Downloading a software program is a simple process, right? You visit the developers website or a third party download portal, click on the download link, wait until the download is finished and install the program on your system afterwards.
While that works fine, especially for paid programs, you can benefit from searching the download pages or websites first before starting the actual download.
A couple of examples: If you go to the popular download.com portal, you often download the company’s own installer instead of the full program installer. Why? Download.com says it’s to improve security and such, while many believe it’s just to throw adware at you while you’re installing software so they can make a couple bucks off of it in revenue.
If you plan to install Java by Oracle or Adobe Flash Player, you may get additional software included with your download. Adobe integrates McAfee Security Scan Plus if you don’t uncheck the box there, while Oracle the Ask toolbar.
And if you go to KC Software, you’ll find a total of four different installers for some of their products.
If you search those websites, you will find additional installers that you can use that are clean and come without additional, often unwanted, programs.
If you search, you can find full offline installers for a particular product, or portable versions that don’t even need to be installed.
- Rule 1: Net or Stub installers ship more often with third-party offers, while offline installers don’t ship as often. While that’s not always the case, you’ll want to choose the offline installer whenever it’s available, as it reduces the risk of getting an adware-laden installer and also gives you the full setup file that you can run as often as you like. want on as many machines without the need to re-download.
- rule 2Note: If a portable version is offered, it is usually best to choose it, as portable programs are not installed and therefore will not run third-party installers when you run the program.
- rule 3: Some download portals wrap programs in third party installers. The best way to prevent this from happening is to not use those portals, but to search for the programs you are interested in on other portals that do not use this practice.
Security software like the new Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2 detects potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) more than it did a couple of years ago. It can happen that the installation is blocked when third-party offers are noticed in the installer.
One of the interesting aspects of this phenomenon in Windows is that it is not exclusive to shady developers looking to monetize by pushing third-party programs onto users’ systems, but large companies using the same methods for the same goal.
These larger companies, on the other hand, often make versions of their apps available without third-party offerings.