While download portals, sites that list and offer software downloads, have lost some appeal over the years, they are still highly popular on today's Internet.
Sites like Download.com, Softpedia, Softonic or Majorgeeks are popular and used by millions of users each day despite the fact that many became less user-friendly over the years.
I have visited many download sites over the years and found them useful services: they list new and updated software, and may provide downloads even if the developer site is no longer around or unavailable.
While they have their uses, many have changed over the years to introduce features that are not user-friendly.
The following list is my personal view on the state of download portals. I have to admit that there are still some gems -- like Majorgeeks or Freewarefiles -- around that I value highly, but those are far and few between.
1. Adware installers
The download sites that implement adware installers don't call them that for obvious reasons.
Instead, they advertise the download as "secure", "safe" or "more reliable" because of the wrapper they are offering to users.
The practice started to spread years ago when Cnet's Download.com started to offer downloads offered on the site with its own download wrapper that served third-party offers to users.
While it is understandable that these sites need money to pay employees and the running costs, doing so at the expense of their users is a shortsighted way of doing business.
Ad-blocking extensions like uBlock are blocking many of the popular download sites that distributed adware currently.
2. No reference link to the developer
Some sites try to keep users in their ecosystem from start to finish. This means that they don't provide reference links at all that point to other Internet sites or the developer's site.
I understand that this is not always possible, for instance if there is no developer site or if one could not find it after research, but refusing to link to developers is one of the worst habits of download sites that I have come across.
It means that I have to find the developer site on my own if I want to find out more about the program or the company behind it.
Some sites seem to hide these links as best as they can instead of not listing them at all. Softpedia for instance does not list links to the developer site on the software's profile page. To get there, you need to know that you have to click on the specifications tab on the page, and there on the developer name.
This leads to a list of programs by the developer on Softpedia where you need to click on the developer name again to get to the external website. The name is not highlighted in any way to reflect that it links to the developer's site.
In fact, one could argue that it is disguised and not easily detectable.
3. Bogus, copied or incomplete reviews
Keeping track of thousands of software updates and releases each week requires a large team, or a narrower focus to cope with the immense number of releases.
Sites try to add value by reviewing software programs but those often leave a lot to be desired. Some download sites may simply copy the developer's description which is not impartial for obvious reason, while others may publish reviews that are short, incomplete or lacking when it comes to the information they provide.
The IOBit Malware Fighter page on Download.com offers no information besides the developer's own description and release notes. There are user reviews and ratings, and lots of ads on the page but that is about it. I can visit the developer's site directly and will get the same information.
Others may simply rewrite the developer's description without adding any value to the review which is equally bad.
4. No What's New listing
I like to browse the what's new sections of download sites as I may discover a new program, app or browser extension that I find interesting enough to take a closer look at to maybe review it here on Ghacks Technology News.
Google, and Microsoft as well, removed options from their web stores to browse new or updated browser extensions or applications.
Both offered the feature previously but decided to remove it with updates. That's actually one of the main reasons why you don't see that many Chrome extension reviews here on Ghacks as Google's handpicked selection of extensions does not change often and is severely lacking because of it when it comes to discovering new apps or extensions.
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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.