For $20 a year you can have access to more than 140 free downloads from a program library maintained by PC Magazine at (scroll to the bottom of the page to subscribe to the Utility Library). Almost all of these programs are small utilities. They are designed to do things like monitor your PC’s processor and memory efficiency, show how many programs are running in the background and what they’re eating up, speed up file searches, clean up the registry file, create calendars and appointment books, etc. Joy likes NoteWhen, which puts the equivalent of yellow sticky notes anywhere on your screen.

You can get some of these programs for free from Web sites like and, but the advantage of paying for the PC Mag list is that the programs have supposedly been vetted. That means they’ve been tried out by the magazine’s staff, they work and are bug- and spyware-free. Bob has tried several over time and found that some of them work well and some don’t, and some of them are kind of pointless. Still, $20 isn’t much to pay.

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