TIME FOR SOME WORDS ABOUT FREEBIES

Download.com is the most popular site for downloading free programs, mostly what
are called utilities. The anti-virus program “Avast,” which we used for several years, is
available from download.com, as is AVG anti-virus (which we also used for years and

is very good), Malwarebytes “Anti-Malware,” ad blockers, media players, video chat
programs, etc. Many of these are free, and all of them have at least a free-trial period.

Dowload.com is owned by CNET, which has their own web site and also does online
videos about new products. They say they “vet” the programs which are offered at
download.com, which means they check them for viruses, and we have no reason to
doubt it.

What they don’t “vet” is additional material, like toolbars (the selection menu at the top
of your browser screen), which give you clickable icons that take you to other web sites
you may or may not want to go to. Some of these programs not only add new toolbars,
which take up more of your screen, but also change your search engine. You may have
used Google as your search tool for years, for example, but you suddenly find, as Bob
recently did, that you are now using a tool called “MixDJ,” which you never heard of and
will find difficult to remove.

What is to be done, as more than one person has asked throughout history. Walk
carefully. In other words, when you download something from a rich lode of free
programs, make sure you look at all the little boxes that appear before you install
it. These sometimes have labels like “Keep Me Informed of All New Products,” and
“Change my search tool,” and “Add my name to your mailing list,” etc. The boxes
are usually already checked off and you have to actively uncheck them. This, not
surprisingly, is the way the producers of free programs can make money. That’s okay,
and the programs can be good, but pay attention to what you are agreeing to. If all else
fails, use “System Restore” to bring your computer back to where it was.

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