If you tire of trying to remember all the useful software tools that you might look for on a fresh install, we suggest you check out File Hippo, an excellent resource for the latest software.
In one location you’ll find download links for a huge range of open-source, freeware and shareware tools, utilities, media players, and much more. Some of our favourite web design tools are in there as well, including Notepad++ and MySQL. In addition to this, File Hippo have created their own update checker, which allows you to quickly find out if there are newer versions of your installed software available. In their own words:
With filehippo.com our aim is to provide you with the simplest method of downloading the newest versions of the best software – without the usual excessive popups or spyware and without the low quality software.
What’s on offer?
File Hippo have broken everything down into helpful categories:
- Browsers and Plugins
- File Sharing
- Messaging and Chat
- File Transfer
- Office and News
- Developer Tools
- Firewalls and Security
- Cleaning and Tweaking
- Compression and Backup
- Audio and Video
- CD and DVD Tools
It is certainly an extensive list and what’s more it’s kept vigorously up to date, even to the extent that they seem to get updates out faster than some software manages to self-update1.
Each piece of software they list has it’s own page, complete with a description of the software, some screen shots, and not just a download link but a collection of previous versions just in case an older version offers something you’re missing.
From a licensing point of view, File Hippo do show Commercial Trials and Shareware in addition to the Freeware and Open Source offerings, but they have a useful filter that allows you to cut out those trials and shareware, as well as being able to filter out beta versions of software.
All in all, not only have we found most of the software that we use regularly, but the site has also revealed a few useful tools which we hadn’t come across before such as XN View, Process Explorer, Maxthon and more.
The cherry on top!
If all of that isn’t enough to tweak your interest, then you need to know about the File Hippo Update Checker.
The update checker is a useful little utility that runs direct from a downloadable exe2, and scans your computer for what versions of software you have installed. They then take this information and sends it to their server to see if they can offer you any newer versions and/or beta versions.
It does require the Microsoft .NET framework, version 2.0, but of course this is available as a download on their site as well.
The Update Checker will not send any personal information back to filehippo.com. The only information collected is a list of programs and their versions, along with the operating system details to help with processing. Additionally none of this is linked to your IP address and the logs are deleted after processing.
The results are impressive. As you can see from the screen shot, everything from my ATI catalyst drivers, to IE and Non-IE versions of the latest flash player, to Google Desktop (which is meant to be self-updating as well!). In addition to this, File Hippo picked up 7 beta versions of software we have installed, of which 3 or 4 will definitely be tested out.
We recommend you check out their site, and feel pretty sure you’ll be going back there over and again.