Download.com now wraps downloads in their own installer, bloatware

If you're looking for a sure fire way to turn away your users, all you need to do is wrap other organizations' software in bloatware before letting users install it. CNet did exactly this with it's Download.com site, now forcing users to download their installer to install software.

Extreme Tech reports that Download.com now wraps most (soon to be all) downloads in a proprietary installer, that attempts to install a few toolbars and change your search defaults. The sites page design changes over the years have become increasingly obvious attempts to trick users into downloading their update software (dubbed "TechTracker") as well as Trialpay deals and their mail lists.

The company even went as far as changing their Terms of Service, as most developers disallow their software to be repackaged for distribution. Now, the company states that "if you let them mirror your files you’re giving them free reign." The site used to be the one stop destination for downloading files, but moves like this could cause their traffic to fall dramatically.

Apparently, the company even knows they're doing something wrong, with a FAQ on the Upload.com help center stating that "CNET Download.com is making this change [because of] the same reason you have your applications on Download.com – for the users." The bundled software is opt-in, and even includes Microsoft Bing toolbar and changes browser settings to default to Bing.com for the homepage and search.

If you want to give it a whirl, you can download VLC (Open Source, by the way) with CNet's "help" here.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

HP could lose as much as $300 million on TouchPad

Next Story

Is Apple preparing an ‘absolutely different' Mac?

63 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I am sorry to see CNET take this course. I for one will send my customer base elsewhere now. I know that is only 10,000 users but who knows how many of those 10000 will spread that word. I seek user friendly sites and CNET has just moved well away from user friendly. As it is I already am constantly removing crap (toolbars, 'value added software',etc) so do not need CNET crap "offers".

Udedenkz said,
I hope they realize that they are effectively contributing to the fall of Windows PC market with such practices.

Every think there might BE a vast Apple conspiracy to bring down the PC? Every think that just maybe some Apple folks are in the virus writing business? Nah, couldn't be... I'm sure I'm just paranoid and fanboy. Guilty as charged.

This might be bad news for some developers who use download.com as their first provider.

For instance, the download link for avast! Free points to download.com. Fortunately for now it's still a direct link.

Download.com turned bad quite a number of years ago. If you are registered on CNET for commenting on their blogs, every download you do from Download.com sends you an email notification and prompt to write a review and no matter how many times to set it not to it still does. This is the limit. EPIC FAIL CNET. And quite a number of other crappy shareware sites have been doing this. May all of them die. Thankfully there's filehippo, snapfiles and Softpedia which haven't turned bad so far.

That's terrible for normal users
Softpedia and Major Geeks are the two sites I surf every couple of days to get new programs.

This is one reason why always recommend downloading software from the website of the
actual original vendor, rather than untrustworthy third party websites. It's common sense.

Example: If you want Firefox, go to mozilla.com. If you want VLC, go to videolan.org.
Steer clear of the likes of Download.com, filehippo.com, majorgeeks.com . . .

DJGM said,
This is one reason why always recommend downloading software from the website of the
actual original vendor, rather than untrustworthy third party websites. It's common sense.

Example: If you want Firefox, go to mozilla.com. If you want VLC, go to videolan.org.
Steer clear of the likes of Download.com, filehippo.com, majorgeeks.com . . .


^This!
I don't remember the last time I used a software download portal.

DJGM said,
This is one reason why always recommend downloading software from the website of the
actual original vendor, rather than untrustworthy third party websites. It's common sense.

Example: If you want Firefox, go to mozilla.com. If you want VLC, go to videolan.org.
Steer clear of the likes of Download.com, filehippo.com, majorgeeks.com . . .

Common sense really. Why visit download.com when you can just go to google.com to find the official vender of the software?

Money grubbing scumbags. This is not too harsh of a term. CNET.com will NEVER be typed in to my address bar, ever again. I am also curious as to how and IF Microsoft allows this behaviour with their toolbar, or does the affilitation agreement with CNET not give MS any power over where and how the toolbar gets distributed.

I don't use Google anymore mostly because of the trickery they use to pass out their toolbar. I always ask my customers if I can remove the toolbar and %100 of the time they tell me that they don't even know how it got there.

I was greatly disappointed that CNet went with this wrapper - I'd rather get my downloads with as little "extras" as possible - now I get a file that has cnet abridged to it first, then downloads the file I actually wanted. Very poor.

I guess Ed Bott can now put his employer in the number one spot on his 'foistware hall of shame' given that they're adding this to *all* software on download.com. Unless he wants to be a hypocrite, of course. There's always that option...

Yeah I started to use filehippo too. That's what happen when you're brought by CBS who only want to profit without knowing what the users want.

