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If you’re not careful, you might get a virus from that fake movie file – or end up with a German porno instead of Winnie The Pooh.
Below are a number of telltales that you’re being deceived. It’s hard to be 100% sure, but these will go a long way in keeping your bandwidth from being wasted, and in keeping your computer away from potential threats.
1. Keep To A Trusted Source
Downloading movies has always been something of a murky grey area – Do you own the original? What are your regional laws? – So “trusted” is a strange word to mouth in this context. However, even these websites have makeshift ‘certified’ labels; a satisfied community.
A download source, or even a single uploader that has delivered a steady stream of quality material, can be relied upon with a fair amount of certainty. Call it the momentum of trustworthiness. Stay away from unknown sources – the metaphorical back-alleys of the internet – as much as you can, and you will likely not even need the next couple of tips.
2. Keep A Close Eye On The File Names
Movies are initially captured, compressed and uploaded by encoders. They’re proud people, as they should be, because they’re iconizing and trying to maintain a brand. As a rule, movie filenames are long, sometimes complicated and often ugly. This is because they convey a lot of information; who encoded the movie, what source was used, and which subtitle files will match the timecode.
You’ll sometimes encounter downloads that fail to convey this. If there’s no specific release stated in the folder, archive or movie filename, you’re either dealing with an amateur re-uploader or a swindler. You’ll do good staying away from movie.avi, and other downloads that are too obviously ‘simple’.
2. Double-Check The Filetypes
There are a ton of different movie containers, but only a few are regularly used for feature films. Most of the cases, you’ll have to deal with AVI’s, and MKV’s to a lesser extent. Sometimes, your movie will be an MOV, RM/REAL/RMV, or MP4. Other movie formats, like WMA, WMV, DV, SWF and 3GP are encountered as a rarity. That sums up the majority of them.
There are a couple of filetypes that you want to watch out for, and they’re headed by the executables. EXE files can infect and start damaging your computer as soon as they’re opened. That, and the fact that movie containers and executables are two entirely different things, should warn you away from these “movies”.
So if you encounter a movie with an EXE suffix, or one that requires an executable to “unpack”, you better turn around and don’t look back.
3. Be Wary Of Installing Extra “Codecs” Or “Licenses”
Sometimes it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but it is actually a particularly nasty virus looking to infect your computer. These video files at first reveal nothing, but then a warning pops up, telling you’ve got an outdated/missing codec, or need to download a special license to play the video.
It’s very well possible that your codecs are outdated. But never, ever, download new codecs from a link offered by the video file. For more information about, and where to find these codecs, take a look at 3 Ways to Play Unplayable Files on Your PC.
4. Stay Away From x3player & The Likes
A lesser known, and therefore all the more dangerous problem is the x3player. Your video file will tell you that it can’t be played with your native video player. Instead, it wants you to download one of the following ‘alternative’ players:
There’s no reason that a video file should be telling you to switch video players. Any such problem can surely be solved by updating your codecs. No matter which link you use to download these ‘alternative players’, you’re in for a nasty surprise.
Also check out 3 Easy Ways To Preview Partially Downloaded Video Files, so you can abort those fake videos in time. Do you have any other tips and tricks for us to avoid fake video files?