Use the Web to assemble a low-cost toolkit

A plethora of powerful Windows 2000 and Windows NT utilities are available for download on the Web. Although many of these tools are low-cost shareware programs, a large number of them are freeware utilities that cost you no more than the time required to download and install them—and many of these freeware utilities are every bit as useful as their for-purchase counterparts. In this Top 10, I share some of my favorite download sites.

10. SystemTools.com (http://www.systemtools.com/) provides a collection of third-party software and freeware utilities. Although other sites might have larger libraries, all of SystemTools.com's tools are devoted to Win2K and NT systems management and administration.

9. Download.com (http://download.cnet.com/) provides a variety of general-purpose software and administrative and system utilities. You'll find an incredible breadth of tools at this site, but more recent versions might be available from the source Web sites.

8. NTToolbox.com (http://www.nttoolbox.com/) contains an impressive collection of administrative tools, a short FAQ page, and an entertaining pop quiz. Unfortunately, this site is slow and has an annoying habit of attempting to make itself your home page.

7. NetAdminTools.com (http://netadmintools.com/) offers a collection of multiplatform network-administration tools that focus primarily on Win2K, NT, and UNIX. Most of the software available at this site is commercial, but you'll find a smattering of free tools, technical tips, and links to related sites.

6. Beverly Hills Software (http://www.bhs.com/) provides a variety of Internet, administrative, and system utilities. This well-maintained site's software listings are admirably up-to-date. Be sure to take a look at the interesting Top Downloads section, the New Tech Jobs listing, and the Latest News links.

5. The Windows Users Group Network (WUGNET— http://wugnet.com/) is somewhat difficult to navigate, but the site boasts a large selection of general-purpose software, including many Internet and security utilities. One of the site's most interesting features is its Shareware Hall of Fame, which lists popular shareware utilities for Win2K, NT, and Windows 9x.

4. WinFiles.com (http://winfiles.com/) presents an unusual Windows-style interface—and an extensive collection of shareware, bug fixes, device drivers, software reviews, and technical tips. You'll find a large selection of administrative and networking utilities at this site, which conveniently lists each product's platform, pricing, and licensing information.

3. ZDNet Downloads (http://www.zdnet.com/downloads/) provides a huge library of downloadable software. Although this site's performance is sometimes abysmal, ZDNet Downloads offers many types of software, including tools for education, gaming, multimedia, and general business.

2. Tucows.Com (http://www.tucows.com/) is usually the first site I visit when I'm looking for general-purpose and networking utilities. The site's five-cow rating system is a fairly reliable guide to software quality. On top of a wide assortment of Win2K, NT, and Win9x software, this site lets you download tools for Macintosh, Linux, BDSI, and even BeOS.

1. SysInternals (http://www.sys internals.com/) is the best resource for administrative and system tools on the Web. The free- ware cousin of Winternals Software (http://www.winternals .com/), SysInternals offers useful utilities that you won't find anywhere else. All the site's tools are free for downloading, and many of them come with complete source code.