Best Free Audio-Video Format Conversion Program

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There are many different audio and video formats out there, and most devices (such as the iPod) and programs (such as Windows Media Player) are only compatible with a few specific formats. An AVI or WMV movie will not play on an iPod, for example, without being converted into an MP4 file first.

There are quite a few programs that will do this for free, with more popping up all the time.  They tend to fall into a few general categories:

  • If you want to convert audio & video easily, with a polished interface, support for virtually all file types including online video websites, and an integrated precision video editor, I recommend that you try our Top Pick.
  • If you want to convert without fiddling with any settings, using as few clicks as possible, try our Device-Specific Picks, which are especially suited to quickly setting up a conversion for a portable device.
  • If you want to have control over basic settings (such as framerate, frame size, and bitrate), yet still experience a quick, low-frustration conversion where most of the guesswork is done for you and you don't need to be an expert to get the job done, try our General Converter Picks.  Our Top Pick is in this category.
  • If you want complete control over every detail of your conversion task, where you have the ability to fine-tune your output using settings that most of us, including the Reviewer, don't even understand, then you may be interested in looking at our Custom-Oriented Picks.
  • If you only want to convert audio files, yet you want more audio-specific functionality, then try our Audio-Only Picks.
  • And lastly, if you're looking to convert a wide range of file types, from video to audio to documents to images, and you want to do it on the fly, you might want to check out an Online Conversion Website service.  There are sometimes file-size restrictions with these services, but they offer the convenience of being accessible from any browser.

While some are better than others overall, which one is best for you will depend on what sort of program you need.

Note:  If you want to rip video directly from a DVD, click here to view the Best Free DVD Ripper page..


Device-Specific Picks

Pazera Video Converters Suite Pazera Converter Screenshot is really a package of several separate device converters with a common launcher. Each converter is powerful, with several presets for device, custom tweaking/profiles, multiple-file support, all in a simple text-based interface. If you don't mind the launcher, you could effectively use it as a hybrid converter.


Miro ImageFor even easier device conversion, there is Miro Video Converter. With just a dozen device presets and support for only one file at a time, it may not be the best choice for power users. However, its simple interface is 'newbie-proof', and conversion quality is on a par with other programs.


Also recommended:

  • XMedia Recode: Like Miro but with a less polished UI.  It supports multiple simultaneous files and more devices.
  • DVDVideoSoft Free: Pazera without custom tweaks; has neat tricks like Youtube downloading and video tweaking. This product is bundled with OpenCandy. See this article for more information. It will also attempt to install a toolbar which you may not want.
  • Handbrake:  A long-time favorite of mine, when I need to convert from just about any format to a nice, no-nonsense iPod/iPhone compatible video (encoded in H.264).  It has a queue, and supports multiple Apple presets including Apple TV.

General Converter Picks

Freemake Video Converter is the new Top Pick.  The interface is about as polished as it gets, and the code behind the interface is stable, flexible, and powerful.  Using Freemake is a linear, seamless experience with no frustration.

What I do find frustrating, however, is that the developer has now added OpenCandy to their installer.  For more information about this bundled software, I recommend you read this article.  Please see the last paragraph of this review for information on how you can opt out of this.

Now, back to the awesome stuff.  With Freemake, you can convert most any format of video or audio with this handy piece of freeware, along with DVD's, photos, and even web embedded media from sites like YouTube, Google, and Vimeo.  There are lots of presets and quite a few options, giving the software best-in-class capabilities.  The visual cues are easy to follow, pretty much guiding you from start to finish on any conversion task and providing a more user-friendly experience than most other software.

This software can make use of DXVA and CUDA (two methods of hardware accelerated encoding) to boost speeds.  I was only able to use DXVA on my test computer, so you may get faster encodes with your machine.  On my laptop, I had an NVidia card, and Freemake actually displayed a message recommending that I update my video card drivers to make use of CUDA acceleration.  Freemake took 39 minutes to produce its output using an Auto Bitrate setting, with a two-pass encode.  It took under 15 minutes to do a one-pass encode.  Handbrake took 33 minutes using a Constant Quality RF:20 setting.  The quality of all three test encodes was excellent, with no apparent difference from the original.  You won't find advanced encoding settings anywhere in this interface, so if you're looking to fine-tune your output, I recommend moving on to something like Handbrake, Format Factory, or FFCoder.

