If you know where to go safely there are a lot of free software solutions available on the internet. But the problem is finding good safe locations to download the software from. So many of the companies bundle in malware and spyware programs as a way for them to make money on their services. And these bundled programs can cause your computer to have issues, slowing it down as it works to process the additional programs that are doing little more than reporting what you do and where you go on the internet. Here is a list of software download sites that I have used with great results. Of course the preferred method is to download direct from the developer, but sometimes that is very difficult to determine and then find the download site on the internet.
First looking at the reputation of a download site is the best way to determine a site’s safety rating. I highly recommend that you install the WOT(Web of Trust) browser extension so it can tell you if a site is considered safe. WOT rates a site based on safety and reputation and will quickly notify you if a site is risky and should be avoided. The next thing is when you download a program and do the installation, pay attention to the terms of service and look for where they might be trying to get you to install additional software. Many are doing this in such a way that you have pay really close attention or you will suddenly find a plethora of search helper toolbars and pop-ups each time you to to the Internet.
Now for a safe location to find and download free software. It is difficult to recommend many sites because what has historically been a really good resource can suddenly start loading up the software with unwanted installers. But the main one I would use is located at www.majorgeeks.com. The guys that run this site seem to be committed to user safety. All the software that they host has been tested and they do a really good job of disclosing any additonal and potentially unwanted programs that are bundled within the download.
It is a sad state when you consider one of the things that made the internet such a great resource in the beginning was the availability of free resources and programs. One such site that appears to have gone to the dark way is www.download.com. Run by Cnet this site was at one time the resource for just about everything. Now you can download just about anything from this site and install it on your computer and within an hour have all sorts of additional security and cleaner programs installed without even realizing it. Finding another source is the only real solution.
As always make sure you have a top notch security program installed and it is up to date before trying to download and do any installation. And always have a good backup. A backup is more than one copy, not just all your data sitting on an external drive, they also fail.