Sites like Cnet's Download.com or Sourceforge began to implement wrappers on their services some time ago with the sole purpose of earning extra revenue from software downloads.
These wrappers are similar to installers that contain the adware right away, and the only difference to them is that the wrapper's only purpose is to display offers to the user.
When a user accepts an offer, or misses the decline or skip button, a third-party program is installed on the computer system and the site who maintains the wrapper gets paid for that.
Techniques like making it difficult to distinguish between the real program and the offer or setting the offer to accept so that it gets installed when the user clicks next and oversees the offer are implemented to increase revenue further.
Most sites offer options to download the clean installer or program instead of the wrapper program. On Sourceforge for example, all you need to do is add ?nowrap to the address to download the clean installer of the program.
Here are two of examples on popular sites
As you can see, the wrapper link is displayed prominently on the download page while the direct download link is barely visible.
While you can get the direct download on most sites, some users who download often from a particular site or sites may want to automate the process.
The userscript Fake-Download Bypasser does that for the sites Sourceforge and Afterdawn. It has been designed for Download.com as well but that does not seem to work at the time of writing.
Once installed in the browser of choice, it will activate the correct download on the site even if you click on the wrong download button.
To install it in Firefox, you need to install the Greasemonkey add-on or compatible extensions before you can install the script directly in the browser. Once done, it works out of the box.
Chrome users on the other hand cannot install the userscript directly. It will download instead and when it does, needs to be dragged to the chrome://extensions/ page to display the installation prompt and add it to the browser.
The userscript Adware Atomizer offers a second option. It supports way more sites than Fake-Download Bypasser but has the same issue on Download.com than the other. Installation instructions are provided on the project page. The only difference is that Chrome users need to install the Tampermonkey extension before the script can be installed.
The scripts work well on some of the sites but not on all of them. The core reason here is that they have not been updated since last year and that some of the sites must have changed how downloads are delivered.
Still, it is worth a shot if you download from at least one of the working sites regularly.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.