Why Download Sites Require Extra Caution

Why Download Sites Require Extra Caution

By Anand Khanse for The Windows Club

The convenience of popular online download sites is overshadowed by the rampant crapware that is attached to many downloads initiated from these sites.–PC Pitstop

There was a time when we went to some good download sites and clicked on the Download button to download software. And what we got was – software. But times have changed now, and things have gotten a bit messy. Now you have to be very careful before you click on any Download button or link, because you never know what you may end up with! You may go visit a download site to download, say our 340KB Ultimate Windows Tweaker, and end up with a bunch of other crapware you did not ask for!

Why have things come to this stage?

Over a period of time, something somewhere changed. Reputed download sites started getting a lot of traffic. Search Engines rank these sites well, so many visit them to download software. People trusted them. Then came a day when such sites decided to encash that trust – and betrayed their users! It was all about money!

They started offering Installers!

CNET is one such site. So are BrotherSoft, Softonic, FreewareFiles and Tucows. The open-source download site Sourceforge.com is yet another example! I am sure there are many more. So what are these Installers or Downloaders? They are nothing but setup files that try and first push third-party offers on to your computer before giving you access to the file you want.

What Do These Downloaders/Installers Look Like? –Article Continued Here

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31 thoughts on “Why Download Sites Require Extra Caution”

  1. I tried downloading Comodo IceDragon on my laptop that has Windows VIsta (my other has Windows 8.1) and the browser only downloaded it partially and when I try to download it again it says Repair, Uninstall or Portable and it won't let me do any of them. I can't find the file in my uninstall or in any down load files. What can I do? It works fine in my other laptop. Could you email me at: [email protected]? I need help!!!!!!!

  2. Hollis Rich
    if you love chrome or firefox, you can continue using them, you just need to go to options –> general tab, and set the homepage to a blank page, or "when firefox start: show a blank page" so every time you open it, it will open a blank tab. I have set it as "when firefox start show: my windows and tab from last time". so every time i open it, it will open all tabs that were open when i closed firefox. i hate opening tabs and going to my daily visited pages hahaha. one more thing, i am using IceDragon from COMODO company, its the COMODO's Firefox version, all same option, just looks nicer, i love blue color. hope my comment helps you.

  3. ADWcleaner is supposed to remove unwanted crapware – example “Mysearch”toolbar.
    Have run it 2x, and My Search is still there despite the ADW said it is removed.
    Its site is also a crapware distributor, as a pop-up saing that my ADW Cleaner is old and I do find update on their site. No downloadable update there – just a bunch of crapware to download.

  4. WOW … Was I surprised, when I downloaded from CNET, an update for one of my programs. My PC was taken hostage! I didn’t authorize any of these programs and I wasn’t asked to do so … There in CNET is not telling the truth, when it comes to what they are doing!!!

    I was “hit” with Conduit and Sweet Packs, of the likes that I honestly, could not believe. It took me almost a week, to get rid of Conduit and then, I still has Sweet Packs. Now, that didn’t take as long, since, I knew what to look for and how to get rid of it, I thought.

    I found that doing a Restore, wasn’t getting rid of either program, so I, went into the Registry. I do hate, doing that … But, I had to see just where these 2 programs had embedded themselves. As all of the geeks here know, messing with the Registry is not something anyone of us, wants to really do. It took 3 “deletes” of both the Conduit and Sweet Packs, to finally get rid of them.

    The worst of it all, is my daughter on the West Coast, her PC got the exact same programs, Conduit and Sweet Packs. They also, had downloaded an upgrade/update on their Free Anti-Virus program, by Avast. These programs must have been on “special” for CNET, that week, is all I can say.

    Bottom line, by using my PC to correct this issue, I was able to get her PC back up and running, through remote accessing.

