20 websites you never realised you needed

8. Expand a short URL
Sites like TinyURL do a great job of translating lengthy web addresses into something manageable. But in the process they also hide the real address that you'll be visiting, which can be a concern if you get a short URL from a source that you don't really trust. There's now a simple solution, though. Just enter the short address at LongURL and it'll tell you exactly where the link goes.

9. Get your own virtual assistant
Got some important appointments or anniversaries coming up? Sendible makes it easy to schedule reminder emails, SMS texts or social networking messages, and have them posted at the time you choose. But I Want Sandy is even better. You can ask for reminders by email, using natural language ("remind me to pick up the plane tickets in three days"), and the service will also manage your contacts and bookmarks, take notes and more.

10. Send confidential messages
Email isn't always a good choice for personal, private messages, especially if someone else has access to the recipient's PC. There's just no way to tell who else might read it. Create a Privnote message, though, and it's deleted immediately after being read - much more secure. As a bonus, if you send a Privnote message and then regret doing so, you can click the link to it yourself. The message will be destroyed, preventing the receiver from reading it.

11. Defeat picture piracy
It doesn't matter how many threats or copyright messages you post, if you produce great artwork or photography and put it online, then someone will steal it for their own purposes. They feel safe, too, as there is virtually no chance you'd ever find out, but that could be about to change. Upload one of your images to TinEye and it will search its database, then report on any sites that are using that picture (even if they've cropped or resized it, tweaked the colours or added text).

This isn't quite as good as it sounds. TinEye's database contains only a billion images, small by web standards, so it'll still miss most pirates. They're adding more pictures all the time, though, so if you're looking to protect your online images then TinEye must be worth a look.

12. Record your expenses
Paperwork sucks. But it's sometimes essential, especially with travel expenses - if you don't make careful notes and hand them in then you won't get reimbursed. Expens'd helps by providing a simple online interface that lets you record your expenses from wherever you might be, then email the information to whoever needs to know. It's free for single user accounts, but even if you've 50 people who need the service then it's still only $49 a month.

13. Manage your online media
The web is packed with sites that want to store your images, videos, and pictures, so why do you need Oosah?

One reason might be the way it connects to other sites. You can move images between your Flickr account and Facebook just by dragging and dropping, for instance, and Oosah also works with YouTube and Picasa.

Oosah offers more than just storage. You can play your music from the site, for example, so your MP3's are accessible from anywhere. And you can also create slideshows, galleries and playlists, then embed them in your web pages.

But best of all is the capacity, a whole one terabyte (one thousand gigabytes) for no charge at all. If nothing else, use it to back up your digital photos, home movies and music collection - there's no other online backup service offering such a great deal.

14. Protect your email account details
You're travelling, and need to send a quick email - but is it safe? If you're in an internet cafe, or other unsecure network, then there's no way to be sure that someone isn't logging usernames, passwords and whatever other confidential details you might enter. And that's why you need note2email. Enter the recipient's email address, title and message text, follow the other instructions, click Send It and the mail will be despatched. Your mail log-in details aren't at risk as you never enter them.

Mike Williams
Lead security reviewer

Mike is a lead security reviewer at Future, where he stress-tests VPNs, antivirus and more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe, and which are best avoided. Mike began his career as a lead software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by big-name companies from Rolls Royce to British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. The early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware, and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows and network security work under the hood.