"Free testing tips and tools"
 Tool Server
 Testing Tools:
DiffMerge is an application to visually compare and merge files.
• Diff. Graphically shows changes between 2 files with intra-line highlighting and editing.
• Merge. Graphically shows changes between 3 files.
  Allows automatic merging (when safe to do so) and full control over editing the resulting file.
• Folder Diff. Side-by-side comparison of 2 folders, showing which files are only present in
  one file or the other, as well as file pairs which are identical or different.
• Configurable. Rulesets and options provide for customized appearance and behavior.
• International. Compatible with 42 different character encodings.
• FREE. Full featured. Not a demo!

Fiddler is a Web Debugging Proxy which logs all HTTP(S) traffic between your computer and the Internet. Fiddler allows you to inspect all HTTP(S) traffic, set breakpoints, and "fiddle" with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler includes a powerful event-based scripting subsystem, and can be extended using any .NET language. Fiddler is freeware and can debug traffic from virtually any application, including Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and thousands more.
Here is an excellent article on using Fiddler from a friend of mine, Steve Orr.
If Fiddler does not work for you, HTTP Debugger Pro is another great option.

Process Explorer
Ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.
The Process Explorer display consists of two sub-windows. The top window always shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts. Information displayed in the bottom window depends on the mode.
The unique capabilities of Process Explorer make it useful for tracking down DLL-version problems or handle leaks, and provide insight into the way Windows and applications work.

Process Monitor
Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity. It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.

http://www.wireshark.org/ WireShark
Wireshark is the world's foremost network protocol analyzer, and is the de facto standard across many industries and educational institutions. Wireshark development thrives thanks to the contributions of networking experts across the globe. It is the continuation of a project that started in 1998.
• Deep inspection of hundreds of protocols, with more being added all the time
• Live capture and offline analysis
• Live data can be read from Ethernet, IEEE 802.11, ATM, Bluetooth, USB, Frame Relay, and others
• Coloring rules can be applied to the packet list for quick, intuitive analysis
• Output can be exported to XML, PostScript®, CSV, or plain text

 Development Tools:
Visual SVN Server
Replace Visual Source Safe with Subversion for your configuration management system. 
VisualSVN Server is a package that contains everything you need to install, configure and manage Subversion server for your team on Windows platform. It includes Subversion, Apache and a management console.
>> Use TortoiseSVN as the client tool embedded in Windows Explorer.
>> Use AnkhSVN as a Visual Studio plug-in.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express
Yes, it is 100% free.  Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio Express (SSMSE) is a free, easy-to-use graphical management tool for managing SQL Server 2005 Express Edition and SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services. Note: SSMSE cannot manage SQL Server Analysis Services, Integration Services, Notification Services, Reporting Services, SQL Server Agent, or SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition.

Install SQL2008 Express first via Visual Studio below, or click here for direct install.

Detailed installation notes and troubleshooting tips...click here and read before installing.  Note: be sure to install Visual Studio SP1 first, and temporarily disable yoru firewall (or punch holes for appropriate ports).

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Express
C# for free, yes free!  Doesn't have all the templates and features of standard, professional or enterprise versions, but you'd be surprised how much you can get done with this free edition.  Great for tinkering around at home.  This includes MSSQL Server 2008 Express also (just get the Management Studio Express in the link above to access the database via GUI tools).

Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008 Express
Oh my god!  This free replacement kicks @$$ over FrontPage.  Full HTML editor with complete WYSIWYG designer.  CSS support.  Java and AJAX enabled.  Complete toolbox of widgets.  I could go on and on.  Can't believe it is free.  Works great for simple sites.  Unlike FrontPage, HTML output is not bloated (esp. if you use cascading style sheets).  This is the engine behind Visual Studio's ASP.NET form designer.

 General Tools:
How many times have you walked up to a system in your office and needed to click through several diagnostic windows to remind yourself of important aspects of its configuration, such as its name, IP address, or operating system version If you manage multiple computers you probably need BGInfo. It automatically displays relevant information about a Windows computer on the desktop's background, such as the computer name, IP address, service pack version, and more. You can edit any field as well as the font and background colors, and can place it in your startup folder so that it runs every boot, or even configure it to display as the background for the logon screen.

Create professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document.
FREE for personal, commercial, gov or edu use! No watermarks!
No popup Web ads!
Now supports 64-bit Windows.

FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface.

KeePass Password Safe is a free, open source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager for Windows. You can store your passwords in a highly-encrypted database, which is locked with one master password or key file.

Microsoft Desktop Search
Windows Desktop Search helps increase the productivity of information workers by enabling them to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. Users quickly find and retrieve e-mail messages, documents, and many other file types located on their PC and corporate network. Windows Desktop Search provides a familiar, integrated, and convenient search experience for Windows users.

TextPad is a full-featured text editor offering a spelling checker, macros, and powerful formatting and file storage options. New features include: color syntax highlighting; multiple workspaces; customizable toolbars; dockable document selector; alternative tabbed document selector.
Previous versions added support for the CSE 3310 HTML Validator and higher integration with the Java Development Kit and fixed several bugs

TightVNC is a free remote control software package. With TightVNC, you can see the desktop of a remote machine and control it with your local mouse and keyboard, just like you would do it sitting in the front of that computer.  Use this for Windows Home editions that do not support hosting terminal server or remote desktop sessions (only client-side view tool supported in home editions).