Question of the day: how to determine a reliable free tool from malware?

Free but highly-appreciated software applications are rare, but they are like candies of the virtual world. If you find one, your experience becomes a little more pleasant. However, free but useless tools are like stones in a road that won’t budge to make way. What factors determine which applications are bound to be praised, and which ones criticized? There are several factors to observe:

  • First of all, it depends on the fact how an application is distributed. If its main channel is an official website, the program could be considered as fit for usage. Unfortunately, more than a few free tools turn to more desperate techniques, like being delivered in software bundles or thanks to drive-by strategies.
  • Secondly, whether application will display third-party advertisements in exchange for free services. Even though some legitimate programs could display only approved and certified promotional material, but there are hundreds of adware parasites that display online adverts, leading to phishing or other suspicious domains.

Malware or not?

  • Programs that are pre-installed into computers. This could be indicated with a term of “bloatware”. One of the famous of examples is Pokki which definitely stirred the calm waters. From 2012 or 2013, Lenovo computers were sold with a perk: Pokki software. However, the actual response from clients indicated that they did not like Pokki’s presence. Furthermore, users were forced to employ stronger program removal methods because the desktop menu did not budge easily. Currently, it is indicated as a potentially unwanted program (PUP) which could be installed into operating systems without users’ permission.
  • It monitors online activities and shows tailor-suited ads. This means that online adverts will be shaped according to recently-initiated search queries and visited domains.
  • It does not do much. If a free program has barely features and you find it close to useless, it might be designed for the purposes of completing pay-per-click schemes.

Selecting software can be difficult sometimes. Regular users like free samples, free programs and free trials without considering their price on privacy. Please, regularly scan operating systems to avoid malware, and check Task Manager or Control Panel to find tools that could be not considered dangerous, just unwanted.

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