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Download.com Has Finally Stopped Bundling Crapware


SourceForge and Tucows aren’t the only download sites cleaning up their act. We can finally confirm that Download.com, also known as CNET Download, has ended the installer program that they were so often criticized for.

All Downloads Are Now Direct Downloads

We’ve been quite critical of Download.com in the past, writing about how clogged our PC became with junk software after we installed their top ten programs. To be fair, Download.com wasn’t alone–most freeware download sites pushed similar junk.

After covering how SourceForge and Tucows have cleaned up their act recently, we’ve been poking around other download sites. And after a visit to Download.com, we discovered that we could find no trace of the “Installer” that previously tried to install additional software when you downloaded a program. Previously, these links were often marked with “Installer Enabled”, and downloading them would download a Download.com Installer “Powered by CNET” that tried to install additional software.

Confused, we reached out for comment. CBS Interactive’s Susan Lundgren confirmed to us that they ended Download.com’s installer program earlier this year.

So it is indeed true. Head over to Download.com and–for the first time in a long time–you’ll only be offered direct download links to the official program installers. Download.com has been cleaned up!

Download.com Never Announced The Change, But We’re Happy to See It

We’re not sure why Download.com didn’t announce this news itself earlier this year, but there you have it. The CNET Installer is gone.

RELATED: The Freeware Download Sites That Don't Force Crapware On You

Of course, there’s also no public promise that the installer program won’t be restarted at some future date. Both SourceForge and Tucows went out of their way to acknowledge the problem and commit to avoiding installer junkware in the future. Download.com silently discontinued its own program without saying a word.

Still, we don’t want to nitpick: The end of the CNET Installer program is great news for all the average PC users out there. Download.com should be commended for doing the right thing. Both the Windows and Mac freeware download ecosystems are much cleaner and less user-hostile thanks to this decision. We can only hope more freeware download sites follow in Download.com’s footsteps.

Download.com Still Needs to Clean Up Its Advertising, But They’ve Taken a Step in the Right Direction

Unfortunately, there’s still a problem on Download.com. The website is still full of misleading advertisements with “Start Download” buttons that attempt to trick users into downloading the wrong program. Having multiple big green “Download” buttons is confusing to many normal PC users, and sadly, this problem is still rampant across the internet.

Download.com has done something great–but the war against PC crapware is not over. Download.com should now focus on doing a better job of screening its advertisers. SourceForge put in the work to improve its advertising, and we should expect other sites to live up to their standard.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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