If you’ve reinstalled an operating system in recent times, you surely realize how tedious the whole process can be. We have covered some aspects of this in the past, looking to simplify your experience with a list of top programs to grab after a fresh OS installation, as well as a comprehensive backup checklist.

And while that should give you a neat jumpstart, we haven't entirely touched on how time-consuming it can be to actually download and then install every new app.

Not everyone has a speedy broadband Internet connection or a well-equipped PC, and tracking down a dozen or more pieces of software along with manually installing each one could easily burn an entire afternoon -- not counting the time it takes to get your new operating system up and running. To further compound that situation, what if you are doing it on more than one computer?

A nifty new service called Ninite tries to circumvent much of this pesky process by allowing you to select, download, and automatically install over 50 popular freeware applications from a single location. The programs span Web browsers, instant messengers, media players, image editors, office and document applications, anti-viruses, runtimes, developer tools, file sharing apps, compression software, various system utilities and more. It's not useless stuff either, we have featured many of those programs as our download of the week.

Ninite is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 -- both 32 and 64-bit versions. To use the service, simply scroll through and select any program you're interested in, then click on Get Installer at the bottom of the page and save the executable.

If you're running Vista or Windows 7, right click on the saved EXE and choose Run as administrator. At this point, the executable should take off, and automatically grind out each program installation with default settings and without requiring any additional attention.

The installer provided by Ninite bypasses license agreements, though you are still obligated to comply with them. It also automatically excludes any browser toolbars and other junk that many freeware apps are often packaged with. In fact, Ninite's software isn't even installed in the process.

The service has been open to the public since late last month, and its catalog of software is growing by the day. Ninite makes it ridiculously easy for users to suggest an application at the bottom of their home page, so if your favorite freeware program isn't listed, feel free to notify them.

Have other time-saving tips for installing an operating system or subsequent software? We would love to hear about it in the comments.

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