How To Find Free Software Downloads

How To Find Free Software Downloads

Find out where to look for free and legal downloads with VideoJug's help. From the risks to free software downloads, to using download.com, this film has all you need to know on how to find free software downloads.

Step 1: Freeware and Shareware

I'm not going tell you how to get stuff you should be paying for free here because that's what bad men do, but what I will do is show you where to find what's known as freeware and shareware. Freeware (as the name suggests) consists of full, copyrighted software that is made available for download free of charge with the author's consent. These programs will normally be small, useful packages that the programmer or programmers made for fun or because they felt there was a need for what they'd made. Shareware consists of full programs that you would normally pay for, but are offered for free for either a limited trial period or with some of the features disabled until you buy the full package, however even these limited packages can prove useful.

Step 2: The risks

The important thing to remember is that downloading and running programs from the internet can be very risky, so it's important to get your software from a reputable source. Even if you know the name of the program you want to download, simply searching for it on Google can lead you to bogus programs and sites that will do your computer more harm than good. On a PC you've got the added danger of adware, spyware and viruses that my be bundled with even legitimate software if you get them from dodgy hosts.

Step 3: Recommended download location

So how do you avoid these problems? Well, the site I'd personally recommend is cnet.com's download section, which you can find at www.download.com. Cnet's been around for years and is one of the web's best known technology review websites, so they're safe as houses. Not only is all the software they host the genuine article, but their database is searchable by category and many of the programs have reviews to give you an idea of whether it's worth downloading.

Step 4: Using download.com

The title page of cnet gives you a list of the most popular programs to download. If you want to search for a specific kind of program you can use the category lists on the left of the page, which leads you to a further selection of recommendations. It's worth pointing out that not every program on this site is freeware or shareware, so be sure to check a program's licence and limitations description once you've clicked on it in the recommendations list. If you want to only find software that is free and works on your specific system, you can use the search box at the top of the page - this box is also a handy shortcut if you already know the name of the program you are looking for. Let's say I've got a PC and I'm looking for a free anti-virus program. I'll type "Anti-Virus" into the box, make sure the category is set to "software" and set it running. Right, this list here is everything cnet could find, and we're going to filter it down software that will run on my computer and is free, so using these filters at the top, I'll pick "Windows XP" and "Free" - you don't need to worry about the "File Size" or Categories" options. I'll click filter and now our list is just the free Windows programs. Now to find the best, all I have to do is click this "Ratings" option here to see what either the cnet editors or other users like myself thought of the programs (though personally I'd stick with the editor's opinions - you know what "people" can be like). This re-orders the list with the best reviewed programs at the top. Now all you have to do is click on any programs near the top of the list that take your fancy, read more about it and chose whether you want to download it.

Step 5: Alternatives

Both Apple and Microsoft have downloadable software on their websites. Mac users should go to www.apple.com/downloads while PC users should go to www.microsoft.com/downloads. The Microsoft site mainly features updates and trial versions of paid-for programs and to be honest you'll need to already know what you're looking for