Almost all of the computer systems that end up on my bench with infections and performance issues are all caused
Everybody loves free software but choosing the wrong free application can sometimes end up costing you in the long run. Free software generally fall into 4 categories .
Open Source - Software that is truly free to use, modify and share. It should never contain malware or viruses and only very rarely will it be bundled with a browser toolbar or add-on option. I currently use many open source applications and operating systems and have been more than happy with their functionality, speed and small resource usage. Much of this software has been in development for many years now and is equivalent in features and functions to that of their proprietary and sometimes expensive counterparts. Most open source software is made available by the community effort of volunteer programmers, testers and even the users, with costs like server and internet fees financed through donations. If you want to see your favorite open source software continue to get better, be sure to report any "bugs" (not viruses but program errors) you find, help with programming or testing if you can and donate if possible.
Trusted Free Software that falls into this category normally comes from a well known and trusted company like Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and the like. This software is free to use but may have some restrictions and the software may be bundled with a toolbar, browser add-on or other feature, so best to do a custom install. Some examples of such software would be Microsoft Security Essentials, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash browser plug-ins and Apple Quick Time player. Because this software should only come from a well known and trusted source, it should never contain malware or viruses.
Free to use Software that falls into this category is free to use, malware and virus free but will install browser toolbars, add-ons or other system "features" if a default installation is performed but always allows for a custom installation and the ability to disable these "features" during the installation process. This software may contain adware as well but only display those ads within the application itself and never as a browser or system add-on, Skype being a good example.
You've been had If your are unlucky enough to download software in this category, your troubles will probably start as soon as you've hit the first OK button of the install. At a minimum, this type of software will also install adware, toolbars and other add-ons without the option to disable them using a custom install and if they have gone that far, you're probably going to end up with some nasty malware as well.
Much of the free software applications available today will by default install a browser toolbar, add-on or other system "feature" as a means of generating income from their free software. And if you let every free program that you install do the same, you soon end up with a system that can't run at peak performance because you have all of these "features", along with their update services, now running in the background, using your internet bandwidth and system resources.
When installing software, the majority of computer users will perform a default installation by just clicking through each of the OK buttons as they come up. Please don't do that. Any quality software will give you the choice to perform a "custom" or "advanced" installation, usually offered during the first few windows of the install process. During a custom install, you will be shown advanced settings at their default value and given the ability to change those values. Most of these advanced settings should be left at their default but what you'll want to watch out for is any settings pertaining to the installation of toolbars, add-on or "features". If it's a feature that you don't need or won't use, don't install it.
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