I would have loved to give this software 10/10 stars, however there was one negative aspect to Freemake Video Converter: the bundled Freemake Toolbar and OpenCandy softwares.  The toolbar is set to install by default unless you choose otherwise on the first page of the install wizard.  To their credit, the Privacy Policies and/or EULA's are easily available for all bundled software. OpenCandy, on the other hand, does not have a checkbox to toggle its install.  Instead, you'll have to roll up your sleeves and install from the command-line if you want to opt out of it.  Here's how:  Hit Start, then 'Run' the install file with the /nocandy switch.  It will still show you the EULA for it, however there will be an option at the very end of the install to 'not install' the software OpenCandy recommends for you.  Even without the /nocandy switch, you can still uncheck the box, but for some reason the switch will trade in the check-box for 2 separate radio button choices (Yes or No).  It's a lot to worry about and go through, but this software really is top-notch in most other ways.

Although their website defaults to an "online installer", they do host offline installers, available here.


When iWisoft Free Video Converter starts, it automatically launches your browser for an upgrade check and displays a web page, which I found annoying.  Aside from this, I didn't find much else to complain about.  Its interface is extremely clean, well organized, and easy to use. It has a complete and well-organized collection of presets, and supports making and saving basic tweaks, too. It even has a few pleasant surprises, such as a basic built-in editing suite, with features like cropping, splitting, joining, and watermarking.  In short, this program is an outstanding choice for most device conversions.


FormatFactory ScreenShotAnother excellent choice (especially for old phones and DVD ripping) is Format Factory. It has presets for over 100 devices, converts to and from dozens of formats, and allows for advanced tweaking and custom profiles. On the downside, the sidebar-and-popup interface does not provide a linear experience.  You'll find that you can not drag'n'drop into the windows that look like you should be able to, and you have to open & close a couple of windows in order to end up back at the starting screen, where you finally get to hit START.  This being said, once you learn the interface, you'll find it responsive, stable, and easy to drill down to the exact settings you are looking for. Overall, this program is a good choice for power or device users who find iwiSoft lacking.

NOTE:  When installing Format Factory, watch out for the bundled toolbar.  It is installed by default if you don't uncheck the box on the first screen of the installer package.

A portable version of this software is also available at LiberKey, which is a superb portable application manager.



Also recommended:

  • Ultimate Video Converter: Only handles single files, but simplest converter with both iPod and custom settings
  • SGI's Video Converter: More cluttered than the top two, but has "flatter" interface and more conversion options for power users.
  • YouTube Downloader HD:  This program is a gem in the world of YouTube ripping.  It allows you to copy/paste a YouTube link, choose your video quality, and download it to your computer for future viewing.  In the latest version, you can now choose to have it automatically convert the .FLV file to an iPod/iPhone compatible .MP4 file, or an XViD .AVI for playback on many devices.

Custom-Oriented Picks

If you need to make complex, custom jobs, FFCoder is the standout choice for its coherence. Like most programs in this review, it has an excellent device preset list, the ability to convert multiple files at once, and a simple, sleek interface. Where FFCoder stands out is its support of highly advanced configuration for each of the dozens of video formats and codecs, down to lighting and rendering settings. Despite a few dependencies (listed below) and a steep learning curve for any tweaks past the presets, this is the best converter for almost any power user, device owner or not.

One of my favorite FFCoder features is the Directory Watch.  You can setup FFCoder so that it monitors a folder for files matching a filename pattern, which will be automatically converted using the selected settings.  It can be a bit confusing to set up, however I found I got the best results when setting the wildcard filename pattern to something other than *.* (such as *.avi).

There were two things I didn't like about FFCoder.  The first is that is always creates Start Menu entries in the Administrator account, regardless of which non-admin account is being used to install it.  This is fairly minor though, contrasted with all the powerful features.  The second drawback is that it seems to be less stable on 64-bit Windows systems every now and again.  I ran into .DLL errors and missing presets, which strangely were intermittent problems.  I've spoken with the author and it looks like many of these bugs will be worked out in the next release.