    Please, do not say that CNET is allowing you to “by-pass” this heinous malware, because it is not. I can only surmise that, CNET is getting monies, for these companies to do this kind of “business”. Let face the real truth … At one time, CNET was at the Top of the Game for the last and greatest in Computering … Not so, any more. They, as well as others like ZNET, are on the down side of things, for example ZNET at one time had a full TV Channel, as did CNET … Today, nothing, nothing at all. The information they produced was valid and important, as were their articles in their online magazines. Today … Not so much.

    So, what happens when you were once on top of the heap and now, you are at the bottom of the heap? You sell your “soul”, to the highest bidder. I feel, that is what all of these bad companies have done … I no longer trust CNET and will NOT recommend them to anyone!!!

  5. About Crapware. If they are upfront and give you a choice to uncheck then OK. But the way they are doing it is no better than a spammer, scammer or a terrorist. Its sort of like Obamacare. You have to vote on it to see whats in it. Shame on them.
    PS What kind of idiot downloads and or plays games? Get a life. PCs are for business.

  6. Stephen Fernandes Internet Explorer is just another browser. It comes "built in" to all versions of Windows. It should be listed in the Start menu programs.

  7. I have one HD set up for downloading and saving the setup files for programs. that HD is so full of crap, that the places that search your computer have a fit themselves. Once you have the file you want..transfer it to main HD and problem solved.

  8. I use PCMatic to keep my computer clean, but not for virus protection, because it’s not that good. Like all virus protection programs that claim to be the answer to a safe computer world, their not.
    any anti-virus program that is free, is usually worthless. Remember you get what you pay for.
    I use an anti-virus program called G Data. I have found it to be the best of the bunch, It found a virus that PCMatic didn’t.
    It may not be the answer to a perfect world, but so far I’m satisfied.

  9. Spoken like a true convert. They say there is no critic worse than an ex smoker on smoking, and same goes for Windows/Linux. Who are you going to call when something goes wrong with your system? if it wasn;t through Windows, i wouldn't be in business… but one thing you can take your hat off to Microsoft… they don't admit mistakes… only service packs! Unless you know your linux back to front… you are not going to get answers as easy. That's the reason why 90% of the market will always stay with microsoft and not linux. If linux got the popularity of Windows… you would not be safe… so stop polishing this little bauble you call linux

  10. Not always… sometimes you have to download a certain proggie to accept another. But you have to be aware of what they are downloading. Once I got what I want, I uninstall the 3rd party software it came with. Bottom line is You have to have eyes in the back of your web (sic) to make sure you don't let anything through.

  11. Do you or anyone you know have a contact list of all of the sites you found that do this? If so it could be circulated and all of the companies involved could be emailed and notified that “because they are doing it” the recipient (email blaster) who formerly was “a loyal frequent visitor” will now “never again visit the site” until this practice is stopped by them!

    1. @joe d: It wouldn’t make a bit of difference to the offending sites. They are relying on the millions of oblivious users who couldn’t care less if there is another tool bar, extra malware etc. on their computer as long as they get the free game, free picture, free porn that comes with it. Those of us who are worried about these things are the only ones who will lose in this “brave new world” of advertising and social media rules all.

  12. The Interwebs needs to be deleted, formatted and started again with a governing body, a bunch of secure rules and a license handed out.

    The only way…

  13. This might seem a small point, but since so many of us rely on our computers for so much,it is a disappointing development, and a real drag. This is one “sell-out” that really hurts, because it first robs us of our trust, and then our time. It’s gotten so that when I see that one or more B.S. programs (carefully and specifically) NOT requested show up anyway, I just set my computer to “System Restore” and take 5 to have a coffee, or whatever. I do that because none of the traditional means of uninstalling programs seem to make a dent in them, anymore.

    BUt I really wanted to comment (for the first time) to thank and acknowledge MAJORGEEKS.COM! Now that filehippo has succumbed to temptation and skanked its way into the Slimeball Internet “Pimp” Community (“Pay ME $$$, and then you can screw THEM as hard as you want!!”) Majorgeeks is the last holdout. USE them! They’ve got MY gratitude and support. I’m sending them a copy of this comment, and hoping they will stay true to the higher path. Thanks for listening.

