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Where and How to find "Safe" Free Software?

Application General PC Version 1.00
Author OfficeHelp
Tested on versions: Any Windows



FREE SOFTWARE is one of the web promises. There re an infinitude of websites promising free software, and indeed there are many free software's around. But not all are what they seem.

Shareware, Freeware and Addware 

Shareware is probably the oldest form of free software around the internet. It's not really free, but you can install it for free and test it. If you like it and want to keep it installed, you should pay it's author a pre-defined fee. In the beginning of shareware, this payment was voluntary and, in reality, you could use the software and never pay for it. Sometimes, there would be some minor annoyance until you pay for it, like having extra buttons to press or messages attached. This is still the case of WinZip or Go2PDF. Many Shareware's nowadays have more restrictions, until you pay them. It may be a temporary limitation (full features but only for some time, like 30 days, until it locks itself) or a feature reduction (not everything works, or will only work for a reduced number of times). Shareware developers found that, unless they did it, their revenue would be greatly reduced.

Freeware is really free software. There are many around the internet. Linux and other Open Source software's are the most well known. Unlike what many people think, they do have registered copyright, it's only that their license terms are the opposite of the usual commercial software: you cannot pay or charge for it. But most so called free software for end users are not really free, at least in unrestricted form.

Addware is a sign of times: The software is free for its users because advertisers pay for it, much like open wave television. Most of the time, you can opt for a paid version that will disable the adds. Some of them are benign in that you know what you're getting and no private information is sent without your consent, like the Opera Browser. But some others, like Kazaa, install it without really disclosing to its users the extent to which they will send information about the PC user. Be very careful when installing free software, there is an increasing trend to install Spyware bundled with so called free software download from the internet.

Are there reliable sources?

There are some well known shareware directories, belonging to respected organizations, where you can download software with some degree of confidence. Many even include some feedback mechanism where previous users can rate and comment  the download. That should give you, as well as the organization behind the directory, some confidence. The most well known are:

  • Shareware.com - belongs to CNET, one of the webs best known source of IT knowledge. Lists software in categories and includes many information about it, including price and download conditions. Direct links to download pages. 
  • Tucows.com - another huge shareware directory, very similar to shareware.com

Human Review - The TUDOGS Newsletter?

Both directories above work by submission, meaning that the author of the software fill in a form requesting the listing of their products. Even if they may be reviewed, software there is shown from the publisher point of view, not the user's one. One very interesting alternative is the Tudogs.com website. It's free but you will have to registrate an email address (just that, not more personal info) to get into it. You will get a weekly newsletter

Tudogs is also a directory, with software listed in categories. It's design is fairly simple and the newsletter is irregular, not always released on the due date. The reason is that it's maintained by a family, not a regular company. The main difference is how content gets into it: tudogs.com authors browse the internet for free software and publish what they find of interest to their audience. This means that what's get listed is not what software authors what, but what end-users find interesting, and the description of the products is made by the same criteria. 

  • Tudogs.com - personally maintained freeware directory from a end-user perspective

Tudogs.com is a very interesting alternative and we do recommend registration for those interested in free software.

Can I know more about this subject ?

Check our FREE PC Tips. They will be regularly published and will include some on free software very soon. Better still, subscribe our Email Newsletter. You will be informed when contents updates are made and automatically granted participation on any future promotion.


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