How Safe is Download.com?

Download.com is known by computer users to be a reliable source for safe software. For the most part it is, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Even apps on Download.com come bundled with other bloatware and if you’re not careful, they can find their way on your PC.

For the purpose of this post, I created a virtual install of Windows 10 and I’m going to download and install the top 10 apps on Download.com. I will be leaving the default options checked and just blindly installing apps, similar to how an uneducated user would.

Avast Free Antivirus 2015

Right off the bat, I see three download links. Which one is the right one? If we look closely, we can see that underneath two of those download links, it specifies something else. In this case it’s DriverUpdate.

Let’s go ahead and install Avast.

So, we can see that Avast wants to install Google Chrome and set it as the default browser. I use Chrome myself, so I don’t see anything wrong with that. Avast completes installing without any further installs. Now on to the next.

CCleaner

This one actually did not come bundled with anything so there’s nothing to report here.

Free YouTube Downloader

Something like this has to come bundled with bloatware right?

Right. But that’s not all.

In this case, skipping the install for Dashlane isn’t as obvious. To skip installing Dashlane, you simply uncheck the box for agreeing to the license terms.

Driver Booster 3

I have never been a fan of utilities that claim to boost drivers. I always find that the best way to update drivers is to periodically check the device manufacturer’s web site for an update. Anyway, let’s see what Driver Booster 3 has in store.

Leaving the box checked, we get Advanced SystemCare Free as well. After the install is completed, Driver Booster and Advanced SystemCare both start up. Let’s close them and continue.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

At the time of writing, AVG Anti-Virus is the #5 app on Download.com. I skipped it because Avast was already installed. Like the other security software in this post, Malwarebytes didn’t come bundled with any bloatware. Malwarebytes simply installed by itself.

Advanced SystemCare Free

I could have sworn I installed this with Driver Booster 3. Oh well, let’s do it again.

In this case, the bundled app, IObit Malware Fighter, was not selected to install by default. Since I said I will not be changing any options, I am going to leave this as is.

VirtualDJ 8

No bundled bloatware to report here. Typical install didn’t come bundled with any apps.

Driver Easy

Why not install another driver optimizer utility? Surprisingly, this one didn’t come bundled with any other apps.

PhotoScape

I think everyone needs a photo editing app on their PC. What app better suits that purpose than PhotoScape?

And Google Drive apparently. I wouldn’t consider this cloud storage service bloatware though.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition

Like Malwarebytes, this app was chosen because another antivirus program was in the next spot. In this case, it was Panda Free Antivirus. For those of you who don’t remember that Windows has its own inbuilt partition management utility, there’s MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

Download.com earned a reputation for being a cesspool of useless software. It’s nice to see that they are doing a better job of screening apps in an effort to shed that. Even still, you should do your homework when installing apps. Make sure you read the setup pages carefully so that you know you’re not installing unwanted software.

Sometimes it’s hard to spot, especially when they disguise it as the terms of service. This is why it’s important to read the terms of service when installing software. If you see that the terms are referencing a completely different program than what you though you downloaded, you should click decline to cancel the installation.

Uh-Oh

After restarting my PC, I was greeted with this error message. It seems that something I installed caused my system to go into an infinite reboot error loop. Ultimately, I had to reinstall Windows using the Reset Your PC feature in Windows 10 This uninstalled every app I installed. It serves to show that you really need to be careful what you install and where you install it from.

Have you had experiences with bloatware being installed with legitimate software? Let me know in the comments.