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  1. #1
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    Avoiding those unwanted free applications




    TOP STORY


    Avoiding those unwanted free applications


    By Lincoln Spector

    Free apps are great, but they often come with an unexpected cost — unwanted additional apps.

    Depending on how you handle them, unwanted programs can be a minor annoyance — or a daunting problem. The trick is paying attention.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/avoiding-those-unwanted-free-applications/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by Tracey Capen; 2013-06-12 at 21:00.

  2. #2
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    I use the Cool Previews add-on with Firefox (or PaleMoon), allowing me to preview what a button does before clicking on it. Is that safe?

  3. #3
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    I had exactly the problems listed in the article, but then changed to the use of 'portable' applications. The websites at Portableapps and Portablefreeware, have all you will ever want in the freeware line. Easy to try out and to delete if not wanted. I just check the listed comments and make sure no changes will be made to my registry when it runs. If changes will be made then its my choice as to whether I am prepared to accept that. Presently about 95% of the software on this machine other than windows, is portable. If I really tried, it could be 100%.

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to dopeyal For This Useful Post:

    brino (2013-06-13)

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    When I followed the included link to the Eraser home page I didn't see any Download buttons. I assume this is because I have Adblock Plus for Firefox installed. The internet looks very different when using Adblock Plus, a much more pleasant place.

  6. #5
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    You missed one really important thing......._ALWAYS_ scan a downloaded file _before_ you install it!

    You can scan it locally with your installed virus/malware tools _and_ use an online scanner that checks it against dozens of tools:
    Upload the file to:
    http://www.virustotal.com
    http://virusscan.jotti.org/en-gb

    Both of these are web interfaces that queue your uploaded file to be scanned with _many_ scanning tools. (46 at virustotal and 22 at jotti).

    For instance, at work we are using a corporate license for WinZip v11.2. It has an upgrade button that took me to a download page for v16.5.
    I downloaded the file and scanned it locally...nothing found.
    However, the ESET scanner at both virustotal and jotti found the "OpenInstall" crapware within it:
    https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/e...b696/analysis/
    http://virusscan.jotti.org/en-gb/sca...ee000c2f484ab6
    I refused to install it because of that.

    Here's a link to a short discussion on MalwareBytes forum about "OpenInstall" that questions the amount of data they collect with this software:
    http://forums.malwarebytes.org/index...owtopic=101345

    Being vigilant with any download file is basic computer insurance that everyone should be doing.

    brino

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  8. #6
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    Linc,
    Thank you for this. This has been a real issue for many years. CNET is also a real problem. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to get certain downloads without going through them and their site (IMHO) seems to be loaded with booby-traps. Caveat Emptor.

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    No sign of unwanted green buttons using Firefox 21, even after I enable scripting, turn off Ad-Block+ and stop Ghostery blocking. So I thought maybe they had responded rather quickly to your article. However, the buttons appear with IE-7 (no addons). So Firefox appears to be filtering some stuff itself. Shan't look into it now.

  10. #8
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    I have an idea... how about folks 'purchase' software so programmers don't have to play games with you to try and earn their money. These people spend a lot of time creating software, but unfortunately everyone seems to think that software should be free. If you don't want to hassle with this nonsense of getting a bunch of unwanted software on your computer, find the authors website, download the free trial, try it, then buy it if you like it.

    If you're using software quite a bit, and the author asks for donations or has an upgrade to a pay version.. buy it for pete's sake.. support the software industry and you'll end up with quality software, otherwise you'll end up with junk.

  11. #9
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    NCH - adds items to start menu, adds links to downloads which install by a single click and can't easily be uninstalled.

    I bought Express Accounts and had a job to uninstall the express invoice software, the disk encryption software etc, etc. Shame because the accounts program is superb. Still won't buy anything else off them because of the problems caused by trying to stop them taking over the pc with junk.

  12. #10
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    We can always get around technology issues with more technology. However, don't you think that a company that is offering a download, has a download button, should offer the download of the product you are interested in, not give you advertising or some other program? In this article it tells how to get around most of these problems, however, I don't think companies should be allowed to mislead you. I'm an experienced user and always install any and every program using the advanced option, even if the program is from a major vendor. There are many inexperienced users (most of the users out there) that will forget the advanced option or that do not pay attention to the installation process. Why does the end user have to police what a company is offering, why don't they tell you up front.

  13. #11
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    I would also remind everyone to exercise the same caution when updating free programs. Clicking the update button inside the app can lead to unwanted downloads just like the original download did.

  14. #12
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Avoid places like cnet and Softsonic for downloads. Always search and go directly to the software makers site.
    This might not always be possible as some sites defer their freebies elsewhere, but you can & should at least check.

    NEVER "run" a download off the internet to install, like others have said, download to a specific folder of your choosing and have
    your AV/AM application scan it. MSE, Defender, et al, will scan before running, but it is still not good practice to just run things.
    Most AV/AM scanners will automatically scan after something has been downloaded, but it's up to you to ensure that it's being done.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
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  15. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Softonic has not downloaded unwanted software to me. Maybe I'm just more selective than most folks. I have run many freeware installers directly without prior Virus Total or local AV scans, with no unwanted programs installing on my PCs. I do exercise proper care while running any installer.

    Firefox won't show download buttons which rely on Active-X controls. IE will show these buttons. NoScript and AdBlock Plus continue to block some scripts, even when run without any security settings turned on. Maybe those are some of the differences.

    CNet downloader has never left anything permanent on my PCs. So where's the beef?

    WinZip is not freeware. If it's causing problems, why not just use 7-Zip, which is freeware and doesn't have to cause any problems?

    Paying for freeware is an oxymoron. Never fall for the claims that freeware authors are poor little beggars who would starve in the streets if we didn't donate to their projects. Most Open Source projects do just fine without begging, advertising, using OpenCandy or installing unwanted piggyback software. Many have University or Government Grant support. Most don't have paid upgrade versions. Others are actually beta test versions of future planned paid products, and do not need our donations.

    One thing I really hate is when a good free product suddenly goes paid and no upgrades for the free version are offered from then onwards. I have dumped over a dozen titles in the past year for this reason. It's even more disgusting when the free Apps which become paid-only are offered in the Windows 8 Microsoft Store or the Apple or Android stores. It's not like developers aren't already making money in these Stores.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2013-06-14 at 08:16.
    -- Bob Primak --

  16. #14
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    The only download site I use regularly is FileHippo never had any of the issues one gets at CNET and similar places at Filehippo.

    If something is not at Filehippo I try to track down originators site - I avoid CNET, Softonic etc like the plague - always have,

    I noticed the other day that some projects at SourceForge are using Open Candy - sigh

    NW

  17. #15
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by northwood2222 View Post
    The only download site I use regularly is FileHippo never had any of the issues one gets at CNET and similar places at Filehippo.

    If something is not at Filehippo I try to track down originators site - I avoid CNET, Softonic etc like the plague - always have,

    I noticed the other day that some projects at SourceForge are using Open Candy - sigh

    NW
    Fine with me, as I also prefer Filehippo for most downloads. I like the way they let you choose specific versions from what's available.

    As for OpenCandy, well what can you do? Fortunately, some open source programs are still available with a NoCandy switch if run from the Windows Run Command. Or better yet, some have a Lite, Slim or Clean installer. It really aggravates me to have to dig at the original home page, but this is the price we pay for "free" software these days.
    -- Bob Primak --

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