Senior Computer Tutor
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Problems Downloading
Free Programs,
such as 'Irfanview'

A number of readers have mentioned being confused about downloading various free programs (such as Irfanview, the image-editing program I use constantly).

Well, there was a time when downloading a free program was an easy and straightforward process. Nowadays it can be a time-consuming, aggravating experience.

What’s happened is this: A developer who creates a popular program (that he has decided to give away free) often finds his website being overwhelmed with download requests, which can use up lots of expensive bandwidth.

So what does he do? He gives a few larger commercial sites permission to take over the job of having visitors download the program.

But there is a problem.

These commercial sites are in business to make money, and giving up bandwidth so visitors can download free stuff does not earn them any. So what do they do? They try to trick visitors into downloading other stuff along with the free program they actually want.
    This "other stuff" usually appears to also be free, so what’s the big deal?
Well, many of these other "free" programs contain "adware," "scareware," and "nagware" that can haunt you forever. Many will suggest that you download a "free scan" which will look for problems in your registry. Not surprisingly, you will be told many registry errors were found and that they can fix them for you – to the tune of $50 or so. And if you say no, you’ll likely be told it will cost you about $50 to have the program removed.

Yet another trick is to have your download handled by a “download manager” of some kind.

Here’s the fine print of one such program named InstallIQ: (Notice the items I have flagged in red.)
    InstallIQ™ Information

    Click the 'Download' button to begin downloading the software using InstallIQ™. When the download box appears, click 'Run' or 'Open' to start downloading. Once the download has been completed, the installation process will begin.

    InstallIQ™ manages the installation of your software. During the installation we set cookies and update your registry:

    Our websites install cookies on your computer. The product and last session cookies includes information about when and what products you downloaded. The user cookie helps us to recognize you on subsequent visits. An identification cookie is placed on your computer if you choose to register with us. None of our cookies contain Personally Identifiable Information. For information on how to remove cookies click here.
How to Remove Cookies

To delete cookies in Internet Explorer:
1. Click the Tools button and then click Internet Options.
2. On the General tab, under Browsing history, click Settings.
3. Click the View files button.
4. Click the Name column heading to sort all the files alphabetically, and then scroll down until you see the file your
5. Right-click the cookie click Delete, and then click Yes.
6. Close the window that contains the list of files, and then click OK twice to return to Internet Explorer.
    InstallIQ™ also updates your registry with a unique installer id. The installer ID allows us to recognize you on all our websites.

    How to Remove Registry Entries
    1. Start RegEdit and find the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/ key.
    2. Press the delete key or click the right mouse button and click Delete.
    3. Exit Registry Editor.


    Important: This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs.

    For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

    InstallIQ™ automatically uninstalls once you have received your download.

    Advertisers & Publishers - Learn more about generating revenue and traffic from your Windows application using InstallIQ™
Beyond all this, when you click on the Download button for the program you want there will often appear a message in small text saying, "If your download doesn’t begin immediately, click here."

Well, your download usually won't begin immediately (although it could) for this reason: The site owners are hoping you will become impatient and click on another Download button, thinking it’s an alternative button for the program you want. It’s not.

If you look carefully at the webpage you’ll likely notice several Download buttons scattered among a variety of items, laid out in a deliberately confusing way. Again, this is to trick you into downloading something you probably don’t want and don’t need.

In the case of Irfanview, I have made it safely downloadable from my site: (Look for Irfanview in the right-hand column.)

PS: Downloading Google free stuff does not involve any of the manipulations described above.

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