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Sneaky Software Installs

When you install a downloaded program, do not blindly just click through the install. Read everything! Even when you download a program from the maker's site there may be 'gotcha's' that you don't want.

Some sites that offer downloads may differ in the options for free programs. In at least one offering, Foxit Reader, a free and popular pdf reader, two sites did not offer the option to not install the Foxit PDF Creator Toolbar. The installer from the maker's site did offer that option. And one site did not offer any 'extras' and installed the Foxit Reader without adding 'Foxit PDF Creator Toolbar, Set Ask as my homepage or make Ask my default search provider'.

(Foxit is an alternative to Adobe Reader that seems to have a lot of security issues.)

My testing the Foxit Reader downloads.

I downloaded Foxit by going to Google and typing 'Foxit Reader'. The first site that came up was the one I clicked. The address in the address bar showed 'http://www.foxitsoftware.com/products/reader/'. This is the Foxit Readers main page.

I clicked the Download Now bar and the file downloaded from 'http://cdn01foxitsoftware.com/. This download would have installed 'Foxit PDF Creator Toolbar, set Ask as my homepage and made Ask as my default search provider if I had not unchecked all of the boxes provided before I clicked 'Next'. When the install completed, nothing was installed I didn't want.

I then decided to check the next page that was offering the Foxit Reader, CNET. On my desktop with ESET Security, ESET blocked the download page.

The next page offering the Foxit Reader was FileHippo.com. ESET did not block the download.

Both the CNET and FileHippo installer for Foxit did not have the option to not install the Foxit PDF Creator Toolbar.

Some screenshots

I downloaded Foxit from Softpedia and installed it on my test machine. There was no option at all to install the Foxit PDF Creator Toolbar, Set Ask as my homepage or make Ask my default search provider. None of the unwanted options were installed.

I learned it really does pay to know where you are getting your downloads!