Download free (mostly) stuff!
By CNN Interactive Writer David Mandeville
A wealth of free, or at least mostly free, software awaits you. It ranges from games to plug-ins to full applications. All you have to do is find it.
And that's easier than you might think.
'I got it at filez.com'
Well, not technically at filez.com, but that's where I found the link to it. Filez let's you search a huge array of software sites, including archives, news groups and corporate freebies. Plus, you can also find graphics, sound files, and video.
Filez' search can be customized, letting you look through the entire index or just a portion of it defined by file type, download source, and operating system. Or you can take a look at lists of new files or top pick downloads. Where available, the site offers multiple download sources so you can pick the one that works fastest for you.
Filez is also multilingual, offering the list in German, French, Spanish and Swedish as well as English.
Perhaps you would prefer another site, maybe DOWNLOAD.COM or SHAREWARE.COM, two of c|net's sites. These also point you to downloadable freeware and shareware.
The lists of available software are nicely categorized on both sites. At DOWNLOAD.COM, the page generation process used automatically detects what computer platform you're using and gives you a Macintosh or Windows page.
Both offer a quick search to help you find what you want and a selection of featured software. You can also register for an e-mail newsletter on either site that will keep you updated on new features, finds and releases.
You don't have to go with the big guys
The big, ad-driven sites aren't the only kids on the block. You can also go directly to the sites like InfoMac or the wuarchive, run by and/or mirrored at universities.
Or you can use your favorite search engine to hunt for specific applications. A quick search on my favorite turned up 3,720 entries, a little daunting, but also a good indicator of just how much is out there.
About shareware and freeware
The biggest difference between share- and freeware should be obvious -- one is free, the other isn't. Freeware usually comes from people who don't need to make money on the product, like corporations giving away upgrades, demos and add-ons. Shareware is usually made by people who found a need for a piece of software and decided to let the rest of have access to it. Please, if you plan to keep and use a piece of shareware, register and pay for it.