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How to be confirm if a free software is safe for downloading?

  1. i am not really used to d/l-ing softwares that much. however i want to do so now! for example, i want to download a free screensaver creator. what precaution measures should i take?

    IMPORTANT
    is it safe to download something if it wants to be installed only in the windows folder of my c drive?

    before you download something, how do YOU make sure if it is safe?

    any help will be much appreciated. :D

  2. I don't download anything that isn't offered and recommended by Tucows.com or my friends. You just simply never know.

    You should be at the point now where you should be able to develop your own screensaver creator. Hook up with MyMyspaceLayouts: she'll steer you right. You've got enough of a network that you don't need to take a pig in a poke (ie guess blind).

  3. rain,
    i visited tucows after reading your feedback. however, they have no freeware that creates screensavers. all are sharewares.

    do you know if softwares recommended by downloadsquad are safe? i found some free stuff there that i like.

    if anyone knows, please share your expertise. is downloadsquad reliable?

  4. I try to download most my software from http://www.download.com/

    And others are a crapshoot to me. I have no idea if it's safe or not but download it anyway crossing my fingers. Then I make sure I run all my virus and spyware scans later that night.

  5. One answer - you can never be sure. Sad but true.

    One way you could do it (if you were into hardcore programming), however, is to download only un-compiled open-source programs and then read through all of the code before compiling it yourself. Really the only way to be sure.

    Since I guess you're not into that kind of programming (or you wouldn't ask this question :-) ), the only other way to have a tiny bit of certainty, is to investigate before downloading/installing. I.e. search for people posting about problems caused by the given software.

    A general advise would be to go for open source collaborations, since they often have a well-developed forum/wiki with focus on security issues.

    What NEVER to do: NEVER download software that is advertised through pop-up windows, camouflaged as virus/spy-ware alerts and so on. There are tons and tons of this stuff out there, and some of it can even fool the ventured internet user.

    So finally, it all comes down to doing your research properly and then an amount of praying :-) .... and some good anti-virus software.

    - Biyang Hansen

  6. "i want to download a free screensaver creator"

    I wouldn't trust one of those ever. Really.

  7. Don't ask how I know this but isn't there a scan you can do before downloading something to see if it has viruses because some porn sites state that they check to make sure that their downloads are safe?

    ** runs from the forum **

  8. AFAIK, there are online scanners but you have to have downloaded the file first.

  9. OH GO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-D! :(

    thanks all, for all this valuable feedback.
    it is THIS complicated? i had no idea.

    mark, where were you before i downloaded one of those things? it's your fault you didn't read my mind and stop me! ; )

    i was so excited about making screensavers as a way to spread my images - something i never tried before - that i couldn't help downloading one! and right afterwards i had this nagging feeling that i made a mistake and i ended up seeking help here.

    gosh, what's gonna happen to me now!

    ok then, what is the best way to scan my pc NOW? i do have avg installed - is it good enough for the job now that i have made this stupid stupid mistake?

    please help while i go write "i will never download a software before being sure"
    5000 times in my notebook.

  10. I tend to get downloads from sources I trust like Download Squad or from somewhere like SourceForge, but even then you have to be careful. I have one Firefox extension which is good, though; McAfee's
    SiteAdvisor. Normally I wouldn't go anywhere near McAfee, but all this does is give you SiteAdvisor's ratings next to your Google results. At the very least it gives me a better idea if I really want to follow a click and it's very useful.

  11. hi cj!
    i am actually in the process of accessing your blog - via my other browser!

    thanks for the extension. ok, i'm off to mozilla.

  12. Ah you're using Flock now, right? Maybe they'll come out with one for Flock soon; I think they have an IE one now as well, so who knows? I'm just cautious about this kind of thing; I refuse to log in as administrator on XP, so I find that helps a bit too.

    If you've already downloaded something though, I'm not sure how confident I'd be in AVG finding it. I use AVG too and think it's great, but it does take a day or two to catch up; I'd have to say AntiVir is probably the best antivirus right now. I use AV-Comparatives to keep up to date with what's going on and they seem to agree. Might be worth a switch.

    For an online scanner I'd try Housecall and Kaspersky; they're probably the best two I know of. Hopefully you didn't catch anything, but just on the safe side - do you have your install disc handy? ;)

  13. It is not useful to many folk but I do just mention that Linux users do not have to fiddle with anti virus software. There are no viruses in Linux.

  14. yeah! i am using flock! how did you know??????? :D

    ok, i will check the online scanners also.

    but um, install disc? do i have it handy? what install disc? the operating system? i think it's lying around somewhere. if not, i can shell out 6 dollars and get it. oops..... is bill gates around?

  15. hi 404!
    i didn't see your comment before posting mine.

    um, is it possible to run both linux and windows in the same pc? like what mac does now - having two os? i never tried linux!

