This type of file can harm your computer warning in Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 26, 2015
Updated • Feb 26, 2015

Google announced recently that it made the decision to improve protection against unwanted software downloads in the Chrome browser and Google search.

The company did not reveal which sites would be affected by this and it was unclear if major download sites such as Sourceforge, or Softonic would get a pass or not.

Update: The messages don't show up in Chrome Stable yet.

Update 2: It appears that Chrome warns before downloading any executable file regardless of origin. It even displays a warning when you try to download Google Chrome from Google.

Google Chrome users who download files on many download sites as of today are starting to get warning messages for any file offered on those sites.

It is interesting to note that this seems to apply to all file downloads on those websites even those that are delivered directly and not wrapped in adware installers, and that it even affects some portals that don't use wrappers at all.

The message displayed in Chrome is always the same: This type of file can harm your computer.  Do you want to keep "filename" anyway?

The options that Chrome provides are to keep the file which saves it to the local hard drive or discard the file instead which removes it again.

As mentioned in a previous article, Chrome downloads these files completely to the system even before you make a decision but displays unconfirmed downloads as Unconfirmed xxxxxx.crdownload files on the system until you make a decision.

Only Chrome displays the warning message. Neither Chromium nor Firefox, which uses Google's Safe Browsing database as well, display it at the time.

Google is doing the right thing in my opinion even though it may not be enough, as the warning is not highlighting why that program is potentially dangerous. A better explanation, maybe even with a link to a help page offering further information would be welcome.

One side-effect of displaying the warning for all program downloads, even direct ones that don't contain wrappers, is that people may associate "bad" with the company developing the software and not with the download portal.

This too could be resolved by improving the algorithm and information displayed on the screen to make it clear that the download site is the offender and not necessarily the company that developed the program.

So which sites are affected by the message? Sites that are known to wrap downloads in advertisement packages such as Sourceforge,, Filehippo and Softonic are but it may come as a surprise that other download sites such as Softpedia which don't wrap downloads in adware installers are also affected by this.

So, here is my problem with that.

First of all, the message should only be displayed if software is offered in wrappers or if software itself contains adware offers.

The system right now does not seem to make a distinction between any of that. If you download Firefox from Softpedia you get a message that the file could harm your computer even though the download and installer are clean.

That's bad for Softpedia, Mozilla and maybe also the user who may decide not to download the program even though it would not do any harm.

Unless I missed that Softpedia started to use ad-wrappers as well, it is unclear why warnings are displayed on the site.


Google needs to fine tune the feature. First, it should not display the warning for files that are offered directly unless they include adware.

I think that this can be easily done by analyzing file names of said wrappers on sites that use them.

Second, it should make it clearer that the program itself is not the culprit here but the download portal. It paints a negative image on the developer, Mozilla for instance, if Firefox is flagged as a file that can harm your computer.

Third, it should really do something about the exposure of these download portals in its search engine as this is where the majority of traffic comes from.

Now You: What's your take on this?

This type of file can harm your computer warning in Chrome
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This type of file can harm your computer warning in Chrome
Google displays file download warnings on major download sites in its Chrome browser.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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