Also recommended:

  • SUPER:  Great for small, obscure tweaks. Has a simple but annoying interface. This program is bundled with OpenCandy. See this article for more information.
  • XVID4PSP: Supports very many tweaks. Impossibly fragmented interface. Solid AviSynth support.

Audio-Only Picks

Pazera Free Audio Extractor is the audio-only program in the above-mentioned Pazera Video Converters Suite. It supports both video and audio input and output to many formats, and is slightly simpler than some of its sibling programs. Otherwise, it is perfectly identical.



Online Conversion Websites

Video to Mp3 I was asked to checkout a web site converter for Youtube and Dailymotion videos. This site is set up to convert video to four set formats Mp3(128 kbt/s & 256 kbit/s ), flv, mp4 and 3gp.

This is a wonderful idea, but does it work lets see....

I started the test with an Mp3 convert and WOW finished in a matter of seconds and my result was ready to download. Ok lets check out some of these other bad boy options. Next I selected the Mp4 option and clicked the convert button and nothing. EMMM I thought well it is a video conversion so it will take more time. I waited until the next day nothing. After a full 24 hours still nothing. I reloaded the page and recopied the URL started a new convert. After 6 hours nothing and then my browser crashed ooops. I started a third again after 24 hours nothing. I am not saying it wont work for you as different configurations of bandwidth, browsers etc may be different but don't get your hopes up.

Next up the flv now I was thinking that a lot of Youtube video is in format flv so this should be quick but again after 3 days and 3 tests I had 0 results. At least this time my browser did not crash lol. So without much Enthusiasm I tried the 3gp option and hey what you know it worked first time and quite quickly about 30 minutes.

Having said all this if anyone wants a Youtube video in basic no frills mp3 audio from a Youtube video then this is a viable option and simple to use just copy and paste a Youtube URL into box, choice format and click convert and when it is ready download finished product, easy.



Zamzar is an excellent website when you're on the run.  It doesn't allow you to customize the encoding settings, however it makes up for that somewhat with its portability and flexibility.  If you have a browser with internet access, you have Zamzar.  If you have any file, you can convert it to any other type of file in the same class.  For example, you can convert video files, audio files, photos (ex: .JPG to .PNG), archives (ex: .RAR to .ZIP), documents (ex: .PDF to .DOC), and eBooks (ex: .LIT to .EPUB).  You can even paste a URL (ex: YouTube) and it'll download the embedded video for you and convert it.  Once the conversion is done, they email you a link to download the finished product.

This email-based file retrieval can be either a pro or a con depending on how you look at it.  It's more fuss than there really needs to be in the process, however it gives you the flexibility of converting a Youtube video from a computer where you can't download the content, such as when at work behind a proxy or at a public library.  When you get home, you can then download the finished conversion immediately using the email link.  I first used Zamzar over a year ago, and to this day I have never received unsolicited email from them.

There is a 100MB file limit for free use, but you can upgrade that to 200MB and get about 5GB of online storage if you want to pay their fairly steep monthly prices.  For most users, the free services are more than adequate.



Tested and not recommended:

To Be Reviewed:

  • Avanti
  • DVDVideoSoft (re-review)
  • Miksoft Mobile Media Converter
  • Mediacoder
  • Motion Man by Blink Solution
  • MeGUI
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Quick Selection Guide

Freemake Video Converter
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Great interface, very flexible, support for almost every type of conversion, easy to use
Bundled toolbar (you can opt out, but it's a multi-click process) Bundled OpenCandy
1.21 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP/Vista/7, .NET Framework
Pazera Video Converters Suite
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Excellent presets, easy to use, custom profiles
Looks intimidating, separate programs for each output type, no advanced tweaks. Contains unwanted bundled components. Take care to avoid these during the install process.
21.3 MB
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Miro Video Converter
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Brutally easy-to-use device conversion
Only one file at a time, no profile or generic tweaking, only MP4
425.09 KB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows and Mac OSX
iWisoft Free Video Converter
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple polished interface, file and preset editing allowed, many device presets
Checks for updates and launches the browser on startup, requires Windows Media Player
8.7 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.

