7 Safe Websites for Downloading Windows Software

safe-download-websites-featured

Windows has tons of free software, and of course there are many websites where you can download it. But the problem is that many of these freeware download sites claiming to be the best, bundle the software with custom installers, adware and crapware (Download.com, FileHippo and Softonic are big culprits). Often the developers of the freeware don’t even know that their software is being bundled with all manner of other things.

However, there are still a few websites that don’t bundle crapware with the actual software. The following list are a few safe software download sites where you don’t have to bother with bloat and other bad stuff.

safe-websites-to-download-software-sourceforge

The hugely popular download site makes it into our list after going through something of a turnaround lately. We initially excluded Sourceforge because it had been owned by Dice since 2012, and because of the infamous “DevShare” program bundled its downloads with various other software you probably didn’t want.

SourceForge was sold to BizX in 2016, and since then has not only had a nice new look, but been systematically removing those dodgy installers.

In other words, SourceForge is back to being the great site it once was, if not better.

best-safe-sites-to-download-windows-software

If you’re looking for any official Windows software, whether it’s security tools, Microsoft Office, or an ISO for Windows 10 itself, then the official Microsoft site should be the first port of call. You’ll not only find all the software packages you need but also optional updates and hotfixes including the .NET framework, driver kits, and service packs for things like the Microsoft Flight Simulator games. Also, if you need to install older software like Internet Explorer (don’t do it!), you can. Naturally, you shouldn’t expect to find third-party software on the official site. For that, you’ll need to read on.

free-software-download-sites-ninite

Ninite is one of the best free software download sites that provides some popular software like Chrome, VLC, Gimp, Foobar, and Spotify. While using Ninite you don’t have to worry about the bundled crapware, and best of all you can install all the software you want with just a click or two. You don’t have to install each and every software individually; Ninite automatically downloads the latest version and installs it for you.

free-software-download-sites-majorgeeks

MajorGeeks is one of those sites that looks really old with its outdated web design, but it is one of the most reputable free software download sites that doesn’t bundle the actual software in any custom installers and won’t trick you into downloading the crapware. Though the site is maintained by only a couple of geeks, they actually test the software in question for any adware or crapware before listing it on their website.

free-software-download-sites-softpedia

Softpedia is one the biggest and most popular free software download sites where you can find almost any free and paid software you want for multiple platforms. The good thing about Softpedia is that you will always get the latest version of the software you want. Moreover, Softpedia also provides you with software reviews and actual screenshots for almost all the popular and most-used software. If you’ve never used Softpedia, do give it a try.

free-software-download-sites-downloadcrew

DownloadCrew is one of those sites that has a messy user interface where it lists a ton of software right on the homepage with small fonts and stuff. However, while downloading from this site, you don’t have to think about the custom installer crapware. Moreover, you can find software for multiple platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS.

free-software-download-sites-snapfiles

SnapFiles is yet another freeware download site that doesn’t bundle any crapware whatsoever. One of the best things about SnapFiles is its different categories where you can find the top 100 free software, latest user reviews, top user favorites, top portable apps, etc. Just like any other site on this list, you can easily search for or use different software categories to quickly find your favorite software.

Surely I may have missed some of the other trusted software download sites where you can download applications without having to worry about the custom installers and other crapware. When all is said and done, you should always be careful when you are downloading and installing a software. Moreover, even the sites listed here are not perfect and may be subject to change as time goes on. Being a little careful never hurts.

Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above sites to download free software. Also, share your favorite software download sites that are free from crapware (other than the actual developer sites).

This article was first published in May 2016 and was updated in August 2018.

23 comments

  1. I’m surprised that you didn’t list cnet or download.com here. I’ve been using that site for years and have always found it to be one of the safest places to download windows accessories

    • With download. Com. Much software comes with their download manager which as a tendency to download crapware.
      It’s an opt-out system, and I sometimes it dosent remember your choice, plus the setting is buried in the settings page.

      Also source Forge has been sold and the new owners are removing the aware installers (slowly but surely)

      A good place. For old version is the aptly named http://www.oldversion.com, with a dated interface to match it’s name, it does what it says, providing old versions of many softwares.
      Want to see where Firefox started get firebird off oldversion.com
      Want Netscape navigator or Mozilla navigator get them at old version
      Want a add free version of utorrent get utorrent 2.2.1 off old version

      • Guess cnet or download.com has changed from what it used to be. Don’t want any nasty’s getting in my computer. And FYI in my opinion torrent sites are real virus magnets as far as I’m concerned. Won’t touch torrent sites on my machines

        • Until a few years ago I frequently downloaded from cnet,.com and occasionally from download.com with few problems.

