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14 favourite free internet tools

Downloads to help you with your life online

We've put together the best 14 software downloads. We've got a universal messenger, a way to troubleshoot email problems, and programs to keep yourself safe. These are the software tools that come to the rescue. And best of all, most of them are free.


The internet was created as a way to bring people closer, but in some ways, it drives people apart. If you're an AOL Instant Messenger user, for example, you can't communicate with someone who uses Yahoo Messenger.

And there's no simple way from an instant messaging program to check your presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, or to check email from a web-based mail site not associated with your instant messenger.

Until Digsby came along, that is. This program is a universal instant messenger, like long-time favorites Trillian and Pidgin. But it does them one better because with it, you can also check your social-networking sites and email accounts.

It's simple to set up any instant messaging, social networking, or mail accounts from within the program. And it lets you use just about all the features of any of those programs, such as sending files via instant messaging. Considering that it's free as well, there's no reason not to give this tool a try.

When you install this program, by the way, it changes your home page to a Digsby home page, so if you want to retain your current home page, make sure to go into your browser and change it.

SMTP Diagnostics

Most of the time, sending email messages goes off without a hitch. Set up your email program to work with an SMTP server, send your messages, and you're done. But sometimes the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) won't work, and it's almost impossible to figure out what's wrong. Your email program won't give you any clue about what the error might be. All in all, it can be one of the most maddening of internet-related problems.

SMTP diagnostics helps. It performs a complete set of diagnostics on your SMTP connection and provides an in-depth report about any errors. You can then either use the report yourself to fix the problem, or send the report to your ISP or network administrator, who can track down the cause of the woes.

The program is particularly useful if you're setting up an email account for the first time and can't make a connection, or if you're on the road and can't send mail through a hotel's broadband connection or a wireless hotspot.

This client is about as good as it gets when it comes to FTP. It has a simple interface that you can master in about three minutes, yet still has plenty of powerful features, such as being able to compare local and remote directories. It also lets you have multiple simultaneous connections, for faster transfers. It's not free, but there is a 30-day free trial.

Price: $12 (£6) - but with a 30-day free trial.

NEXT PAGE: Free security downloads

  1. Downloads to help you with your online life
  2. Foxit Reader and Advanced LAN Scanner
  3. More downloads to help you solve problems online
  4. Downloads to make email and IM easier
  5. Digsby and SMTP diagnostics
  6. Free security downloads

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