Portable version available here.

Format Factory
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Stable with many device presets. Supports all video file formats. Rips DVD's & Music CD's. Very powerful software.
Installer is bundled with a toolbar (you are able to opt out), interface is non-linear and somewhat confusing.
58.88 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 and 8 (NET Framework)
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Solid preset list, highly advanced tweaks, sleek interface
Dependencies, no installer
38 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista/7
Pazera Free Audio Extractor
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Great presets, supports many input and output formats, easy to use, custom profiles
No advanced tweaks. Contains unwanted bundled components. Take care to avoid these during the install process.
Unrestricted freeware
This product is portable.
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Cross-platform, simple interface, good presets, complete features, video quality is excellent, DVD ripping, subtitle support
No preview window in the Windows version, slow encoding (based on settings chosen), output formats limited to MPEG-4 and H.264
13.63 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
MacOS 32/64-bit, Windows XP/Vista/7 32-bit, Fedora 15 32/64-bit, Ubuntu


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by Anupam on 17. November 2009 - 9:26  (36762)

I agree with you. FormatFactory is my choice too. It offers so many conversions... audio, video, images, and can even rip DVDs too. I also found it to be useful both for average, and experienced users.


by Arithmomaniac on 18. November 2009 - 22:37  (36865)

Thanks for the MediaCope and Koyote tips. I'll have revised reviews soon.
A clarification...Koyote does AV conversion. It just does not convert from or to MP3, AAC, etc. They have a seperate converter for that, which I need to review also.

by Anupam on 19. November 2009 - 20:45  (36931)

Very welcome :).

I checked Koyote Video Converter today. It does not do audio conversion... only videos. It can extract audio from the video file, and convert it to another format though. But it does not accept audio file as an input, and convert it to another audio format.

I tried MediaCope today too. It requires .NET framework SP1... and I think that will be a disadvantage for the product, as many users do not like to install .NET frameworks unnecessarily... including myself.
I however tested it on my cousin's PC, after installing .NET 2.0 SP2.
The program looks good, and the interface is different. But the video conversion part was very unsatisfactory... even useless in my opinion. The FPS were 30 and 24, which are not exact. 29.97 is for NTSC and 25 for PAL. Further, even the display resolution choices are not standard. Quite disappointing. I wouldn't want to convert my videos with MediaCope, unless they offer some standard attributes.

I haven't checked on the other features... so can't say about that. But, the main was the video conversion, and it was disappointing.

I checked out the audio converter though, and noticed that it allows conversion to AC3 too, a feature which I have not seen in another audio converters.


by Anonymous on 12. November 2009 - 13:33  (36495)

Name of this article is "Best Free Audio / Video Format Conversion Program" and Gizmo's top pick doesn't support audio conversion at all? Also it doesn't work on my system because I don't have installed Microsoft .NET Framework.

by Arithmomaniac on 16. November 2009 - 0:00  (36693)

If you want similar audio conversion, try X2X (which I'll co-nominate in a future edit).

As for .NET, just get it. I used to hate it, but it's basically a key part of programming for Windows now.


by Anonymous on 11. November 2009 - 18:38  (36433)

Based on the recommendations here I have tried both Formatfactory and Mediacoder. I wanted to convert a batch of wmv's to avi (xvid)as a test, with specific bitrates, custom resizing, and audio to mp3. Neither one worked satisfactorily.

Formatfactory does not allow custom resizing, nor bitrate settings above 2400 (or something like that).

Mediacoder produced avi's that were not recognised by Virtualdub as proper avi files, despite the fact that it seemed to have used XVID to do the encoding (according to MediaInfo).

Neither seem to have advanced filtering either (gamma, colour, noise, blocking, smoothing etc).

It is possible that both can do what I want, but the configuration options to do so were not easily detectable.

