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14 fabulous freeware applications

Never pay for software again

Never pay for software again. Why? Well, clever people keep turning out great new programs and giving them away! Here's our latest collection of cool software that will cost you absolutely nothing to download, try, use, or keep. Visit PC Advisor's Downloads site for even more great free software.

Free file-management software

Windows Explorer doesn't do everything. That's where free downloads come in handy. Here are some extras to fill in the gaps in your file-management chores. Get the download on the latest freebies on the web at Broadband Advisor.

Check file contents fast. Let's face it: filenames don't always tell the whole story about what's inside a file. Sure, you can open files in the programs that created them. But who wants to open a half-dozen huge programs when all you need to know is the basic contents of a document?

Vista lets you add a preview pane to its Explorer, but what are XP users to do? Alexey Torgashin's Universal Viewer to the rescue. This free utility lets you peek inside a variety of common file types (graphics, PDF, HTML, and many more) just by right-clicking and choosing the Universal Viewer command. Install the plug-in for Microsoft Office (a separate free download), and you can view Word and Excel files as well.

Navigation buttons make it easy to skim through all files in a folder. To get more features (such as an Explorer-like tree pane for navigation as well as rudimentary file-management capabilities), you'll have to shell out around a tenner for the personal version.

Recover deleted files. Everybody makes mistakes. You emptied the Recycle Bin without thinking, or some other person or even a program deleted the file you really wanted. Now what? The easiest answer is Restoration, which attempts to recover all or parts of deleted files whose bytes still lurk on your hard drive.

The more recent the deletion, the better your chances, since Restoration can't help you if other files or programs occupy the location of your now-deleted document.

But it's always worth a try. Restoration can also be used as a shredder to completely destroy the files it does find. The entire utility is very small (4 files totaling 4K), requires no installation (just unzipping), and can even be run from a floppy or USB flash drive. Restoration is the creation of Brian Kato.

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