Neowin Guide: Avoiding Adware in Installers

This week we have selected a guide from our Selection of Essential Guides posted by Xinok.

This guide provides several real examples of installers which contain adware. The intent is to show you the tricks that they use to attempt to trick you into installing the adware in hopes that you can learn to avoid it.

Before you brush off this guide as common sense, it may be worth a look. The adware developers are getting very sneaky and I've almost been caught a few times myself. Recently, Foxit Reader modified their installer so that the adware was no longer optional but mandatory. This is a continuing trend and adware is only going to get worse, so it's important to learn how to avoid installing it... unless you like toolbars which track your browsing history.

Note: All of the installers have [#] in their titlebar because they were running in Sandboxie.

Accept or Decline? Agree or Disagree?
This is a common trick that they'll use. To avoid installing the adware, you must click Decline / Disagree rather than Accept / Agree.

This may catch some users because it looks like a license agreement.

Read the rest of the review in our forums.

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Recently, Foxit Reader modified their installer so that the adware was no longer optional but mandatory.

another reason to keep using a better PDF reader which is... SumatraPDF (i.e. http://goo.gl/gJA7 ). which loads up very fast anyways. it's easily my favorite PDF reader and don't get bunched with a load of crap.

Yet another reason why the Windows installation scheme is totally idiotic. Not only is it lots of unnecessary work (and confusing for beginner level users) it allows crap like this. I wonder how many versions will it take before we get something sensible in Windows.

I thought the days of crapware bundled with apps was already gone but it seems it's making a comeback. I really can't believe that developers would diminish the value of their own product by including adware with it. Just set a reasonable price for it if you want to get paid or serve ads on your website if you want to keep it free.

Only thing to remember which would make this really short.. Always read everything you do.

Problem is apps like Foxit PDF reader has it so you can't refuse the toolbar when trying to install the new version. They really screwed that up to the point people are leaving it cause of it.

I no longer search for installer version of apps, just search for PORTABLE versions instead and to HELL with all these people.

Actually, we should be careful while installing any software - big companies like Google, Symantec, InterActiveCorp (ask.com tooblar) tries to put their products on our machines in various "clean" software installers. IMO theres smooth barrier between them and adware companies - theyre doing this in same stinking way.

I got caught out when I tried out Pana's cloud antivirus. It installed toolbars and everything and I don't remember seeing a single option for it during install. It's not 1998 any more!

Sometimes I just click next... next... next... next... wait a god damn minute... BACK... Untick all that crap that I don't want to install.

Sometimes there isn't an opportunity to click back and I end up cancelling the install and starting again.

For me, it's most common with software that /didn't/ used to include crapware but that all of a sudden started to, like daemon tools. I think some developers even occasionally change the order that they present you the question to install the crap, with their new versions, to catch you out.

_DP said,
Sometimes I just click next... next... next... next... wait a god damn minute... BACK... Untick all that crap that I don't want to install.

Sometimes there isn't an opportunity to click back and I end up cancelling the install and starting again.

For me, it's most common with software that /didn't/ used to include crapware but that all of a sudden started to, like daemon tools. I think some developers even occasionally change the order that they present you the question to install the crap, with their new versions, to catch you out.


I think this proves that you should ALWAYS look before you click.

With a few exceptions here and there, i generally totally disregard software that comes bundled with adware, even if it is a popular program.

LauRoman said,
With a few exceptions here and there, i generally totally disregard software that comes bundled with adware, even if it is a popular program.

Fortunately many programs have light or non-installer (zip) versions on their sites, though you sometimes have to dig a little for them. CCleaner for example has a version with no toolbar.

LauRoman said,
With a few exceptions here and there, i generally totally disregard software that comes bundled with adware, even if it is a popular program.

Yeah, anything that offers to install google toolbar or chrome fits into that list for me.