I have been using Super for several years and have had no problem with its interface, and at least it reliably works to give me what I want. It looks like I have to stay with Super + Virtualdub.

by Anonymous on 8. November 2009 - 17:16  (36224)

There is so much to read here, and I have one basic question...this coming from a newbie: I just want to burn a movie I downloaded to a dvd+r. It is a mp4 file. I use win. media player (pc, win 7) & it doesn't support mp4 or avi, which I also need. Is there a free program out there that would do this? Nothing fancy...simple simple simple.

by Arithmomaniac on 2. November 2009 - 2:51  (35609)

Hi, everyone! I'm sorry that this page hasn't been updated recently, but I've been very busy. DVDVideosoft will replace XMedia in my next review.


by Anonymous on 22. October 2009 - 23:51  (35285)

MEDIACODER is as fast if not faster than Format Factory because it is more customizable. If you don't know what you are doing you get the beginner preset Format Factory. As soon as you learn what variable bit rate, keyframes, and rate distortion optimization are, thats when you make some fireworks with MEDIACODER

by Anonymous on 19. October 2009 - 17:30  (35008)

I would just like to put in a comment for MEDIACODER, mainly because of all the complaining and whining I see for it being buggy. Yes you do need to know what you are doing when you use MEDIACODER. Yes it is buggy and is picky on settings. BUT, there is NO free software that can encode all types of media with as high quality as MEDIACODER. Can you say H264 video with almost all the command line options, provided in the GUI! Prove me wrong. Somebody will try.

by Anonymous on 8. October 2009 - 13:25  (34165)

WMP can covert files to MP3 format for you. The concern is for videos and the ipod vedio converter works very well for conversions of many different formats to MP4 and the best thing is that it is free.

by Anonymous on 7. October 2009 - 0:25  (34078)

AutoGordianKnot would this program not nave a place in here?

by Anonymous on 29. September 2009 - 8:21  (33516)

the download page for format factory has this warning "Attention: NOD32 was wrong to report virus, Please don't worry.
We promise there are no harmful code in FormatFactory." on it today (29th sept 09). now i'm worried! is it safe?

by Anonymous on 16. October 2009 - 17:48  (34806)

OH! It is infected alright! Instantly, ground my system to a virtual halt! STAY AWAY!!!!

by Anupam on 16. October 2009 - 17:53  (34808)

I used it just a couple of days ago.. and FormatFactory works really well, without any issue. It did a great job of converting video files.


by Anonymous on 3. October 2009 - 1:26  (33809)

If it's safe. What caused the NOD32

Birdog from the flatlands of Kansas

by MidnightCowboy on 3. October 2009 - 10:33  (33833)

It may be a false positive or it may not. The only way is to check this out for yourself by uploading the file detected to VirusTotal and then making a decision from the results displayed there.

by Arithmomaniac on 1. October 2009 - 0:47  (33674)

I'm still using it.

by Anonymous on 27. September 2009 - 3:04  (33378)

I have to say I think this is the best-managed category on the site. Consistently and conscientiously updated, the info is accurate and useful...just a great job. Arithmomaniac: thanks!

P.S. have recently bought a Mac machine which I am typing from now. Apparently Mac folks swear by Handbrake so, although my experience with it on Windows was that it was unreliable and disappointing, I will try it again at some point on this Mac and relay my impressions here.

by Anonymous on 27. September 2009 - 7:34  (33389)

Ok, as follow up...I decided to try right away. And I am sorry (and absolutely amazed) to say that my negative experience with Handbrake on the Mac dwarfs even that on Windows. It was not with the encoding (did not get that far, nor will I), but rather with the program itself. I installed v0.9.3 and decided to try a sample conversion of part of a DVD. But, it can't...I got a message that it "can't find VLC Media Player". Apparently it needs VLC to do this. Very negative start...I don't download a tool only to go chasing other tools that it needs to do its basic functions.

But ok, I'm familiar enough with VLC on Windows, so I download it, install, and try again. And AGAIN another I need "Fairmount" software in order for this to work. So, right out of the gate, what is supposed to be a simple single tool for basic DVD conversion requires TWO other pieces of software to even do this function. Actually I should say that I don't know if it actually needs any further software in this pleasant little download merry-go-round...I deleted both Handbrake and VLC at that point and won't bother with it again.

