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As a general rule of thumb, you should never download freeware apps unless it comes from a reputable source. Otherwise you could be letting yourself in for a whole lot of trouble if that cool little freeware app happens to contain malicious code. However if you MUST try out a new program which has come from dubious sources, you can use a Windows feature to protect your PC.

When you have downloaded the program, don’t double-click to install it just yet. First, right-click on the program icon and choose “run as”. When the “run as” box comes up, you’ll see the following box :


Select “current user” and make sure the “protect my computer and data from unauthorized program activity” box is ticked. Then click OK. You can then do a limited installation of the program in “safe mode” so you can check it out. Having the “protect my computer” option ticked means that the Registry can be read by the application but the application can’t change anything in the Registry. So if there is any rogue code in that freeware app, it won’t wreak any havoc on your PC.

When you are convinced that the app is OK, come out of the safe mode and install the program properly.

  1. David threefive
    January 8, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Returnil a very simple way of protecting your computer while trying out new software. I first read about it here:

  2. fred
    January 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Use Virtual PC, VMware player / server, or Virtual Box (all free) to test programs in virtual sessions first. That is the best way.

    • Aibek
      January 4, 2008 at 8:18 pm


  3. Mark O'Neill
    January 4, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Well the Windows box DOES say "selecting it may cause the program to function improperly". So perhaps it was just the program you were trying to run that didn't like the safe mode?

    It has worked for me whenever I have used it.

  4. mark
    January 4, 2008 at 1:53 am

    This might be useful if it worked!! I've tried this numerous times with no results; the program simply doesn't start. The only way to try a new program is to use something like Sandboxie, and even that has problems (i.e. the sandbox not deleting all its contents when you close the program). In my opinion, the only way to really test new software, if you can afford it, is to have a second, test computer which you don't mind messing around with.

    • Aibek
      January 4, 2008 at 8:18 pm

      An alternative way would be to install applcations on virtual disk. I think 'Virtual Box' is one of the programs that can help you with this. Basically, you need to create a virtual disk and install suspicious programs on top of it.

      • Kieranz
        January 5, 2008 at 7:15 am

        Hi Aibek
        Have never tried using virtual disk, and chance of a tutorial or links for non geeks. Many thks.

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