Courtesy of pfala | FlickrHas the bad economy got you down a few presents? Last year, we counted down the days to Christmas by counting down our favorite pieces of free software. It’s like a 12-day advent calendar — all in one day!

VLC

VLC is the most widely-compatible media player around. The latest version has some iTunes-like flare.

Drive back-up software

Kelly explains a free back-up solution for each platform, including rsync which is already hidden on your Mac.

Miro

Miro will automatically download your favorite TV and web shows when they come out. It’s like turning your computer into a DVR! And it’s easy.

Quicksilver (Mac)

Quicksilver is still one of the greatest productivity applications in the world. It’s also impossible to explain in less than one sentence.

The Power Hour

Another multi-platform rundown that solves the problem of timing a classic drinking game.

Skype

Skype is a popular VOIP client (it’s like a phone on your computer). But it has some free extensions that would officially put Alexander Graham Bell out of business.

Firefox Add-ons

Firefox, a web browser, is free. So are these 7 must-have extensions.

OpenDNS

OpenDNS will change the way you connect to the internet. Read how.

Tor

Tor will let you browse the internet completely anonoymously. Cover your tracks while you pirate music on campus.

Sizzling Keys (Mac)

A mind-blowingly detailed global shortcut program for iTunes. You’ll be happy you have it.

Clean your computer (PC)

End your virus and spyware issues with free software.

Facebook syncing

Free ways to get contact info and pictures out of the social network and on to your hard drive.