  16. Yes it is. You can dual boot Win / Linux. Or you can run Linux off a disc or off a USB for trial purposes.

  17. sounds interesting!

    i hope it's not awfully hard to grasp! i don't really have an A+ learning curve, when it comes to computers :D

  18. Having said that I am peculiar in that I do not understand why any one fully possessed of their faculties would want to run Windows anyway. But that is just me. :)

  19. windows just happened, you know! it's not like i made a conscious decision. over where i live, it comes preloaded when folks buy computers - shop owners install it along with a bundle of s/w's. and i didn't even know of anything else then {blushing}

    and when i got wind of linux, i thought one has to be a geek to use it. but i think otherwise now. maybe i will graduate to linux soon!

  20. Well a lot of linux users are geeks:) But it isnt mandatory. :)

  21. a quiz revealed that i am 22% geek. hmmmm, maybe that means i can be 22% linux user!

  22. Definitely not mandatory to be a geek to run Linux. It can be very much point and click unless you want to dig down into the command line or configuration files (where it does help if you spell stuff correctly...). Installing software is mostly a few clicks using the package manager. There are a lot of good support forums and many of them are noob friendly. I recently had a good experience with the Fedora forums.

    Ubuntu is very user friendly (it was my first distro) and they're coming out with a new release in a few days.

    I'm now a happy Fedora user.

    My lappy happens to triple boot Ubuntu, Fedora and Vista. But that's not for the faint of heart (unless you have an uber geek friend holding your hand and answering panicked emails when you can only boot into Windows). The only reason I'm keeping Vista around is for Skype (no video support in their Linux version). The last time I booted to Windows was to install the patches. So it's been a week.

    Best way to get started is to download one of the Live CDs and give it a whirl. It doesn't touch your hard drive. In fact, I have a Kubuntu CD I keep at work because I refuse to use their virus/trojan/whatever infested Windows boxes (XP plugged right into the DSL modem, no firewall, out of date AV and no service packs installed). I do what I need to do in Open Office and email it to myself for my personal archives.

  23. I use SimplyMEPIS and it has skype included.

  24. oh god!
    so many new things here! i feel both giddy AND greedy! and sigh, my offline friends are even less of a geek than i am!

  25. Linux users do not have to fiddle with anti virus software. There are no viruses in Linux.

    wish it were true indeed. here is just a tiny subset.

  26. I would be happier having a virus to deal with than some forms of malware and I'm sure malicious programs exist on every format - even the mac I'm using right now.

    Firefox is exploitable - aren't most browsers?

  27. um,
    how does flock fare as a browser? a no-no like ie? i am talking in the context of virus, not user-friendly features.

  28. I think Flock is pretty good as far as browsers go; it's a Mozilla-based browser so as far as security goes, it's not bad, and it's features make up for it's shortcomings. It's like the little sister of Firefox, so I wouldn't worry too much, Sanjida. But it's true that every browser is exploitable.

    The problem we face (and this is especially true for anti-virus programs) is that we live in a cyberworld where attacks happen so quickly that the attacks can spread before patches are available. If you don't install those Windows updates immediately, you're vulnerable. Browsers and anti-viruses are really the last line of defence, not the first; the first line of defence is your behaviour. Don't go to suspicious sites; don't download things from unknown sources; don't click links in emails; don't open attachments; it's your behaviour that matters. Scans are great for a weekly or monthly check, but they're not going to do much more than tell you if anything has slipped through your defences.

    All operating systems are vulnerable, but if you're know what you're doing they're not necessarily any less secure than any other. Windows is problematic but personally I think a locked down XP is more secure than Vista. There are no known Mac viruses in the wild, but the possibility for one exists; the same for Linux. It's just that 95% of computers use Windows; hackers can make money putting malware on your system, so why would they waste time targeting only 5% of the population?

    And if you do get malware or a virus, you can try using a program to get rid of it, but a lot of them are nasty; they sink their teeth in so far that you risk damaging your system by removing them. SpyBot flatout refuses for some of them. That's why the only way you know you're safe is to reinstall, to go back to a previous safe version of your operating system. How else can you know it's really gone? That's why I think the install disk or at least a system restore disk is vital - forget an antivirus, that's what every user needs.

    Hm, maybe this should be a post... isn't that what we normally tell people in the forums? :D

  29. it is a blog post. do you think i can steal the whole post and post it in my blog and give you credit and link to your blog? :D

    or if you want to paste it in your blog as a post, then that's fine too. just tell me asap :D

  30. Sure, I'd be honoured if you posted it! I might take my time and do a more detailed one in a few days as well, so if you matched this against your thoughts and your experience with the screensaver, it'd be a very interesting read. :)

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