CNET NoBadware, Bypasses Cnet Installer Downloads

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 16, 2012
Updated • Mar 31, 2014
Firefox, Google Chrome, userscripts

Update: The author has retired the script as CNET has added direct download links to all download pages on its website. To use them, you need to click on the "Direct Download Link" displayed underneath the larger green Download Now button. If there is no direct download link, it means that the green download button itself links to the full download without the wrapper.

We were one of the first sites to report that was replacing direct download links on their site with downloads pointing to a Cnet software Installer. This installer, according to Cnet, has been designed to deliver the requested downloads more securely to the client's computer.

The installer at the same time is used to push third party software programs, which many would call adware, to the computers of unsuspecting users. To make matters worse, users had to opt-out of the installation of toolbars and other software that more often than not changed the user's homepage and search engine among other things.

The web installer caused other issues as well. Users who wanted to install the program on a system without permanent Internet connection ran into troubles as the Cnet installer required a web connection to deliver the program to the user PC.


Cnet has been criticized heavily for this practice, and some software developers as a consequence have pulled their applications from the site. Others requested to remove the web installer from the program's distribution channel. Cnet as well seems to have removed the installer from some applications.

CNET - NoBadware: Direct Download Links is a userscript that skips Cnet's web downloader when downloading files from the download portal. It automatically replaces all links pointing to Cnet's secure downloader with direct software links, even for users who are not logged in or registered at the site.

The script indicates the change on the site by adding a small notification below the Download Now link on each program's download page.

bypass cnet installer

This way it is immediately clear if the download button points to the Cnet installer or the original file that was requested by the user. A click on the button opens the "your download will begin in a moment page" where the originally file is then offered for download.

The userscript has been tested in Firefox and Google Chrome, and it worked in both browsers exactly as advertised. Firefox users need to install Greasemonkey or Scriptish before they can install the userscript in their browser. The userscript may work in other browsers as well.

All in all an excellent script for users who sometimes download software from and prefer direct downloads.


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  1. X. said on February 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I just started downloading from Filehippo or Majorgeeks instead

  2. firefoxlover said on February 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Haven’t downloaded from CNet for years. It’s either Majorgeeks or the author’s website.

  3. miw said on February 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    No more downloads from CNet, 2 times their installer,2 times problems.
    and their update- checker is terrible!

  4. Sid said on February 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I have shifted to quite some time back & I have had no cause for regret.
    It even helps me to keep my software up-to-date at all times!

  5. kalmly said on February 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    From love to loathing in a few years. I’m through with CNet.

    What’s wrong with those people? Everybody is mad at them. Developers are removing their applications. Users are deserting their site. Yet they continue down the same destructive path. Death wish?

    They are good for a couple of things: MajorGeeks and File Hippo.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      I’d say they get enough users thanks to preferential treatment from the major search engines.

  6. Roy said on February 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Maybe just my eyes but I can’t see a download link to the script itself? I assume it’s this one –

    I’d still prefer to use Filehippo or d/l direct from developer where possible though – Cnet lost all credibility in my book

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      I agree, and have blocked them from appearing in my search results. You find the link near the end.

  7. kaas said on February 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I don’t use cnet anymore, I only download from author sites, stuff cnet.

  8. Frank said on February 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    File Hippo is my #1 choice. First time I saw Cnets installer I quickly abandoned the site. Have ZERO use for that crap

  9. hg said on February 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Stopped using CNet for downloads after the first time it happened. There is always an alternative!

  10. Robert Palmar said on February 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    CNet was acquired by CBS Interactive in 2008.
    Explaining why it is actually not what it once was.

  11. DanTe said on February 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve stopped using Cnet years and years ago when they started posting out right lies in their “independent” articles. Never trust a liar.

  12. Joey said on February 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Cool info Martin. Last year I switched to Major Geeks because of the added crapware to’s linked files. Now I can DL from that site again in cause the file is not available on mg.

  13. GiddyUpGo said on February 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I blocked Cnet a long time ago with my HOSTS file, my antivirus programs and under my browsers. I will not allow Cnet to access my computer. Who needs their hassle when there are many download sites that treat you right!

  14. hipockets said on February 17, 2012 at 7:35 am

    The sneaky devils at CNet try to fool you into accepting adware by making you decline in different ways. For example, to decline a tool bar you have to check a box, a search engine by clicking on a button, and a program by clicking on a link.

    Stupid people!

    Now I try not to go there. I mainly use Softpedia and MajorGeeks if I cannot get to the developer’s site.

    I apologize if this is a duplicate post. I subscribed to the follow ups to this topic, and then my first post disappeared

  15. Dougle said on February 17, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I really have no idea why anyone would want to download anything from CNET.

    For those interested, there’s a user script that allows blocking of domains, from Google search, directly – assuming you still use Google, I don’t 99% of the time – but it’s still useful to get rid of the trash.

  16. techtt said on February 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Nice i was looking for.

  17. cezi said on February 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I also stay with filehippo & majorgeeks – but softpedia has much more programs and gives changelogs to them —

    but after enhancing peerblock –downloads via “us softpedia secure download ” are blocked becouse which
    is also busted on =red 1 point

    but others in see no harm in it = 1/26

    whom to believe …

  18. Saqib said on February 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve got a better alternative. Why not download from filehippo ? Or from some other site and dump this cnet download site.

  19. Gil Tyrelle said on February 18, 2012 at 6:20 am

    Has anyone else noticed that when you go to the CNET website it sometimes crashes your Nvidia monitor display?

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