Your computer is running kind of slow and you think it’s time to fix things. So you start Googling around and read that Avast Free Antivirus 2014 is what you need. All the forums are raving about it and you think the you need to be apart of the excitement.
So you head over to Download.com, fight your way through the fake-download-button jungle and eventually find the real Avast Free download button.
The link says it’s a “CNET Secure Download” and has been scanned for viruses and spyware so – logically – you trust it. The scrupulous guys at CNET wouldn’t lie to you right?
Eventually you start trucking through the installation process but midway you discover a little problem. The custom option wants to add a bevy of unwanted programs.
What the heck is Grimefighter and SecureLine? I thought I was getting Avast?
Technically, these programs may not be viruses or spyware (as CNET promised) but they are certainly unwanted junk!
Seriously, no one wants this extra crap.
You came to download.com for Avast not a vast library of trash!
Look at what happened when I tried to download another popular program called Free Mouse Auto Clicker from Download.com.
During the install, I got slammed with this offer…
And then another offer…
And then offer, after offer, after offer!
This is nuts!
It’s so easy to click the Accept button because it’s in the same place as the Next button. If you have a tendency to breeze through installation wizards, you can easily unwittingly install loads of junkware that you never wanted.
The safest ways to get free software
The bottom line is that you can’t trust download.com to give you junkware free software.
Even Sourceforge.net is on my shit list because they covertly bundle offers in their applications now. Once upon a time I had a penchant for Sourceforge because most of the applications there were open source and were usually incubated from the tenacious tentacles of malware.
Sadly, that’s no longer the case.
So what should you do if you need free software?
Go to the source
First, see if you can go directly to the manufacturer’s website. If you really need something go to the source and then carefully click through the installer, declining offers along the way.
In my experience, there are only a few sites out there that haven’t been vitiated by the urge to bundle malware with their installers.
Check out the good guys
Currently, here’s my go to list for free software; if you know of others please let me know in the comments!
Alternatively, advanced users may prefer the windows package manager known as Chocolatey. Linux users have apt-get and yum but before Chocolatey there really wasn’t a command line package for Windows.
With Chocolatey you can use PowerShell to deliver applications directly to your PC. For example, let’s say you want to install the git distributed versioning control system from the command line.
You would type:
choco install git
And bam! It would be done.
Two last things
I just want to close with two more things that might help you.
Unchecky is a free program that monitors the software installation process and automatically attempts to uncheck unrelated offers. I used it once and it missed a few offers so I uninstalled it but it might help you out in our constant war against junkware.
Ninite.com is the other thing I wanted to tell you about.
You can use it to install and update over half a million programs. You get to pick exactly what you want. It seriously couldn’t be any easier.
If you’ve never heard of Ninite.com, then check out the website and also read my article about how to use Ninite.
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