Still not sure if the download site you're looking at is legit? You can get proactive! Check up on that Web site before you click.
There are services out there that will analyze a URL and tell you if it's blacklisted or contains malicious content. These services work in one of two ways. Some of them look at past data about the website -- if it's on any blacklists, for example -- to determine whether it's safe. Others actually scan the website on the spot to see if it contains malware. IT pro Lenny Zeltser has a list of tools that you can use to look up any website to find out if it's legit. Just go to any of the sites on his list, type in the download site's address, and see what results you get.
You can also see what other people are saying about the download site that you're considering. You'll find reviews and discussion about more reputable download sites like BitTorrent and Usenet, but chances are totallyawesomedownloads.biz won't get a mention. The trick here is to stick to reliable sources like PC Magazine, Mac World, CNET, ZDNET, and Tech Crunch. If you can't find mentions of the download site you want to use on any of these tech resources, you might want to do a little more Googling before you visit the site or download anything from it.
While download sites might be more likely to contain malicious software, pretty much any site on the Web has the potential to infect your computer. You should take extra care when you're browsing download sites, but really any time you're visiting an unfamiliar website for the first time, caution is key.