Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Is downloading free software safe?

        Tech | Other Software

Author's Note

I've downloaded a handful of free programs, and although I've never had serious issue with them, I can't recommend it whole-heartedly unless you're working with a known entity. Researching found too many disaster stories of people who unwittingly downloaded malware or viruses, and the truth of the matter is that even with internet searches through McAfee or the like, you simply can't guarantee the safety of your programs. The most important lesson? If you're going to do it, do a thorough back-up first.

Related Articles

Sources

  • Broadband Buddy. "Is free software safe? Exploring the freeware alternative." 2012. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://www.broadbandbuddy.com.au/broadband-learning-centre/is-free-software-safe
  • Chen, Si. "Freeware vs. Shareware vs. Open Source." Open Source Strategies Blog. Sept. 13, 2005. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://opensourcestrategies.blogspot.com/2005/09/freeware-vs-shareware-vs-open-source.html
  • Couch, Aaron. "A Simple Checklist to Safely Installing Free Software Without All the Junk." MakeUseOf.com. July 5, 2012. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/install-free-software-junk/
  • CyberCoyote. "How to Download Software (Safely.)" Happy Trails Computer Club. Jan. 15, 2009. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://cybercoyote.org/internet/download.shtml
  • Larkin, Erik. "Is free antivirus software safe?" PC Advisor. Aug. 29, 2009. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/internet/3200427/is-free-antivirus-software-safe/
  • McAfee Inc. "Site Advisor." 2012. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://www.siteadvisor.com/
  • Richards, Gizmo. "The Risks You Face Installing Unknown Programs." Tech Support Alert Newsletter. Sept. 21, 2005. (Sept. 7, 2012) http://www.techsupportalert.com/issues/al_currenth.htm#Section_0