Download.com turns evil (adware scam)

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Download.com turns evil (adware scam)

Published by on August 25th 2011.

It is a sad fate to watch the free internet being destroyed by commertial interests and greed. CNet's Download.com used to be one of the better software archives, but their latest move sent them to the bottom of that list. Instead of the actual software, they now feed adware to their visitors...

How does it work?

Software archives usually have numerous web pages dedicated to various software products. The pages contain screenshots, descriptions, reviews, user rating and most importantly links to the actual software. Download.com has replaced these links with links to their own adware installer.

The unsuspecting user downloads this CNet's package thinking they are downloading a software from a trustworthy software provider and are greeted by adware offers. The actual download starts after this torture. Not cool at all.

This installer needs administrator permissioin and hence makes it impossible to download any portable package from download.com. Download.com handily removed all links to the software author to make it very hard for the visitor to get to the software home page.

Is there a workaround?

Yes, if you have a CNet account, you have the option to download the installer directly. Also, if the software author agrees to pay download.com 99 USD per month, the direct links will be available to unregistered users.

Why is this evil?

  • Download.com deceives its visitors.
  • Download.com damages the good names of thousands of software authors.
  • Download.com did this without notifying the authors and giving them an option to pull their software out of download.com.
  • Download.com lies about their motivation (presenting this as an advantage while requiring money from software authors if they want to turn it off).

A warning and an apology

For your own sake, stay away from download.com and their adware. Even if you skip the adware offer, there will be files left on your computer. Warn your friends and let download.com know this is not right.

If you have recently downloaded any of the RW software from download.com and had to suffer through the CNet installer, please accept my apology.

I am hesitant to recommend any other software archive. While many of them have not adopted any of these bad practices yet, there is no guarantee they won't do that in the future. The best way is to always download from the author's web.

Further reading

http://www.ghacks.net/2011/08/17/the-cnet-download-com-installer/
http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=27720.0
http://oshyan.blogspot.com/2011/08/cnet-screws-pooch-wraps-all-downloads.html

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Recent comments

user icon sixλxis forum moderator on August 28th 2011

I always went to download.com to get precious anit-spyware. Now i have to face adware? That's just gay.

user icon Vlasta site administrator on August 28th 2011

Yes, but fortunately, after some pressure from various software developers, one of the CNet's editors was willing to disable the adware installer for authors that asked for it. RealWorld stuff can now be downloaded without the additional hassle. That does not apply to majority of other apps available there. Maybe Download.com will come to its senses and drops this nonsense altogether.

user icon Anonymous on September 9th 2017

:-o :-o :-o iTS NOW A VIRUS?

user icon StickyChannel92 contributing user on May 14th 2019
user icon StickyChannel92 contributing user on May 15th 2019
user icon Anonymous
What about ICL files?
I wish there were...
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