Stopped using download.com since I discovered filehippo (http:/filehippo.com), but I never knew they were going to get that low.... Not even a single option to download it using the normal browser.

Bogdan Calapod said,
Another site to add on my block list. Yay.

@TCA: I use CCleaner weekly, gets the job done pretty well.

I'm a virgin when it comes to CCleaner. Heard some people had problems with certain settings being checked? I don't know what they are to stay away from. I would greatly give up Uniblue

Man I haven't been to that place since windows 95/98 days. Good thing I don't need anything from there anymore! I don't want any of that bloated crap on my machine, It is true that more places are following this horrid trend of bundling, toolbars etc into the products. I am sure if any of us wanted that junk, we would install it directly where it originated!

This is truly a bad step for them to take. I hope they see that they've made a mistake and undo it. Also, Don't leave out ThemeXP.org they do the same thing Stopped going there once I found out about Neowin & DeviantArt for XP themes, back when I was still on Windows XP. Hell I'm not even sure if Microsoft does it with their consumer products? If I remember I think I only seen them wanting to install their own Bing Toolbar, correct me if I am wrong?

@PaulAuckNZ: I actually use Uniblue have been for a few years and it helps with cleaning up things that Windows doesn't itself. But, I know some one will say it's junk, so I am prepared for that Lol...BUT I would definitely look for better alternatives that surpass Uniblue as far as maintaining my system.

I only discovered this 2 days ago when I pulled something from CNET. I won't be doing it again.

I've no doubt that these craplets add a few nice registry and even file system entries for your disk space pleasure.

I came across that last week. And didnt download anything from there. Good thing I dont go there often. Which will be never now. There's more than 1 site you can download from . If I want something, I'll go to the site of whoever made the program. Altho, some free programs add crap to their installs too (like chrome, some registry rubbish / Uniblue rubbish)

Yeah found this out yesterday when tried to get DiskMax. Realised within few seconds of download that the size is not the same as the actual software size and the name has _cnet at the end. Not going there ever again.

The funny thing is that they thing that they are unique or the best of its kind. Their hits will hit an ever low and remain there forever.

Well I don't approve of it and it should be off by default but who does that? Most software these days comes prebundled with a bunch of crap (toolbars) and by default are set to install. Just pay attention to what you're doing

Edit: By the way, what's wrong with the updater?

Temuulen Battumur said,
damn, they are definitely desperate. filehippo is way better than download dot com.

Seconded for awesomeness!

Temuulen Battumur said,
damn, they are definitely desperate. filehippo is way better than download dot com.


Indeed or Betanews - Fileforum Download.com stinks and now it stinks even more.

I hardly use download.com myself but CNET your seriously going to lose traffic on this one. Forget going to download.com anymore. A complete waste of time now

TRC said,
Who uses Download.com anymore? I have been there since the Windows 9x days.

If you've been there for that long, are you still using it?

Open Minded said,

If you've been there for that long, are you still using it?

Oops, typo. I meant I haven't been there since...

This is really quite shameful for CNet. It's really surprising for someone as well known as CNet to do something like this. I think it's funny how they talk about their downloads being "secure" and "spyware-free" when they themselves are adding spyware toolbars. This really hurts CNet's image.

P!P said,
This is really quite shameful for CNet. It's really surprising for someone as well known as CNet to do something like this. I think it's funny how they talk about their downloads being "secure" and "spyware-free" when they themselves are adding spyware toolbars. This really hurts CNet's image.

You seem to have your definition of Spyware a little screwy. The Bing toolbar may be bloatware (as with pretty much all other toolbars), but it's hardly Spyware.

P!P said,
This really hurts CNet's image.

CNets image was already hurt when they decided to get a bunch of "tech writers" who don't know how to use technology.

Enron said,

CNets image was already hurt when they decided to get a bunch of "tech writers" who don't know how to use technology.

All Cnets Tech writer are App fan anyway.

Yes, I saw this the other day...Needless to say, I'll be using download.com even less than I was before. What a stupid thing to do...I hate toolbars (I use Opera, so it's useless anyways), and I hate having my default search altered.
Of course, it's all for more money...Guess ads don't bring in enough money..

ncc50446 said,
Yes, I saw this the other day...Needless to say, I'll be using download.com even less than I was before. What a stupid thing to do...I hate toolbars (I use Opera, so it's useless anyways), and I hate having my default search altered.
Of course, it's all for more money...Guess ads don't bring in enough money..

And I fail to think of a site with more ads too...

Einlander said,
That is just scummy.

Agreed.
Download.com and CNet used to be THE place to find great freeware downloads back in the late 90's, but it appears to have gone to crap since.
I recommend going over to BetaNews to use their FileForum which has plenty of freeware software downloads and more. Not trying to advertise, I'm just say'in.