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.
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.
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.
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.
MajorGeeks is one of those sites that looks really old with its outdated web design, but it is one of the most reputable free software download sites that doesn’t bundle the actual software in any custom installers and won’t trick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.
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.
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.
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.