There is something quite dirty behind Handbrake, though you can't put your finger on it. Not a single of the real-life Mac users I know uses it, and yet on the internet it comes across as the video holy grail. Both of my experiences with it now - on both Windows and Mac - have been abject disappointments, and there is something more than a bit vile about its way of stringing a user along step by step and requiring other software that is not stated at the beginning. I will not be trying Handbrake again, ever. And this article is well accurate and correct not to have included it as a recommendation, regardless of the seeming hype and suggestions.

by Anonymous on 29. September 2009 - 2:53  (33507)

It's so odd how experiences from one user to another can vary. I use Handbrake on both Windows and OS X without any, or only minimal problems. It never asked me to install additional software - although I might have had VLC already, but I don't know anything about Fairmount... Bizarre...

by Anonymous on 7. September 2009 - 14:50  (32286)

I tried format factory for converting wma to mp3 and was sadly disappointed - just about everything I tried came back as a fail. I also tried pazerra, which worked but I couldn't get to take the information on artist etc. over to the new format - and as I was trying to convert large batches of files this was slightly inconvenient. Is Super worth a try?

by Arithmomaniac on 9. September 2009 - 21:11  (32424)

I don't know if SUPER supports tag porting. MediaCoder does, I think.

by Anonymous on 26. September 2009 - 7:32  (33345)

Tried most of them and couldn't get the results I was looking for. In the end a friend pointed me in the direction of mediamonkey and the free version does the trick (even if limited to less than 100 files per conversion).

by Jojo Yee on 6. September 2009 - 0:06  (32206)

This comment is copied over from Site Suggestions and Feedback:

Being a fan of your site and having found it useful in so many ways I thought I would relay my experience with 'Best Free Audio / Video Format Conversion Program'.

My project is fairly straightforward. Archive and compress my .vob files. Most of these have been recorded from TV onto DVD discs and ripped onto my hard drive. I settled (rightly or wrongly) on MP4 (H.264 video) (AAC audio) format which seemed to offer the best size/quality compromise. I looked for a batch option so I could leave my computer encoding all night.

Your first choice (FormatFactory) was nice to use and encoded very fast but the results were unacceptable. The MP4 file froze within the first minute. I experimented with other compressed formats but the results were the same. I went on to try all your other recommendations but each one failed in one way or another. I wondered whether there are compatibilty issues with my Windows Vista Home Premium x64 Service Pack 2 OS or my AMD Phenom(tm) 9650 Quad-Core Processor.

My next action was Google which turned up some more failures until I found:

It works! HandBrake does exactly what it says on the tin. The Encode Queue is great. Result.....One Happy Bunny! The progress data shown in a separate cmd.exe window seems pretty meaningless but encoding using 'TV' quality takes a bit longer than the time it would take to view the video and the compressed output varies between about one third and two-thirds the size of the original. Other options compress smaller.

By the way, thanks for your website. It is an invaluable resource.

Martin Rogers

by Arithmomaniac on 9. September 2009 - 21:06  (32422)

For future readers, the only 64-bit recommendation on this list is Mediacoder.

by Anonymous on 31. August 2009 - 16:36  (31943)

I always start (and usually end) my search for quality freeware here. This time I went with Format Factory and love. Quick, easy, and perfect for converting my weekly videos for my website. Keep up the good work here.


by Anonymous on 20. August 2009 - 1:56  (31199)

Super is not so Super.

by Anonymous on 18. August 2009 - 19:56  (31106)

Quick Media Converter is so slow that I could spend all day waiting for it to convert one .flv file. And, it has a watermark right in the middle of the screen of the output file. Of course, $59 gets the watermark removed.

What is up with GIZMO?

by mr6n8 on 18. August 2009 - 21:02  (31113)

I do not know where you got your download, but the link here for QMC is to a freeware. I use Format Factory, but just downloaded QMC and had no watermark on the converted video and I see no option to purchase within the program.

I clicked on the Cocoon Software link in the program and was taken to their webpage which indicates it is completely free, no trial etc

Also was voted one of the 12 best free windows applications of 2008 at lifehacker as well as one of the best freeware applications of 2009 at PCMAG.

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