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Farewell To Gizmo’s Freeware

Back in the day, many moons ago when visiting the world wide web was a pleasant experience, Ian “Gizmo” Richards was the freeware guru. They were exciting times, when new and innovative freeware abounded, and Gizmo was at the forefront of the freeware revolution. His weekly freeware newsletter quickly gained popularity and the name “Gizmo” became synonymous with freeware reviews and discussion.

In those days, Gizmo’s TechSupportAlert website was very basic, merely acting as a repository for his newsletter archives. Then, after Gizmo was lured onto bigger and better things, the website was completely revamped, hugely expanded, and handed over to a group of energetic and dedicated volunteers. TechSupportAlert (aka Gizmo’s Freeware) quickly established itself as the go-to place for freeware reviews, recommendations, and discussion, with the volunteers continuing to practice Gizmo’s established doctrine — safety and users first.

Time passed and the web slowly but inexorably transformed from those early days of freedom and innocence into a commercial instrument where dollars dominate. Many smaller websites were forced to close down during this period and now, sad to say, Gizmo’s TechSupportAlert can be added to the list.

Gizmo's Freeware Site Banner

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts we announce the closing of Gizmo’s Freeware. After due consideration, we’ve decided to shut down this site tentatively by 15 July 2021 after which it will not be accessible anymore.

I first signed up for Gizmo’s freeware newsletter some 12- 13 years ago and have been a member ever since. That was also about the same time I first started writing articles for publication. I submitted several freeware reviews to Clif Sipe (aka Clif Notes), who was the other notable freeware guru at the time, and Clif was kind enough to publish them in his popular newsletter. I never submitted anything to Gizmo, as there was no way of doing so at the time, but we did occasionally discuss freeware via email exchanges. It’s fair to say that I have been associated with Gizmo and freeware for a very long time and this closure hits home hard.

Gizmo’s Freeware has been a fantastic resource for a long time. However, unfortunately, freeware has stagnated somewhat with very little in the way of new or innovative freeware being released for quite some time and established popular products already dominating in just about every genre. I’m sure that this, along with other factors, has contributed to the decision to close down Gizmo’s Freeware.

It’s always sad when a once-popular website is forced to close down, and especially so when it means a valuable and nigh on irreplaceable resource has been lost.

So, it’s farewell to Gizmo’s Freeware, a great loss, and an absolute shame. We will miss you.

NOTE: The TechSupportAlert (Gizmo’s Freeware) website can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine. Visit the Wayback Machine, type techsupportalert.com into the search box, and hit Enter. Then click on the most recent date.

8 thoughts on “Farewell To Gizmo’s Freeware”

  1. It’s very strange, because they have gotten many donation offers recently, I saw one person offer $1,000, another person offered £500, many others offered smaller amounts. I personally, repeatedly offered to take over the site and pay for all hosting costs myself, as long as I could shop around for better hosting. (They are paying over £500 per month right now for hosting, which is very high.)

    The Ian Richards was the heart and soul behind the site up until Dec of 2020 when he retired, and handed it off to the current team. It seems they are determined to shut down the site, and keep it down, despite offers to keep it online.

    Recently the site came back online with a single page that allowed comments. They blocked my comments, and responded to me via email, “We have conversed with you and others about options to maintain the site as it was but decided not to go that route. I hoped we had communicated that clearly so I kindly ask not to start a similar discussion again via the comments on the Farewell page.”

    I can only guess at their motivations for shutting it down. They aren’t being very transparent. I suspect that it has something to do with the number of volunteers needed to maintain it? I don’t really know. It’s too bad, because I know they all put so much effort into the content on that site, and to just have it all vanish… Indeed, very sad.

    1. Strange because technically one could buy the domain once it expired so it’s not like they can stop someone redoing it unless it’s copyrighted? Maybe they where also worried about giving the wrong person control but blocking comments seems odd.

      Didn’t use the site myself but did know the name. It’s a shame. I’ve always wondered if we’d seen a revolution for software in the same way for music, films, games etc. Software tends to still be expensive and a lot of stuff e.g. Adobe, isn’t available for a one time purchase, but instead is subscription based

  2. Started learning computing with W95 in Dec. 9, 1995 and with the help of others and sites like Gizmo and this one and others over the years and a number of years as an admin in PC Tech in Paltalk I have learned enough to be dangerous with a bit of knowledge but continually save info from Giz, Ghacks, this site etc and will dearly miss Gizmo. Thanks to all the folks that keep up sites as I hope to continue to learn from all of you much like getting a sleigh ride from Olive the other reindeer.

  3. That is unfortunate about the Gizmo website. I do know of another excellent Freeware website here: https://www.oldergeeks.com/
    It also is all about Freeware. They say “We are a software download site without ads, fake download buttons or “crapware”.”

  4. Great article. Sad to see Gizmo go. Having sites like https://www.portablefreeware.com may bring some consolation. There are forums there and many discussions around the latest freeware. I’ve used it many years to find some great freeware. The latest found is the video editor Shotcut. Good stuff.

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