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Best Freeware Download Sites

In a Hurry?
Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
 
Introduction

Once you use Gizmo's to find the best freeware for your purposes, you need to download it from somewhere. Generally, I recommend that you use the software developer's site but that is not always possible. In that case, you have to go to one of the many repositories of freeware to be found on the web.

Here I list six of the largest and best. The ranking is subjective so keep in mind that your personal experience may be different. There are a lot of download sites and you may know of one worth a mention. Let us hear your ideas in the comments.

 
Discussion

FileHippo  I have had to downgrade this former top recommendation since they seem to be deploying a proprietary downloader for some programs.  At this time many popular programs remain a direct download but be aware that some programs are now bundled with adware so be careful. I still regard it as a good source since they offer a wide collection of clean software with fast download rates. A unique and useful feature is that they offer a full version history of most products.

MajorGeeks This site carries only tech tools and utilities. Guidance is limited to brief reviews and user ratings.  However, if you are looking for tech tools this is THE place to go. One of our favorites.

SnapFiles  Offers a huge collection, great organization and a refreshingly clean presentation. Products are briefly reviewed and carry site ratings, user rating and user comments.

Softpedia  A huge commercial site with an excellent collection organized by platform. It features site and user star ratings for products and user comments. The search engine doesn't display any  ratings and this limits its use when selecting. The real selling point for this site is its "100% clean" guarantee.  For many that is a winning feature but remember it easy to claim a 100% guarantee but much harder to achieve it!

FileForum-Betanews  Not the largest download collection, but if you're looking for the very latest products you'll find them here long before other download sites.

FreewareFiles.com  Good collection of software with user ratings and number of downloads listed. Quite a few ads scattered throughout.

 
More specialized sites

In addition to the generalized sites with freeware of many sorts, there are numerous places with freeware in specific categories. Here are some of my favorites.

NirSoft  Developer Nir Sofer has created a large assortment of small useful utilities for helping with many of the tasks of managing Windows systems. A treasure-trove of useful free apps can be found on his site.

Free Microsoft Downloads The Microsoft site is full of free stuff but finding it isn't always easy. Fortunately, there is a an article here at Gizmo's that tells what there is and where to find it.

Last Freeware Version  If one of your favorite programs has gone commercial, you may be able to find the last free version at this site. Some of the things there are so old that they won't work on more recent versions of Windows so be careful about what you try.

OldApps.com A place to find free older versions of many applications. A Website of the Week selection

The Portable Freeware Collection Do you like programs and utilities that don't have to be installed and can be run from anywhere? Then head over to this site for a big selection of portable freeware.  

 
Special note about Cnet/Download.com

These two sites are just different faces of the same site, which is the the biggest collection of software on the web. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend it unless there is no other option. The site is laden with misleading ad download links and often requires you to install their proprietary downloader. This downloader is not only unnecessary but also intrudes into your privacy. See our information page at this link.

 
Quick Selection Guide

MajorGeeks
4.5
 
Is a web service or web application
Top place for tech tools
Limited to tech tools and utilities
N/A
Windows, Mac
FileHippo
4
 
Is a web service or web application
Full version history of many products. Wide selection of downloads. Clean site without misleading ads
Sometimes does not have latest version of a program. Seems to be instituting proprietary downloader for some files.
http://www.filehippo.com/
Windows, Mac, Unix
SnapFiles
4
 
Is a web service or web application
Ads not as obtrusive as some sites. Clean navigation. Every program said to be tested.
Primarily Windows
N/A
Windows
Softpedia
4
 
Is a web service or web application
Very wide selection. Claims products are free of malware or adware
Site has ad download links that are easy to confuse with the actual freeware link.
N/A
http://www.softpedia.com/
Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile
FileForum-Betanews
4
 
Is a web service or web application
The latest and most up to date versions
More limited software collection than some
Windows, Mac
FreewareFiles
4
 
Is a web service or web application
User ratings of downloads.
Ads with download links that could be mistaken for the desired product link. Somewhat cluttered. Doesn't always have latest updates of software.
N/A
Windows

 
Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Vic Laurie. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or suggestions they might have by clicking here.

 
Tags

freeware, best download sites, find freeware

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Comments

by EldonW on 29. June 2014 - 21:47  (117017)

MajorGeeks is not 'limited to tech tools and utilities'. There are 20 different categories including apps for Mac and Android. Be aware though, freeware and shareware are lumped together. For freeware only, click on Top Freeware Picks in the left pane.
Another website for continuously updated portable programs (and games) is PortableApps.com. Only freeware and open source programs are listed.
That said, Gizmo's Freeware provides a usefull comparison between programs and a rating system. It's still the website to beat.

by Epsilon on 7. April 2014 - 2:10  (115541)

In the "More specialized sites " list I would recommend http://www.videohelp.com/

It really is the site to go to for files and information relating to video.

by Unbravewintermute on 25. November 2013 - 18:33  (112534)

I was wondering if filehorse.com and downloadcrew.com are worth adding to the list. Filehorse is very similar to filehippo and dowloadcrew is similar to download.com/cnet without the proprietary downloader .

by v.laurie on 25. November 2013 - 18:54  (112536)

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll take a look.

by keithr386 on 25. April 2013 - 20:03  (107339)

Wow, I remember when TUCOWS and download.com were the big two. I think that is also when Yahoo was the best search engine, followed by AltaVista and WebCrawler. LOL!

by triumphantjohnson on 20. March 2013 - 18:04  (106413)

i love this website, and i think am rich now.

by Peccadilloes on 26. February 2013 - 22:38  (105784)

problem is cnet has editor reviews which suggest they are more objective than the user reviews which may be less so. the download page has some hassles. to select win7 and freeware is 2 commands; should be 1; then they rank software but hard to find a a list in rank order so you have to search the whole site for no 1 2 3 etc if you stumbled on say no 4 or 44!; their ranks may be no 1 but then they are not editor's choice! a huge inconsistency; ranked sites are not up to date then? or the editor's rankings are not up to date? huge inconsistency cnet never clarified though i expressed this clumsily many times. please examine and add to your comments there if you can make them clearer than mine.