Free is not freeware!

“Free Download” is not all it is cracked up to be. Be very wary of proprietary (licensed) software vendors making their software available as a “Free Download” – this is a nifty trick to get some Internet surfers to download their software, thinking they have found the perfect piece of software that will just “do the trick”.

Not so – most of these “free downloads” are only “free” in the sense that payment is not demanded upfront BEFORE you download the software. Besides, if you are using paid internet access, you end up “paying” for this free download with your megabytes.

In a bid to sell their software, vendors have become aware of the power of the search engine. Type “free software download” in any of the major search engines and you’ll end up with hits galore. SOE (Search Engine Optimization) “experts” may argue that it’s  the power of Internet marketing at work, using the right keywords and phrases which are “popular” on the Internet and you are sure to get a lot of “hits” on your site. Be that as it may, punting proprietary software as if it is “free” is simply dishonest, to use polite language.

Be very alert when you look for free, OpenSource software on the Internet. A good rule of thumb is to only use websites which allow those who download their freeware to review the software and to post feedback on their sites. This is a good way to keep honest those who upload freeware and/or opensource versions of their software onto such sites. Websites which go through the trouble of putting their software through a “screening process” is also worth frequenting – they deserve a thumbs-up. Another “check” is to visit repositories dedicated to opensource and/or freeware software.

Another smart thing is to always read the fine print – usually tucked away somewhere on the site regarding End-User Licence Agreement(s) (EULAs). Sometimes the EULA regarding the software is so restrictive, it might not be worth your trouble to download it. Another irritation is the “limiting features” of some of the freeware out there. In some cases it amounts to selling a four-wheel car with only three wheels. Yes, if you are some escape artist-type, you might be able to drive the car around the first bend, but for the rest of humanity, it will just not be a smooth ride.

In conclusion, use your “websmarts” when looking for software and don’t spend your precious megabytes to download software which are of little, if any, use to you.

Long live the net!