Ask the Readers: Where Do You Download PC Software From?

Software from sites like download.com are a playground for malicious junkware, homepage hijackers, and worse. What we want to know is where you download your PC software from.

Computer Antivirus

We recently covered how horrible CNET’s download.com has become to install software, as everything on the site is wrapped in vicious crapware. CNET’s site isn’t the only culprit though, essentially any software aggregation site has some type of bloatware associated with it. Sites like Filehippo, Softpedia, and brothersoft all have their own version of an “install manager” that contain malware that installs toolbars and hijacks your homepage and default search engine.

Even if you go straight to a developer’s site for a program, there is a chance they link directly to download.com or their installer is wrapped in junk software. Unfortunately this seems to be the industry standard these days, and it’s a money maker, so don’t expect any of these software download sites to clean up their act any time soon – if ever. With modern computing, you’re a lot more safe from malware when downloading from the device manufacturer’s app stores – Google Play, Apple App Store, Amazon App Store, Windows Store…etc.

If you haven’t checked out our articles on how bad download.com has become, check them out:

Yesterday, our coverage of download.com was discussed on Tech News Today on the TWiT network, and the panel members had some interesting discussion on the situation:

Where Do You Download Your Software From?

If you’re downloading essential quality Open Source software for your system, we recommend using Ninite.com. These guys maintain a quality site with the latest versions of the software, and it automatically opts you OUT of installing toolbars and other junk.

Ninite is Safe Software

After all of this information, what we want to know is where you download software for your computer. Take a moment to join the conversation and leave us your thoughts in the comments!



  1. Ziggy

    July 24, 2013 at 7:46 am

    snapfiles, downloadcrew, majorgeeks – not as good as ninite which, as you mention, removes the crapware for you but at least these three download sites give you a warning and to install by choosing custom install over a standard install.

  2. Austin Krause

    July 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I really like https://www.alternative.to/

    It links directly to the developer’s website and has a list of suggestions for similar apps. Hard to beat.

  3. Brian Burgess

    July 24, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Ninite all the way here, especially when setting up a new machine. Other than that I go directly to the developer site.

    @Ziggy been a while since I have done majorgeeks, as I recall it was decent and didn’t have lameware. <-- that just came to me! Or how about "doucheware" LOL anyway.Yes, Ninite is the bomb. I covered their service when they first launched on another publication, and they are some cool cats.

  4. Gerald

    July 25, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Major geeks, snap files, cnet,
    In future I will be using your recommendation-NINITE. Thanks

  5. John

    July 25, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Probably like most I have tried not to use anything other than downloading direct from the developers site but in recent times this has become more difficult as you are re-directed to Cnet, which I hate with a vengeance, Filehippo or majorgeeks of which Filehippo seemed to be the least worst for added rubbish.
    Never tried Ninite but thanks to the above comments will be trying them in the future.

  6. Mark

    July 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

    I refuse to tell you where I download software from. I might, however, be happy to tell you from where I download software. :))

  7. reholmes

    July 25, 2013 at 8:26 am

    “Download” by a large margin. Used to use “Tucows” predominately

  8. Mark

    July 25, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Seriously, I usually find new software through the many newsletters such as this one to which I subscribe, and then download the programs from the developer’s web site. I can tell you one place I definitely avoid and that is CNET which now adds such garbage as the ASK toolbar to their downloads. Another great source for freeware as well as software reviews (legitimate ones) is Neat Net Tricks (www,neatnettricks.com). They have like six reviewers each testing the software individually and they can be brutally honest in their reviews.

  9. Barry Stinson

    July 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I used to use CNET, sometimes FileHippo, but having noticed the crapware so prevalent lately, I try to go to the developer’s site. I somehow became aware on Ninite (not at all sure where I heard of it) but have been using it for several months and find it extremely helpful, and would recommend it highly.

  10. Bikas

    July 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

    but i prefer downloading frm parent web sites

    • Steve Krause

      July 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      That’s the best option really. Go direct to the source as much as possible.

  11. krazykat

    July 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Generally I try to use the developers site, but you have to be careful. Some developers also link to CNET. You just have to be careful with each click, but the downright evil “tricks” that CNET is using you really do not stand a chance. That is, you tell CNET, NO I do not want to download your crapwear, but they ignore your request and infect your computer anyway. Not much you can do about that, except to NEVER use CNET.