    1. @Paul Hampton:As an “on-call” work-out-of-my-home repair facility, I get calls at least twice a week to remove the “crap-ware” which is piggy-backed on “updates” from reputable websites; I’ve started charging a “flat-fee” instead of “by the hour” and my business has picked up 500%. I rely on “iobit.com” “Uninstaller3.0” and my “bag of tricks” developed over 25 years of building and repairing computers to fix the crapware that won’t go away; 1 out of 5 computers I simply do a “system restore” but occasionally, even that doesn’t work, and I end up removing the HD, connecting it up as a slave to my desktop (good ole boy machine) and accessing the files I need to save for the customer, then running my clean-up programs on the infected drive and cleaning it up to the point where it can be reinstalled into the customer’s computer, and “voila” it works everytime. Try it sometime.

  14. Worse, a lot of that junk is very hard to get rid of. I never used Brothersoft, Softonic only if absolutely necessary but the real disappointment is CNET who falsley claim the additional software does not contain spyware etc. IT DOES

  15. Hollis if these are video adds that are starting when you open a new tab then chances are you have been hit by exactly what they are talking about in this article. I had the same problem and it was unbearable. Everything we opened a tab a video commercial played. Was a added on software that was downloaded onto my computer. Took about an hour to clean it off my computer.

  16. "So what are these Installers or Downloaders? They are nothing but setup files that try and first push third-party offers on to your computer before giving you access to the file you want." That's if you can actually get to the software you want ! I've found lately that unless I download their "crapware" I can't get to my requirement at all. Obviously I don't, I try somewhere else… Often without success., for the same reason.

  17. I use adblock and noscript (Firefox). I always get what I’m looking for and get nothing else, even on CNet and the like. If the software I want tries to foist something upon me when installing it’s just a question of unticking the box.

  18. Well Even trustworthy downloads like Ccleaner and Adobe Reader have a toolbar app in the bushes waiting for you to hit the Speedy install button.. Always Custom now and watch hard.. Sometimes they still get around me. Very smart…

  19. I am so tired of all this scamming and imposing themselves onto people by all these companies I am making the switch back to Linux in order to avoid the hassle. The whole thing has become one big nightmare and pain. Windows is a loser in itself and if you don't do advanced games, it is the way to go. I'm just tired of being screwed as well as seeing so many people don the same way. It's simply a matter of money to them. At least Linux takes most of this out of computing. But it is true, one must look out for apps and programs downloaded onto Linux such as Firefox, else they will be still be getting the ads as usual.

    Michael– Deo Vindicabamur

  20. It seems like every site I go to these days…including Cnet and tucows,which USED to be safe,now insist you download a "downloader helper," or toolbar to allow you to download the software.Bottom line,I refuse to download these "third party" programs,so I end up doing without the software or buying it in a store.

  21. Eric Edmond Frenzel

    Thank You PC Pitt Stop, I don't recall if you printed the importance of always choosing the custom download as opposed to express download. If express is checked you will receive all the crapware with custom you can uncheck a crapware install box or disagree with the terms.

  22. It's not just the download sites. Chrome and Firefox have started loading adds when you start the browsers. It is all about making money from advertisers. I guess anything you don't have to pay for is fair game. It is frustrating, but has made me go back to Internet Explorer. At least we have choices.

  23. C-Net warns me to uncheck additions and do I want more Free downloads and always look at the squares for check marks on any Freeware.

    1. Nobody said anything about viruses. Crapware is just extra junk these people throw at you, or even comes preloaded on new systems. And yes, Linux, and Apple, are vulnerable there too. Even Java tries to get you to download Ask Toolbar, and will do so if you don’t actively uncheck the box.

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