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If you’re a regular here at MakeUseOf you’ll know we have a penchant for exploring quality, free open source software. Today we’re highlighting the importance of downloading these gems from the official software source, especially if you’re using a search engine to hunt for your download.

Sponsored listings that nearly always appear above the top search result can often point to unofficial sources that bundle harmful software (crapware, malware; call it what you like) along with the installer. This can occur before you’ve downloaded your chosen program, as part of an “updater” or browser toolbar which installs first.

In some cases these websites may even ask for payment, yet the software you ultimately download has already been released under a free license.

Tech site How-To Geek isolated a number of affected free programs that when searched for in major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo reveal sponsored listings that could potentially harm your PC should you download the software.

These include (but were not limited to):

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The official links to these projects have been included, so if you’re downloading any of these open source programs, ensure you’re not getting it from sponsored search results. Other software may also yield similar results, so it’s up to you to spot the fakes.

If you think you might have fallen foul to one of these scams then you can always scan your PC online 7 Reliable Sites To Do A Quick Free Anti-Virus Scan 7 Reliable Sites To Do A Quick Free Anti-Virus Scan Read More or with one of our recommended security tools 7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed 7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed Read More . If you have any cohorts who lack your expertise in technical capacity, be a good internet friend and let them know.

Read: Important Warning: Be Careful Downloading Open Source Apps via Search @ How-To Geek

Have you encountered any of these sites? Fallen foul? Does it get you mad? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

  1. Lazarus
    April 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Firefox
    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/f...

    with Adblock Plus
    http://adblockplus.org/

    Always has worked for me.

  2. Lazarus
    April 30, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Firefox
    http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/fx/

    with Adblock Plus
    http://adblockplus.org/

    Always has worked for me.

  3. Trevor Lenten
    April 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I've never had a problem just by going to download.com

  4. Trevor Lenten
    April 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I've never had a problem just by going to download.com

  5. Guest
    April 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    You can avoid all of that junk by using Ninite.com, No junk or toolbars ans a safe site. All the items listed here are found at the ninite site!

    • Mark O'Neill
      April 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      But some web developers who develop free open-source software depend financially on people visiting their website and clicking on adverts. That's why MUO tries as much as possible to link to the developer's actual site, instead of a mirror site.

      Bypassing the developer's site and going to somewhere like Ninite denies the developer that income which isn't really fair, considering what they are giving back.

  6. MerryMarjie
    April 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    One caution I have about free software is that clicking on the "Download Here" link will bring up another page with "DOWNLOAD" in huge bright lettering --- but it's for a completely different product which is NOT free. The software you want is further down the page (sometimes WAY down!) in much smaller letters and confusion abounds. I wish every Download button had the exact name of the product alongside of it.

  7. Al Hook
    April 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    i never use bing and i use a free toolbar remover i got from gizmos freeware i have a freind who 2/3rds of his screens were toolbars

    • anon
      April 26, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Gizmos Freeware is indeed a great site. I recommend it highly.

  8. Ifhamkhans
    April 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Whatever it will be careful before downloading

  9. Steve
    April 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Even from the main site this is an issue. If you go to Adobe to download Acrobat Reader, Flash or Shockwave you are asked if you want the Google Toolbar, and if you already have the toolbar then it asks about something else. I know these are meant to keep the software free, but everytime you do an update you have to remember to turn them off.

  10. anon
    April 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    You're using Bing - there's your problem! :-)

    • Mark O'Neill
      April 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      you get this problem with Google too. It isn't confined solely to Bing.

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