Beware CNET Download.com – Revisited


DCT first reported on the dangers of downloading from the popular Download.com way back in 2011 (Beware downloading from CNET Download.com), and we’ve continued issuing plenty of warnings since.

Now, some 4 years after DCT first brought this matter to notice, it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Among those coming ‘late to the party’ is the well known and well regarded security software vendor Emsisoft, with two recent blog publications:

Here’s the thing; these warnings do actually bear repeating because, it appears, too many users are still habitually downloading their software from untrustworthy sources such as Download.com.

The main problem with Download.com is – it is part of large revenue orientated corporate structure where profits tend to outweigh considerations of impartiality and user safety. I could easily list dozens of Download.com editorial reviews which paint notoriously bad software in a favorable light, and even more download listings for disreputable software – and this is on top of Download.com’s own adware wrapper.

TooManyToolbars

We’ve published plenty of advice on how to avoid PUPS which come bundled with software downloads, including; using Unchecky, using Ninite, and using ‘custom’ install options.

As far as download options go; it doesn’t really matter what source we utilize these days, be it direct from the developer or from any download site, the crapware is inherently bundled with the software so is pretty much unavoidable via any of these routes. In fact, I’m coming round to the way of thinking that, while direct from the developer may overcome a download site’s adware wrapper, it may also make it more difficult to identify whatever crapware might be bundled.


Download sites can’t really afford to banish each and every software just because it comes bundled with crapware, or they’ll end up with next to nothing to list. The best they can do is provide due warnings for any such occasions, which is one of the main reasons DCT continues to recommend MajorGeeks while condemning Download.com.

For example; here’s the respective download summaries for the popular free Any Video Converter, which comes bundled with ‘Spigot’ browser extensions and offers to change the home page and search engine to Yahoo:

Download.com download summary:

download.com listing

MajorGeeks download summary:

Click image for full size

Click image for full size

The difference is patently obvious, with MajorGeeks including a clear warning to potential downloaders that this software comes bundled with crapware, even going so far as to label the software “Bundleware” as well as providing a link to a generic guide on how to avoid unwanted crapware during installation. On the other hand, Download.com… nothing!


I am at a loss to understand why so many people continue to download their software from Download.com, especially in the face of so much adverse publicity.

 

Posted in:
About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

There are 16 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *