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GBIC >> Freeware >> Freeware Sites
Freeware Sites
In addition to the recommendations that I've made for freeware you may want to browse some of the other freeware sites on the web. To help you find the best sites, I've provided the table below which shows the features offerred by the various sites. I also provide a ranking of the site to help you narrow in on only the best sites available.

Freeware Sites (Ranked) Site Rating System The Perfect Site
Other Sites Rejected Sites


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Freeware Sites (Ranked)

The sites are listed in rank order, with the highest rated sites at the top. If two sites have equal ratings (same number of stars), the number of files available at the site is then used to determine the position in the table.

To help guide your selection of a site the table shows which of 20 different features are available at the sites. At some sites I also provide a short comment to identify any unusual or particularly helpful aspect of the site.

If you have any questions about what the content of each column means, look at the heading description further down this page. Also, if you have any sites that you would like to see included in the list, just send me an email with the URL and I'll check it out.

All of these sites allow free access to the freeware listed at the site. But where an "*" is listed under 'Fee', the site offers additional site features or visitor privileges - usually for an annual fee of around $25.

This table can be scrolled to the right to see all of the features evaluated for each site.

Here's a brief description of what the headings mean in the tables above.


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Site Rating System

To rate the sites I created a point system. Features which I consider must-haves get one point. All other features get 0.5 points. Negative features get minums one point. Here's the list of features and the associated points:
    +1 point+0.5 points-1 point
    1000 filesNews LettersUsage Fee
    500 filesForumsAdversitements
    25 categories#DownloadsPopUps
    Home LinkLocal Files 
    Screen ShotSort 
    Popular ListUser Comments 
    Search  
    SW Ratings  
    Latest Changes  
    File Size  
    Version  
    Release Date  

With a maximum possible score of 15 points (all good features and none of the bad), stars are awarded according to points as follows,

    Earned
    Points
    Stars
    1-3 points1
    4-6 points2
    7-9 points3
    >9 points4

About a third of the sites do not use advertising. Those sites that do use advertising tend to have more files and offer more features. So, if you have a preference for sites with no advertising, you might reconsider the potential benifits of sites with advertising. I found the advertising to be a minimal distraction on most sites.

If you visit sites that use popup windows (which I really do hate!) you may want to use one of the products such as Popup-Stopper.


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The Perfect Site

In addition to the features listed in the site table above, the following features should also be a part of the perfect site. My ranking of sites will eventually incorporate all of these.

    Desired FeaturesDescription
    #Downloads the number of user downloads for each application is given (recent week, month, and year)
    Detailed Reviews more than a sentence or two of description, including comparisons with other, similar applications
    Comparative Reviews identification of competing applications and what distringuishes one over the other
    Instant Submittal files submitted by authors should be immediately available, possibly in a 'pending' file until the webmaster decides whether to keep it
    Links Status notification to users as to the % of links that are active, monitored at least weekly
    CD ability to create a shopping list of files which the webmaster will charge a nominal fee to create and mail a CD with the files on it
    Same Author list of all files at the site by the same author
    Email Option ability to email the URL to someone
    Broken Link simple way to report a broken link - available directly from the description page for each link without going through the user's email system
    System Requirements    identify which Operating Systems the application can be used under
    Pro Version if an improved version, with more features, is available from the author

This next list covers those features which I would consider to be a negative for a site. As I mentioned earlier, there may be valid reasons why the webmaster wants or must use these features, but from the site visitor's viewpoint, these features are not desirable. I have seen all of these features used at many sites.

My ranking of sites takes already takes some of these into account. I'll eventually use them all.

    Negative FeaturesDescription
    Intermingled Freeware/Shareware Having both is fine, but a site should have a way to browse them separately
    Advertising It gets in the way of the navigational ease of the site and distracts the visitor
    PopUp Windows This is even more distracting that simple advertising. I leave sites that have popups.
    Adware / Spyware a freeware site should not include these. if this rule is broken, such files must at least be clearly marked
    Expiration freeware applications listed cannot expire (by date, number of trials, ...)
    Usage Fee While the need to fund the webmaster is legitimate, the visitor's goal is to have no site access fees
    Plug-in's no new browser plug-in's should be necessary to visit the site
    Non-Software Free Stuff    Lots of people want sites with free stuff, but please keep it away from freeeware
    Images Icons, cursors, wallpaper, screensavers, and other images are not applications.
    Short Pages splitting a list of files into multiple pages is a pain to navigate


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Other Sites

There are also some smaller, specialty freeware sites which I'd recommend. These tend to be small sites with limited features but because of their content I want to specificially recommend them.
  1. 256b.htm Compo
  2. <web4096>
  3. the5k.org

There are also some huge shareware sites that you should consider. These sites also have freeware but do not emphasize the freeware.

  1. CNET
  2. SimTel.net
  3. TUCows


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Rejected Sites

These sites were reviewed, but were not included in my list of freeware sites for the following reasons:
  • Coma's Freeware List - inactive, no updates since 2002
  • Freeware Publishing Site - inactive, no updates since 2001
  • NeverExpires - has adware/demos mixed with freeware, cannot separate
  • SofoTex - shareware and freeware mixed together, cannot separate