Tip: Avoid CNET Download.com’s ad-supported installer by using the Direct Download Link

Last year CNET started bundling an “ad-supported stub installer” with downloads on Download.com. This installer was CNET’s way to bring Ask Toolbar-like crapware bundles to CNET downloads. The installer wasn’t added to all downloads on Download.com but was added to enough downloads for people to take notice and come up in arms. Back then the only ways to avoid installing crapware courtesy CNET was to either

  • Be very careful when downloading files from CNET, making sure to avoid installing crapware offered by the CNET installer;
  • Create a CNET account, login to that account whenever downloading something, and using a direct download link;
  • Or not using Download.com altogether.

While I’m sure many people opted for option number three, there are still times some people download from Download.com (sometimes we have no option except to use Download.com because some developers only put their files on Download.com). For those of us that still use Download.com, you will be relieved to know Download.com now clearly marks downloads that have the CNET ad-supported stub installer as “CNET Installer Enabled”; and Download.com now allows everyone to download via a Direct Download Link that bypasses the CNET installer — you no longer need a CNET account for a direct download. So the next time you venture to Download.com, keep your eyes open for a direct download link when downloading software that come with CNET installer.

Stay safe everyone.

[via Raymond.cc]

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  • David Roper

    [@Hunter] Hunter, you “missed it” because it is not on every CNET offering. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.

  • Hunter

    Thanks! Don’t know how I missed that link. I knew there must be a way though and you came up first on google.

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  • Katie

    AWESOME!Now i can run the programs i wanted without using this terrible installer!You are the best!

  • Damien

    Nice!Thanks for the tip!I was downloading file with the installer,and i declined all the things,but it still installed them.Don’t trust these installers.

  • davidroper

    J, they did take it away, but do not dispair, mon frere (did I say that right?)
    Anyway, look down and you shall see in blue SEE FULL DESCRIPTION.
    click on that to see all specs and one of them will be the website. Go there to see the download section. I got it that way tonight without getting out and Googling it. Just sayin’

    I know that you know all this already but

  • J

    looks like they took the direct link away.

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  • Pixel-Solitaire

    Cnet is acting just like the ones who are making viruses and Trojan Horses. Or maybe a little notch above. Greed + hypocrisy = shame.

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  • wayne

    Looks like Cnet has gone to the dark side, I tried the direct download link, and guess what I got. CBS interactive download manager…………….

  • vika6

    @Paul: Hey Paul, don`t recommend Tucows anymore – they are now even worse than CNET not providing the direct download link alternative.
    Read my post # 19.

  • vika6

    Read very informative article on this subject : http://www.emsisoft.com/en/kb/articles/tec120224/

  • Jon Steedley

    In the past, I have used Download.com a good bit.
    Today, if I see soft/freeware I want, I’ll google majorgeeks.com.
    majorgeeks.com’ google page has a built-in search field, so I can type in the program I want.
    Usually, that goes straight to the majorgeeks page I’m looking for.
    There are a great many good to very good download sites,
    but I really like majorgeeks a lot.
    Another excellent site is http://www.nirsoft.net/.
    Nir Sofer writes some great freeware, & can really help windoz users.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbors!

  • jilker

    Avoid also softonic.com, almost all of downloads contain its crappy toolbar :P

  • Paul

    @Giovanni: Or MajorGeeks. Or FileHippo. Or Tucows….

    I use MajorGeeks because they have an Australian mirror site.

  • Giovanni

    The best and easiest way to avoid crappy CNET installer is to download any software on SOFTPEDIA….as simple as that…LOL!

    And anyway, to find out a direct download link of a software when using a web installer on any website, you can also use this excellent FREE PORTABLE tool as best alternative to URL SNOOPER:



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  • Paul

    @jevvv: A bit of judicious googling may find alternative sources. As I said in #8, Easeus links only to CNet, but their software (current versions) can be found in several other locations.

  • Actually even as a registered and signed in user I get the CNET installer button shown as above.

    Any time I ever used it my antivirus would have a hissy fit (ESET)

    Thankfully the direct download link is there. I had to CNET again for the same reason as others have mentioned – suppliers only having their prog on CNET not some of the other alternatives.

    Thanks for keeping us aware Ashraf and regular posters

  • Gene


    Offhand, I can’t recall anything I wanted in the last couple years that was not readily available at one of the good alternative sources Paul mentioned in post #8.

  • Philippe

    Per experience, you need to be careful with every download or installation of new software. Adobe try to put on your machine some AV, other try to put some search bar etc. Always read well every thing.

  • Paul

    @Col. Panek: Not always. The Gizmo’s download link for Easeus Partition Master Free takes you back to the Easeus download page which in turn takes you to (wait for it) – the CNet Installer Enabled link.

    MajorGeeks is way up there in the trustworthy stakes.

  • Paul

    However this does not solve the problem where the home site offers only CNet as a download source. Easeus is a notable case in point. They produce great free software – Partition Master and ToDo Backup saved my skin last week when the Hard Drive containing my OS failed. Partition Master Free are actually available from several sites including FileHippo, SoftPedia, Tucows and MajorGeeks (all reliable sources), but the only link offered on their own site is the CNet Installer Enabled one.

  • utea

    I wont only not download from cnet but will not download any program that uses cnet no matter what it is now, and i had a account with them since they started or the same year they started but not anymore will not download anything that has crapware if I see it in a program anything about ask bar I cancel the program to hell with them I dont need the companys that do that also that is why I use no google stuff on my computer at all, tired of the hi jacking by them.

  • david roper

    Great tip. I shall be looking for it to download directly and not from CNET. Nobody LIKES to be tricked into adding crapware by installing.

    Ashraf is one of the two “geeks” (a loving term I use) whom I trust with my computer these days. Thanks Ashraf for being MY “geek”.

  • Nowadays the only download site I trust is Gizmo’s List at http://www.techsupportalert.com/ where things are discussed, rated, categorized, and listed with direct download links. When I look for Linux apps, I search there for what I need, then go to the distro’s repositories to download.

    Besides Gizmo and dottech.org, I don’t need any more software advice.

  • sos22

    I looked and do not see any “direct download” button at CNET.

  • Clockmendergb

    Sorry for mispellilling your name Ashraf on my previous post

  • Clockmendergb

    Ive had an account with CNET for at least 10 years and used it a lot.
    In fact it was my turn to site.
    That stopped when they started this downloader crap farce.
    Its a shame to see the demise of this companies standards.
    I of course have no problems with DotTech which has given me a lot of help and information over the last few years
    Thanks Ashrif

  • Zephyrdell

    I noticed this quite sometime ago and was against this immediately. I automatically went to the actual website to get my download and thank goodness the downloads I needed and need are still available there. Thanks for posting this comment!