How to avoid downloading unwanted software

When you download software on the Internet, there are pitfalls for novice users everywhere, and learning how to avoid unwanted software is an important skill.

fake download link

When you download the free software you need on a web page, the first pitfall you may encounter is one or more fake download links. You’ll often find large, brightly colored buttons with text like “Free Download” or “Download Now.” These are usually just ad banners designed to mimic real download links, enticing you to click on them and install different software.

Be aware that such ads are trying to deceive you – this is the first step. To identify fake download links, you can usually hover your mouse cursor over the link and see where it points.

Additional software bundled on the web page

Even legitimate, popular software vendors want to trick you into installing additional software you don’t need.

For example, when trying to download FlashPlayer from Adobe’s official download page, you’ll find that McAfee SecurityScan Plus is checked by default. Users who accept the default option or do not read it will eventually install this additional software on their computers.

To avoid this, be careful when downloading pages and don’t view any additional software you don’t want to install before downloading the installer you need.


Trash selected by default in the installer

Software installers often bundle browser toolbars and other unwanted software. Developers distribute their software for free and make some money by including this crap. Some installers even try to change the browser’s homepage and default search engine to a different homepage or search engine.

When installing software, be careful not to check any toolbars, unwanted software, or homepage and search engine changes, which can often be disabled during installation. Sometimes you may need to check a box indicating that you do not want to install the software or click the “Decline” button. The developers want you to be able to click and install junk quickly through the installation wizard, so be careful when installing new software.


Uninstall junk and restore system settings

If you accidentally installed some add-on software that you hate, you can remove it.

To remove the software you hate, usually, just find it in the list of installed programs in the control panel and uninstall it, especially bad add-on software may require removing multiple junk programs. If you’re having trouble removing something, do a Google search — you may need a specialized removal tool or instructions.

Today, things are not getting better. In the Windows software ecosystem, bundling unwanted software with installers is widely used, with big companies like Adobe and Oracle bundling junk software alongside free downloads, and Oracle even bundling the dreaded Ask Toolbar and Other junk software and Java security updates.