    Thanks for the information about Ninite and Neat Net Tricks. Will give them a try.

  12. KG

    July 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

    After reading this excellent article, I tried Ninite to download Avast & Malware Bytes = flawless! So I used them for downloading the same two things onto my kids laptops. Goodbye CNET/Download.com!

    Question for the readers: Where is a good place to get live screensavers? Download.com has been my destination in the past (i.e.; Tropical Screensaver, etc). It would be nice to have an alternative location, that is SAFE, and has a GOOD SELECTION of free stuff….

  13. Larry

    July 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I usually use Filehippo. used to use CNET but havent in a long while. when i used either one i always used the custom install to uncheck all the garbage. even then some gets throu.
    will start using Ninite.
    Thanks so much for all the info you provide.

    • Bojan Sala

      January 8, 2014 at 3:14 am

      Filehippo very very seldom adds software, for example it doesn’t have 7+ Taskbar Tweaker, Unchecky and to top the cake it doesn’t have Everything (the search app). All of these apps went viral long ago yet Filehippo’s most popular app is still WinRar. It’s simply not up to date. I myself use Softpedia which is perfectly safe but unfortunately does have all sorts of junkware in its library :(.

  14. Altobelli

    July 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    At https://www.fsf.org/ you can get free software.

  15. Monte

    July 29, 2013 at 5:58 am

    I usually look at sourceforge.net for the quality stuff.

  16. Ms Hanson

    August 4, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Used to use Filehippo, but rely now more on Ninite. Have used alternative.to for ratings or free versions. Caught on to CNET long ago, though I appreciate their reviews. Will look into sourcforge and neatnettricks next.

  17. Robert

    August 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Wait, what? You lost me at ‘Sites like Softpedia have their own version of an “install manager”’… Softpedia? Seriously?
    To the best of my knowledge, they do their best to help you AVOID crapware as much as possible:
    1) Softpedia is the LAST major download portal that never had a downloader or wrapper or whatever you wanna call it. I’ve been using it for years and unlike cnet, brothersoft or softonic it never used crapware, or least not it’s own crapware. The only crapware I’ve seen in packages downloaded from Softpedia is the crapware in the actual adware installers, put there by the developers, not Softpedia. If you can SHOW me a Softpedia wrapper with crapware or, heck, any Softpedia-branded downloader, I’m ready to take back what I said.
    2) Softpedia is the only download portal that marks as ‘ad-supported’ any packages including ads or crapware put there by the developer – see http://www.softpedia.com/get/Antivirus/Avast-Internet-Security.shtml or http://www.softpedia.com/get/Others/Home-Education/Google-Earth.shtml for example – and even specifies why a download is marked as such, so you know what to expect
    3) Softpedia is the only download portal that does it’s best to avoid crapware – apps that forcefully install it are no longer listed or updated ( see the note in red here http://www.softpedia.com/get/CD-DVD-Tools/Data-CD-DVD-Burning/Nero-Free.shtml ) and they always prefer crapware-free packages ( download CCleaner from cnet, filehippo or even the developer’s website, you’ll get the version with crapware, while the version on Softpedia is crap-free… all the apps here http://www.softpedia.com/progMoreBy/Publisher-Piriform-Ltd-21401.html or here http://www.softpedia.com/progMoreBy/Publisher-KC-Softwares-19898.html are offered by default with crapware everywhere except Softpedia )
    When I saw Softpedia mentioned in the previous article, I thought it was an accidental slip up, but I see you continue to bash a service that does not deserve ANY downloader / wrapper / crapware hate. On security forums like Wilders, Softpedia is known as the last crap-free download portal and you put it right there, aside those losers? I perfectly understand if you want to promote Ninite as much as possible, but I can’t understand why you haven’t made some basic checks before making false accusations…

  18. Zoran

    August 22, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I am using Softpedia, FileHippo, SnapFiles, sometimes FileHorse, PortableFreeware and PortableApps.com.

    I know about Ninite for a long time, but there are some programs that Ninite does not offer (like PDF-XChange Viewer). Anyway, great tool for those with less experience :-)

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