Below is a list of 8 free software download sites for Windows. There are many free software download sites for Windows, but are they safe? Whenever you download something, it is possible that it downloads malware or viruses. Sure, you’ve got the best antivirus software, but there’s no point in making it work when it’s not supposed to.
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can check if a download is safe, and we’ll also mention a couple of our favorite sites for downloading free software for Windows.
ARE FREE SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD SITES FOR WINDOWS SAFE?
There are only two ways to know if a download site is safe. You can check its reputation and test its downloads yourself.
There are companies that rate the safety of sites. One of the most popular sites for this is WOT or Web of Trust. WOT ranks sites based on community ratings, reviews, and machine learning algorithms. There are WOT plugins for Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers. If the plug-in is installed, you can check the download site.
You can also check the site before accessing it. Go to virustotal and enter the website address. It will check with a bunch of other reputation and virus tracking sites and let you know if the site is safe.
This does not mean that what you download from the site does not have malware or viruses. There are a couple of ways to test the download.
- Use a sandbox browser like Sandboxie to download it. In the sandboxed web browser, log into Total Virus and submit the download for testing.
- Download the program inside a virtual machine and test it there.
SAFE AND FREE SOFTWARE DOWNLOAD SITES FOR WINDOWS
To compile this list, we looked for sites on WOT, VirusTotal, Norton Safe Web, URLVoid, and ScanURL. At the time of this writing, none of the download sites showed any problems on the site controllers.
On the web since 2004 and ranked Alexa at 625, FileHippo is solid. FileHippo claims that they manually select the software and test it for malware and viruses. They also do not allow software that bundles other software or browser toolbars. FileHippo currently has over 40,000 program versions listed.
Be careful if you do a web search for FileHippo. There are many sites out there with similar names and URLs.
Nirsoft is a freeware utility site that was created and currently run by a guy named Nir Sofer. He wrote himself all the software utilities you see on the site.
Each utility is completely free and usually very small in size. This is because each utility is designed to perform only one task and one task. For example, some of the most popular utilities on the site are password viewers, which will show you the passwords stored on your computer, browser, etc.
More than just a free software download site, Ninite is also a package management system. Using it as a package management system, Ninite can be used to automate the installation of your favorite software and keep it up to date, with just one click. This is probably the safest site on the list.
The number of free apps is limited. It covers most of the software you would install on a new computer first. Chrome, Firefox, 7-zip, iTunes, VLC, Malwarebytes are among the free downloads that Ninite can provide and manage.
Even older than FileHippo, Softpedia has been a staple for software downloads since 2001. Softpedia hosts many free downloads on their physical servers. This means they have even more to gain by making sure apps are safe. That’s a lot of work when they have over 1.2 million apps, drivers and games at their disposal.
By offering some of the best known Windows freeware in one easy-to-read and searchable site, Download Crew should be on your list. Download Crew has been around for over 10 years, boasting nearly 300,000 members and over 33 million downloads.
The sister site is Download Crew Store, where proprietary software can be obtained at discounted prices. Between the two you will have everything you need in the cheapest way possible.
When it comes to free software download sites, it’s hard to tell them apart. They all do the same thing. All of them offer downloads. What might distinguish File Horse is that they also keep archives from previous versions of the software.
So, if an update of your favorite app makes an unwanted change, you can download the previous version here and restore it. File Horse also maintains a directory of free cloud apps.
Don’t be fooled by the early 2000s design. Major Geeks is a legitimate free software download site. Founded in 2001, Major Geeks has built a reputation by being one of the first to test all the software they offer.
First, they check the reputation of the company and the software, then scan it with several virus scanners, including VirusTotal. If it passes, Major Geeks actually installs the software on their VMWare workstation to test functionality. If it meets their standards, the software is listed. This completeness deserves their military-style theme.
Partly a website and part an app that is probably already on your computer, the Microsoft Store has a lot of good free programs. Being Microsoft, a reputation already exists and you would like to think they are hosting secure software.
Some come from the big names you already know, like Netflix, Apple and, of course, Microsoft. Some are made by smaller development teams but can be very useful. Not all apps are free. There are thousands of them and it is easy to find them. Search on “free”.
Beyond that, you should also check out the great tools from Sysinternals which used to be a separate site, but Microsoft bought. The tools are still up to date, but are more geared towards geeks.
FREE SOFTWARE DOWNLOADS FOR WINDOWS, ARE THERE STILL GOOD SOFTWARE SITES?
There are some other good safe free software sites, but if you can’t find what you need on the sites above, they won’t help you much. Over time, you will find that the sites you like have the software you need.
Remember to always check the downloaded file with the antivirus app or via Virus Total. If possible, test installing the program in a virtual machine or sandbox environment.