There's never enough hours in the day, so we've rounded up a list of our five favourite time-saving applications, from easy-to-use databases to home faxing software, we guarantee they'll save you time.

Supercharge Excel

As I've come to appreciate just how well Microsoft Excel can work, I've also gained a better understanding of its shortcomings, which is where a little £30-per-year gem called DigDB for Excel comes in.

This program from Data Instruments Group adds handy features to Excel, improves existing ones, and makes the application easier to use. For everything from tracking down broken links to generating median values to trimming errant spaces, this software is certainly worth the price of admission, plus you can try it free for 15 days.

Ditch the fax machine

When I need to send a fax to my home office or receive one from there, I use TrustFax from Comodo. The service is less well known than eFax or MyFax, but what I like about it, besides the fact its clean, easy-to-use web interface, is its pricing options for light fax users like me.

I pay TrustFax $30 (about £15) a year for a fax number, 50 outbound and 150 inbound fax pages, and online storage. To use the service I scan my document in my multifunction printer, upload the file to the TrustFax web site, and send it off. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Make pretty pictures

Sometimes I need more than a well-crafted sentence to get my point across. I need boxes, circles, and arrows. That's when I turn to SmartDraw, a business-graphics app from the company of the same name. After a free trial, it costs $297 (£149). It's pricey, but you can often find it deeply discounted at SmartDraw's website, and if you've ever struggled to make flowcharts, time lines, mind maps, or even floor plans, you'll love it.

NEXT PAGE> Add-ons for databases and folder sharing that will save you time

  1. Save precious time with our software picks
  2. Add-ons for databases and folder sharing that will save you time

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks

There's never enough hours in the day, so we've rounded up a list of our five favourite time-saving applications, from easy-to-use databases to home faxing software, we guarantee they'll save you time.

Try everyman's database

Though the term database strikes fear into many hearts, not all database apps require a knack for constructing clever queries. The venerable AskSam, now on version 6.1 (with 7 in beta), lets you store all sorts of data, from Word documents to email to web pages, that you can retrieve with simple, free-form word searches.

I keep a close eye on several tech markets, and I use AskSam as my personal data clearinghouse. It isn't perfect, you'll spend a little time getting up to speed, and the 'Add web page to AskSam' feature works only with Internet Explorer (come on!) but it's an immensely useful tool. After a free trial, the standard version is $150 (£75); the faster Pro version is $395 (£198).

Share and share alike

Besides making it dead simple to keep documents synched among my multiple PCs, Microsoft's newly revamped FolderShare service saved my butt when my beloved home-built PC failed to boot one recent morning.

Since the files that I had been working on were synched to my work laptop before I shut down, I didn't have to scramble to retrieve them from my PC's hard drive (or even from my online backup service of choice, Carbonite. Best of all, the beta FolderShare service remains free.

  1. Save precious time with our software picks
  2. Add-ons for databases and folder sharing that will save you time

Visit Business Advisor for the latest business IT news, reviews, tips and tricks