          More recently, probably starting about 4 to 5 years ago, or maybe more, downloads from both sites began to have hidden and hard to remove crapware. now essentially all downloads from these sites have hidden crapware.

          I was a little slow in realizing the change, and paid a high price in much lost time, because of the crapware, which I got from both sites, before I stopped using them. I would never use either now.
          Ray

          PS. I often now use softpedia, and don’t recall ever getting crapware, or anything unwanted or problematic from softpedia, over the last few years.

          These comments are NOT recommendations, just a report of my experiences.

  2. I have used “Filehippo.com” with success many times over the last few years. Lately, they’ve changed some and you have to be careful what you click on to get what you really want.

  3. Very disappointed the soon-to-be de facto method for finding and installing all Windows software https://Chocolatey.org/ got forgotten, or (more likely) hasn’t been discovered by the author yet.

    At first I was about to give the benefit of the doubt for this being an old article, but then I noticed it was posted less than a month ago. Sorry but Chocolatey *has* been out for several years, so you have no excuses now. :)

    Silent installs, automatically de-selects adware and crapware from installers for you, and with Chocolatey 9.10 out now you can research and discover software directly in the command line from a much deeper well (community feed) of awesome free software that doesn’t ever require browsing to a website with a million (virus-riddled) popup ads to get thru.

    And now that Chocolatey Pro is finally out you *can* get real automatic virus scanning from VirusTotal.com with over 70 anti-virus engines, and automatic installation abort if more than 5 trigger the installer as “suspicious”. Of course if you’re poor, you could always do the same thing manually for free.

    Ninite.exe is the only item in this list that actually manages software, the rest are just websites hosting (sketchy) software. It’s just surprising that Ninite got included and Chocolatey didn’t, when they both perform silent installs (no more downloading installers from websites, no finding the executable in your downloads folder, no clicking thru installer menus), but ninite only focuses on a curated set of about two dozen softwares, while chocolatey has the capability of doing that to any Windows software out there that you’ve already been downloading and installing manually for years.

    Best part is the software you’re looking for probably already has a chocolatey package someone made for it. And if not, anyone can build a metadata package for any (license-free) software already out there, and post it to the community feed for all to enjoy.

    Please, please, please: If you write stories or comments on a tech blog in 2016, DO NOT keep suggesting people go to MegaShareUpload.com and DownloadFreeSoftware.virus

    Especially since starting with Windows 10, Microsoft is including ‘OneGet’, which is a like “a manager of package managers”, and now it’s just a matter of time until they include the Chocolatey Community Feed as a source by default.
    http://www.hanselman.com/blog/AptGetForWindowsOneGetAndChocolateyOnWindows10.aspx

    Anyway, sorry.

  4. It is not always safe to download from developer site. I many time saw such kind of malicious software with viruses, ads installers.. etc inside of them. And yes – not all of the download sites are bad. The good example is a http://www.raritysoft.com/ that checks every file with more then 40 popular antivirus systems before it is published in their catalog. This is an example report page – http://panda-antivirus-pro.raritysoft.com/windows/antivirus-reports No one software developer will show such kind of information on their website – so it is not always safe to download from developer site. Raritysoft with their antivirus system guarantee the you will download absolutely safe software. Could you please review this website in your article ?

  5. Its nice to hear that or this is a good one., a bullet about to hit your chest is a good one too. depending on which side of the bullet you are on.
    See what I mean, how about giving pro and cons of the programs, useful information that would make me want to got and look further. Even in the comment entries, give some pro and cons, who cares if you like it. but I do caare if you say why or why not. C’mon all you super computer users and experts, give us poor computer knowledgeable ingrates some reason to try out these programs. On a scale of 1 to 10 (the best) I would give Ninite and Major Geeks a 9 and a 9, because they are easy to understand., You don’t haven’t have to jump through loops to use them. Cons, Major Geeks could use a better face plate, better organized in catagories. Thank you, my thoughts only.

  6. Oh My someone left out http://www.PortableFreeware.com
    Simple to navigate and since all are portable, you can save them to a flashdrive and use them there. No install. It’s like going back to DOS when we saved programs into their own Folder and used batch files to move there and run them after putting BAT or BATCH in the Environment. Through with it? Just delete it.

  7. SourceForge isn’t owned by Dice Holding anymore. It’s now owned by BIZX, which terminated the DevShare program that inserted junkware into the installers.

  8. I notice you did not mention Spyware unless you included it in the Crapware category.

    I would not trust any software from Microsoft.com because there is a good chance that it contains or is spyware

  9. To author, Vamsi Krishna, your tips for safe download sites is much appreciated!

    But, really, in your intro, you should update your list of popular software downloads, since paint.net is way way more intuitive than gimp, and it has oodles & oodles of frills for both novices and professionals.

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