Watch Out Where You Click on Download Sites or You May Not Like What You get

Do you often use download sites to get free software? Have you noticed how the download link for the freeware you want is often buried in a forest of advertiser download links? It is all too easy to click the wrong link and end up downloading some advertiser’s product instead of the freeware you thought you were getting. You might even end up installing something undesirable if you are not careful.  I am finding that even the most reputable sites are putting ads with download links on freeware download pages. These ad download links can easily be mistaken for the actual link that you want.

My personal choice these days is use the software developer’s website when possible. Indeed at Gizmo's Freeware we almost always give download links that point to the developers site. Also, consider using ad blocking extensions like Adblock Plus and NoScript that clear away many of the extraneous download links.

This link has a discussion of the problem of deceptive download links with examples from some commonly used sites. 

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

by tweetiepooh on 20. June 2012 - 9:51  (95148)

I have used EULALYZER (http://www.brightfort.com/eulalyzer.html) - free for personal/educational use.

This will scan the EULA window and (try to) highlight conditions and gotchas for you.

by redstick (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 21:56  (95141)

Well, we all get a little lazy; how many of us read (or even scan) every end-user agreement? There can be a few jack-in-the-boxes in that fine print....

by MikeR on 19. June 2012 - 19:21  (95138)

I don't know what it is with standards of education worldwide, but we do seem to have reached the point where even the consequences of crossing the road without looking are always, but always, going to be someone else's fault. Over on the giveawayoftheday website, for example, posters repeatedly complain about being lumbered with toolbars and browser changes, yet if they'd looked where they were going -- when installing the software -- they wouldn't have been run over.

Folks like that are accident victims waiting to happen, and nothing can be done with them. They're told repeatedly to control their own computers but no. It's too much trouble. They also fall for EULAs that they can't be bothered to read but blindly agree to, when lovely freeware apps like Eulalyzer have long been available to help out.

However. . . I do have some sympathy for novice computer users who fall prey to the latest, and perhaps most pernicious, practice of unscrupulous developers: the twin-option installation, whereby the 'standard' install and the 'advanced user' is offered. Novices *know* they're not 'advanced users'; the very idea of having to contend with God-knows-what on an installation is terrifying. So, naturally, they go for the 'standard'. And wind up with all kinds of crap they never asked for.

A fairly recent refinement of this practice has been to finesse the twin-option install process by adding a check box to 'Accept the Terms & Conditions'. This might seem wholly innocent -- after all, if you don't tick the box then you're not going to get the software, are you?

Wrong. Ticking that box over-rides the install options: it's a way of signing you up to *all* the crap the developer wants you to have. NOT ticking the box, by contrast, doesn't disqualify you at all, but merely stops that over-ride.

Thanks, then, to Vic for today's timely reminder about the download dangers out there. The issues I've touched on aren't actually as common as the ones Vic identifies -- but you can be sure that by the end of 2012, they'll be widespread.

Moral: if a developer seeks to treat you with contempt, then treat that developer likewise and don't install its software, no matter how good it might seem or how solid a reputation it may have. At the end of the day, these people are desperate to get their wares out into the marketplace, and if the marketplace says no way, Jose, then that's the end of their particular story.

by Geoff57 (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 18:30  (95135)

When installing new software I have got into the habit of moving my mouse pointer right away from the installation window after I click something, which gives me time to read what I am clicking next. Do it often enough and it really does become an unconscious habit (but a good one!)

And I NEVER accept the "Typical" ore "Recommended" installation profile.

by Mark J (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 17:02  (95131)

This also applies to installing. Read the screens and don't install tool bars.

by Col. Panek (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 15:14  (95124)

My solution: run Linux, and get apps from the distro's repository. Simple installs, no malware, regular automatic updates.

by mousissue (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 15:07  (95123)

Going all the way back to my days in programming school in the mid-80s, I remember one of the instructors telling us constantly... "READ THE SCREEN!".

It's human nature to be inclined to skim read a page.
But... if you're going to click on ANYTHING, ALWAYS read the screen VERY CAREFULLY!

Advertisers have long taken advantage of our tendency to be lazy. This article shows that in action.
So be careful out there, folks! :)

by Mark J (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 17:01  (95129)

I totally agree. In fact that's a problem with some people I work with, the don't want to be bothered reading the screen. So when they ask me what should they click. I answer read the screen

by Denis Gauthier (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 14:46  (95122)

Example : When I install Sumo RK. It is very dangerous to install craps : unwanted toolbars, etc.
At each windows : check and uncheck, use custom install.

And take your time.

by Randy55 (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 12:21  (95112)

My answer to this problem is "Web of Trust" or the WOT plug-in for Firefox. This plug-in stops "bad" web sites from even loading.

by MidnightCowboy on 19. June 2012 - 12:59  (95117)

What WOT does in fact is present the user with a warning, although there is still an option to override this and go to the site. For users who wish known malicious sites (as defined by Norton) to be blocked instead, then switching to the Norton DNS service will achieve this. There are three policy options to choose from providing varying degrees of content filtering. Usage of Norton ConnectSafe is free for home and personal use.

https://dns.norton.com/dnsweb/faq.do

I use Norton DNS on both Windows and Linux.

by wim (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 10:46  (95109)

On my new Desktop,i downloaded Miro,but that is a tricky one,you have to look very good, otherwise you end up with AVG toolbar. If they ask 5$ for it, i buy it, and they dont have to get their money like this!

by eikelein on 19. June 2012 - 10:10  (95105)

Even from "the developer's site" is not safe any more. Just one example: Sourceforge.net.

What came from there (in another life?) used to be okay; not so any more. Example PDF Creator now comes with varying blind passengers like Babylon.

Only remedy here is to really read the little windows that pop up and to deselect the foistware.

I understand that this often is the only way for the authors to get at least some money for their work. Why? Because the honor system of donating has not worked.

I admit that I too have downloaded and used freeware and at the same time ignored the Donate link. So I am (we are) to blame too, at least to some extent.

Sad state of affairs but we live in the world that we deserve.

by Petr Hrasky (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 7:31  (95104)

How do I load the Google cache

by bernardz on 18. June 2012 - 14:59  (95063)

One big problem is these sites often have malware hidden in them. A useful tip is to load up the Google cache not the site itself

by Inthiscorner (not verified) on 19. June 2012 - 12:25  (95114)

Need more input, please, as your comment goes over my head. What is google cache, how do you "load it up" and why does that make a difference re malware?

Thanks.

by jason on 19. June 2012 - 12:47  (95115)

Google Cache - http://www.googleguide.com/cached_pages.html

Of course you can find out more by Google-ing it. ;)

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