDF was not included in your list of free software.
    Oh the time and paper that I have saved over the past few years not to mention ink etc.
    Just about everyone has Adobe reader installed on their computer and any file created by cutepdf can be read by it.
    I used to print and file various articles in paper format and now simply have cutepdf set as my default printer and create a pdf file that I store and file in My Documents.
    For example, when running a test on PCPitstop instead of printing the results you can print it to cutepdf and file it away in case you need to replace equipment, software etc. or even share your results with a friend.
    I highly recommend this program to everyone.

  42. I tried CCleaner but is is not freeware because they ask you to pay.

    Why not separate out the ones that are actually free such as AVG?

    Yoor list is misleading.

  43. Art Says: I see you list WinRar as a free programme. It isn’t. Only the trial version is.

    Art if you would look at the list and read the article, you would know that WinRar is not listed as a free program.

  44. I just downloaded, and scanned with #30 DriverMax. It scanned okay, and gave a result, but then wouldn’t fix the problems, unless I bought the programme. Certainly doesn’t appear to be Freeware.

  45. Check out SumatraPDFPortable (portableapps.com)
    It makes all other readers look like bloatware and still gets the job done.

  46. I agree with Bill above, Advanced System Care by IObit is a great program. I own the paid version and it is worth every penny of the $19.95 purchase price, but they do have a free version also. (No, I am not CEO of IObit).

  47. Also surprised not to find irfanview on the list. Although relatively simple it does the job pretty well and is way less complicated than gimp, although doesn’t have as many features. I’ve installed it on virtually every computer I’ve had since it came out and use it as my primary image handler

  48. I note that pdf995 is not on your list. Excellent free pdf writer, with attendant extra programs. Admittedly there is a small fee to disable self-advertising if it annoys, but pdf995 has served me well for years, and been taken up by many friends. I manage advertising for a non-profit hobby magazine, and .pdfs are the easiest for advertisers to send. 995 excels every time.

  49. I tried every defragger listed and kept getting lousy C: drive scores until I started using Windows built-in defragger on a daily basis. It took a few days but now my Pitstop drive speed scores are consistently high and fragmentation is always low. I was beginning to suspect a conspiracy to sell Pitstop’s product but all is well now.

  50. I’m surprised that more folks haven’t found PhotoFiltre v6.3.2.
    Small in size (less than 2 mgb’s) and by far the fastest,most user friendly and intuitive photo editor available. The layout is great for relative newcomers, with + and – buttons for all the usual enhancing tools, dispensing measured amounts instead of playing with sliders, and placed directly over the work area, instead of having to hunt for everything.
    The Free version has everything but Layers and 8bf filter compatibility.

  51. True Crypt (#34) is a great file ENCRYPTION (not compression) program. I use it to encrypt all of my external hard drives.

  52. Avast is the BEST free anti-virus
    and Malware-bytes Anti-spyware is
    the Best of it’s kind. These two
    products along with Zonealarm will
    keep anyones computer safe.

  53. I still do not see Advanced SystemCare by IObit on the list….I use it every day, and it has never screwed up my laptop. I no longer use Window Washer (which I bought) years ago….it works better that Glary Utilities, and is not as tricky/harsh as Ccleaner can be.

  54. The last time I tried Foxit Reader, it would not allow me to use the USPS’s Priority Mail printing feature. So, Adobe Reader went back on.

  55. I agree with many of the programs mentioned here with the exception of RealPlayer which is free but buggy, bloated and full of ads. “Real Alternative” is a free (and ad free) player that will play RealAudio (.ra .rpm), RealMedia (.rm .ram .rmvb .rpx .smi .smil), RealText (.rt), ReadPix (.rp)

    An absolute essential (IMHO) that is not mentioned here is NoScript, which as a Firefox plugin, so I guess it really doesn’t belong.

  56. Much improved! Thank you for the effort.
    I’m not going to criticize any of the selections but would like to offer one suggestion. Add 32 and 64 bit availability to the information notes. Perhaps it’s even two lists; Top 32 bit freeware and another for x64

  57. Ad Aware was and still is a great software application. Regrettably, the newer versions require that you make some purchase from a corporate sponsor. This is annoying enough that it takes Ad Aware out of the free software category.

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