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Are Free Downloads "Free"?
Old 06-04-2014, 10:48 AM   #1
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Are Free Downloads "Free"?

For anyone who downloads "free" programs, this article may help in understanding why those websites that you used to trust, are, maybe, not so trustworthy any longer.

The word "Free" in America, used to have a different connotation.

Safe software download sites: Beware of deceptive download links
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Old 06-04-2014, 10:53 AM   #2
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I guess the last thing I downloaded for free from CNET was Start Menu 8, which I downloaded last October to help me with Windows 8.

I never have any problems with CNET downloads so I really don't understand all the complaining. When it presents my options I just tell it no, that I don't want all that advertising junk or extra toolbars, and then it doesn't include them. No problems. I kind of expect free download sites to at least ASK... they have to earn a living somehow.
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Old 06-04-2014, 10:55 AM   #3
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My associate used to download free software until one time he downloaded a free internet radio program. Could not use his laptop after that. Even the laptop repair shop could not fix it. Had to reformat and reinstall everything. Now he only uses paid for software. Much cheaper than free.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:04 AM   #4
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As far back as I can remember, there has always been confusion about this. Free download shouldn't be confused with Freeware download. When I want to find something that is truly free for individual use, I spend quite a bit of time reading search results so that I can avoid the numerous problem downloads. Sometimes it may help to find the author's site, and avoid the CNET crap.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by target2019 View Post
As far back as I can remember, there has always been confusion about this. Free download shouldn't be confused with Freeware download. When I want to find something that is truly free for individual use, I spend quite a bit of time reading search results so that I can avoid the numerous problem downloads. Sometimes it may help to find the author's site, and avoid the CNET crap.
+1

Free, versus freeware is a big part of this... Rarely do the download sites 'freely' offer this info. In fact, what used to be freeware, is now simply "free", and you can't tell the difference until after the program is installed.

On the CNet installer...
Depending on which page comes up... whether the review page, or the download page, there may be as many as 8 clickable links that say "download".

The latest free download that is becoming very common, is Free Trial... but on the download website page, that is not commonly noted. Free trial, for 30 days.

So here's what brought the subject up... I just bought a refurbished windows 7 desktop for $99, and decided to populate it with my favorite "free" programs. Other than Irfanview, most of the programs now are "trial"...

A few years ago, instead of deleting the install programs, I kept a copy on a thumb drive. Fortunately, every one of these "free files" still installs, although sometimes a reminder comes up to update them... That invariably installs the trialware part of theprogram.

If I do download a new file, I try to run Malwarebytes... when this goes into the heuristics mode, the PUP files show up, so I can reasonable narrow down the suspects... I think I picked up the dreaded "conduit" malware from Softonic, though I'm not sure.

Except for one time, back in 1987, when I spent $15 for a program, there has never been a "pay for" program on any of my computers, or tablets... though I'm considering the $4.99 Plex app... My kids would never believe I'd pay for software. They call me Silas.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:42 AM   #6
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On the CNet installer...
Depending on which page comes up... whether the review page, or the download page, there may be as many as 8 clickable links that say "download".
Why would you click on any of them at all, until you have studied them and figured out which one is the one you want? Clicking on all these ad links mindlessly is equivalent to clicking on links in spam, as far as I am concerned.

I never click on ANY of them except the one that I originally wanted, once I have studied them and have determined which one that is. And then, when installing it I tell it "no" as far as toolbars and extra programs are concerned. This isn't rocket science! It's just using common sense to avoid advertising and unwanted programs.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:22 PM   #7
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Why would you click on any of them at all, until you have studied them and figured out which one is the one you want? Clicking on all these ad links mindlessly is equivalent to clicking on links in spam, as far as I am concerned.

I never click on ANY of them except the one that I originally wanted, once I have studied them and have determined which one that is. And then, when installing it I tell it "no" as far as toolbars and extra programs are concerned. This isn't rocket science! It's just using common sense to avoid advertising and unwanted programs.
yes, partially... Some of the download software has, included in the initial agreement, a note that they can "offer" other software. Reading all of the agreements could be a full time career. Also, not all programs from the original source have opt out clicks... as sometimes a McAfee link or an "Ask" toolbar will show up, without being "asked".

When you read the full OP link, it explains the part about the "small print" option in Cnet, for direct download.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:28 PM   #8
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yes, partially... Some of the download software has, included in the initial agreement, a note that they can "offer" other software. Reading all of the agreements could be a full time career. Also, not all programs from the original source have opt out clicks... as sometimes a McAfee link or an "Ask" toolbar will show up, without being "asked".

When you read the full OP link, it explains the part about the "small print" option in Cnet, for direct download.
Maybe I am lucky? I have downloaded a lot of freeware from CNET for probably 15 years, and I have NEVER had a toolbar added that I didn't agree to, except for once when I was careless (and then I just removed it). Displaying free toolbars has often been the default IME, but it is not rocket science to read the whole thing and then when you find it, uncheck it. My guess is that you just need to be more careful before clicking to make sure you are clicking on the right download button (and uncheck the part where you agree to a toolbar or whatever if/when presented). As your linked anti-CNET article suggests, "Don’t press the green Download Now button blindly" and "Don’t click Next Next Next blindly".
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:52 PM   #9
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A few years ago, instead of deleting the install programs, I kept a copy on a thumb drive. Fortunately, every one of these "free files" still installs, although sometimes a reminder comes up to update them... That invariably installs the trialware part of theprogram.
I do similar. I have a partition with all of the downloads I've made for a looooooong time. It is mostly the true freeware versions of utilities I've used. But I also keep my paid-for downloads there.

When I finally transition my desktop to Win 7, it will be interesting to see if I ever need these again, and if they'll run properly.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:57 PM   #10
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There is on site that carries only open source downloads with no adds or toolbars with the downloads, that is sourceforge.net. It is dedicated to getting open source software out to the public, and has a lot of versions for windows of open source programs. No trial ware here.
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