Best Freeware Download Sites

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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.

Special warning: The practice of bundling adware or other unwanted additonal applications with freeware has become widespread. Please exercise vigilance about what you click on and read all screens carefully during the download and installation process of any freeware. More about this problem is here.

 

Rated Products

MajorGeeks  

A prime site for tech tools and utilities


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free
Top place for tech tools. Site tries to feature only highly rated freeware.
Number of available downloads somewhat more limited than for other major download sites.
Read full review...

Softpedia  

A huge commercial site with an excellent collection organized by platform


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
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.
Read full review...

FileHippo  

Offers a wide collection of clean software with fast download rates


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
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.
Read full review...

SnapFiles  

Offers a huge collection of mostly Windows software titles


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free
Ads not as obtrusive as some sites. Clean navigation. Every program said to be tested.
Primarily Windows.
Read full review...

FileForum  

The site to look for the very latest products


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
The latest and most up to date versions.
More limited software collection than some.
Read full review...

FreewareFiles  

Good collection of software with user ratings


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
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.
Read full review...

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.

 

Editor

This software review is in need of an editor. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details or contact us by clicking here.

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Comments

Shout-out to Freeware Files. Have trusted it for years and it hasn't let me down. Large selection, easily navigable and a good community of users and admins.

Agreed, it's a pretty good site. I have subscribed to their RSS feeds since a few years. But lately, the feeds are coming quite less even when the software updated daily on their site is more. Anyways, apart from this issue, the site is good.

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.

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.

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 .

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

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!

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

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.