Sunday, January 30, 2011

How to Safely Download a file or program without the Added Junk

When I am cleaning up computers from the slowdown of malware and unwanted programs, there is one consistent thing I find in common.

There are usually several programs, toolbars, search assistants and more that are loaded onto the computer, without the user’s knowledge.

Most users never use the stuff, and don’t need it. Almost all of it is garbage and just slows things down on the computer and many track what you are doing.

Some of the common things that load uninvited are Google, Yahoo or MSN’s toolbars, Google desktop, Search helpers, disk defraggers, registry cleaners and more.

Google products are so intrusive, they can be hard to remove, including scheduled tasks, that most people don’t realize even exist, and it is another thing that will slow the system down.

One of the main ways these junk programs get on your systems is when you try to download a program that you need. Something such as Adobe Reader or Adobe Flash. Even big name software will try to include crud you don’t need.

When you download a file, you have to be a detective on the page and make sure you do not click on anything but the actual download link. They disguise other links that say DOWNLOAD NOW, and they download one of these other programs.

In the mean time, your program will download and you will have the program you wanted, and something else.

Here is an example of this, and what is crazy, it happens on more than one page, just to get one file. Let’s say you need to get the Mega Codec pack to make your videos work correctly.

You search on Google, and here is the top choice, below. Note all the Red X’s. Those are all links you do not want, and have nothing to do with your download. You need to look carefully when clicking.

Bad Download

In this case you have to click on a mirror or another site that actually has the file that you can download.

Ok, you made it through the first mine field, now you get a second page, the one that should have the file you want. Hmmmmm. Looks a bit familiar huh?

Bad Download 2

Now look at the above page, and how many Red X’s do we have here? There is only one link to actually download the file, and even it is not really obvious. The green circle is the download button.

As you can see, many things on a website look “legit” but they are just junk begging you to download them and slow down or infect your computer.

Now you need to have Adobe Flash if you are going to do anything on the Internet, including watching videos. Let’s go to the Adobe site and Download Adobe Flash:

Downloadcheckboxes

Here we go again, and this is Adobe doing it as you are trying to download it. You need to UNCHECK any free software helper junk they are trying to push on you. Uncheck the “include in your download.”

Let’s say you got through both minefields of crud to download a file, and now you have the program saved on your computer. You double click the icon to install it. Let’s use good ol’ Ccleaner, a program I like, as an example.

downloadcheckbox

This one is a bit sneakier. They try to put it on your computer after you download it, during the installation. Most of us just Click Install>NEXT>NEXT>OK>Done. We never really look at what it is asking us. I find myself doing this at times, and it can get you in trouble.

Ccleaner is a very good and reputable program, but Google and other companies make money each time someone installs it on their system or they pay a certain amount of money to have the software include the junk on their webpage or inside the software.

Why do they do this? Because they get free data from you, your surfing habits, demographics, and then they push out ads to you on the sides of web pages. Your free information makes people like Google Rich.

The key to safe downloading is to be careful, and watch what you download and make sure you uncheck any extra programs they try to install.

Hopefully these tips and examples will help you keep you computer a little cleaner!

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