Tucows declares end of deceptive ads

Martin Brinkmann
May 7, 2016
Updated • May 8, 2016

Remember Tucows? The download part of the site was very popular in the last millennium as a destination for freeware and shareware.

It fell from grace like many other services of its time as other services became more popular. Nowadays, Tucows is still around but not as popular as download portals such as Softpedia, Cnet Download or even Freewarefiles.

The company started to explore other business opportunities and began to offer domain, email and mobile phone services which make up the bulk of Tucow's revenue today.

The Tucows download portal is still maintained though and while it is not that popular anymore, it is still visited by thousands of users each day.

Tucows Downloads

Tucows announced on May 3, 2016 that it will stop displaying deceptive or misleading advertisement on the company's download site.

The company is surprisingly honest about past advertisement even though it puts it into a greater context by mentioning that other software download sites did the same thing.

But then. Then, things got ugly. Then came the dark days where software download sites needed to wring every possible cent out of their wares. Even Tucows downloads, the seminal software download site, was not immune.

Those days made finding a download button in among the various masquerading ads more like tiptoeing through a minefield. Downloading software became a high stakes mission: Double check the pop-up blocker to ensure it’s working. Fire up AdBlock. Deep breath. Swoop in, grab the software in question and run. Oh yeah, and be exceedingly careful what you agree to in the installation process of said software.

It mentions deceptive or misleading ads on the site itself but also that the software installation itself posed additional dangers for users.

While advertisement won't be a thing of the past, Tucows notes that users won't find flashing ads on the site nor toolbars or pop-ups. What may be displayed instead are plugs for other Tucows services.

Tucows is not the first and probably not the last download service to announce a change in this regard, and much of it may come down to Google announcing that the company's Safe Browsing service -- part of Chrome, Firefox and other browsers -- would flag sites with deceptive download buttons to warn users about them.

Regardless of that, it is a good move by Tucows that should benefit visitors of the site even if they don't use ad blockers.

It is probably too late though for the site to become popular once again considering that there are plenty of alternatives out there that are already more popular and don't use deceptive ads as well.

Now You: Where do you download your software from?

Tucows declares end of deceptive ads
Article Name
Tucows declares end of deceptive ads
Long standing Internet company Tucows announced that the advertisement on its download portal won't be annoying or deceptive anymore.
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  1. Paul(us) said on May 11, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I am still quit found of the download software websites:
    And or:

    And website’s who are doing there utmost to stay on main good site are:

  2. S2015 said on May 9, 2016 at 4:45 am

    (It was) Worse still, their downloads were adware/downware powered installers due to the term Cost Per Install (CPI). Examples? This one@ https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/33c2ef66ccad14790d554ce208d9115f68dbd9eb5a3ac48857142a7cc3db9ad6/analysis/1418546484/ Image? Here it is@ http://postimg.org/image/8sktiil1d/ Tucows had a deal with DownloadAdmin! What’s DownloadAdmin?! Read https://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2015-040613-1142-99

    Needless to mention, d risk of using Brothersoft: its official site was flagged as Malicious site by AutoShun@ https://www.virustotal.com/en/url/3c1c93b928e39d232a8b1ee85699bbc459cb602cd21b851a45c3b336a1adcfb1/analysis/1414280167/ ; it too contained malicious advertisements. See this sample@ update-for-pc-1024[DOT]com/?dist_id=365&channel=ac_h1gv&v=icrs&c=e7982022e2acb355c97cb18725d4df5e&cid=18160173701414279281&pubid=298097&v_id=87a51bb02a410dc4856b2d260674b97b I just clicked that page… then I got this downware@ https://www.virustotal.com/en/file/06edf8440aadabecd33c4b3535ab8a88805ab72b857e400aba75b3fde2412694/analysis/1414282696/
    Just visit that risky site (using a USA IP), and take a closer look: http://postimg.org/image/5zvsge5mp/ (this is another pop-up I just got!)

    For more downware study, you guys can read this post@ https://removeunwantedprograms.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/uninstall-megabackup-for-macwindows/

    @Martin: Please review those recommended freeware, shareware, sites and/or other computer programs on your blog, time to time…

    Take care…

  3. Lurking Again said on May 8, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Linux user and I get all my software from the Arch/Antegos repositories including AUR. Much easier that way.

  4. Marius said on May 8, 2016 at 2:57 am

    Softpedia, and sometimes SourceForge. I had a bad experience with Softonic during my vacation a few years back.

  5. Doc said on May 8, 2016 at 12:35 am

    “It feel from grace…” I think you meant “fell,” Martin. :)

  6. Adam said on May 8, 2016 at 12:26 am

    I use FOSSHUB got this policy from the start by not allowing the deceptive ads and really like the collection of software, not a single ***** software. In the early days I used Soft32 (until they included their own installer), Sourceforge (years of deceptive ads and bundles), FileHippo (testing junkware and still listing bundled software) and Tucows. The problem with all these download sites is the numerous ads they list. Unless you use an ad-blocker their pages look ugly. The deceptive ads is a bonus and the best example is Tucows. It will bring money 1,2,3…10 years but in the end, the visitor will look further and never return. Karma is a …..

  7. Snapfiles said on May 7, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Snapfiles. I look at a program, I like it. One click and I look at other programs by the same author. Then I go to AUTHOR’S SITE with another click. No strains on my fingers, good reviews, good comments. Clean. I absolutely like that place (Free // Shareware are 2 different indexes).

  8. A different Martin said on May 7, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Wow, I hadn’t thought of Tucows for a long time. For a while — back in the 90s or 00s? — it was my first stop for finding and downloading new software. I don’t even remember when I stopped going there, or why.

    For a while after that, I learned about a lot of utilities via Shell Extension City (and I think I downloaded them from there), but I believe the site went into hiatus for a time and when it came back it was much less frequently updated.

    I don’t try out that much new software nowadays,* and when I do, I just do a Web search for programs with the functionalities I need, search for multiple reviews of potential candidates, and try to download my final choices from the developer’s site when possible.

    Otherwise, I don’t think I’ve ever felt abused by FossHub, MajorGeeks, or (I’m not 100% sure of this) SoftPedia. I used FileHippo for a short time but stopped the instant I read that they were experimenting with adware or bundleware in their installers. I don’t like CNET, if only because it was too much work to find the particular version of a program you’re looking for and then find a reasonably clean download link for it. (I began avoiding CNET long enough ago that I no longer remember if there were any other gotchas.)

    By the way, bonus points to every site that provides checksums for its downloadable files.

    *Tip o’ the hat to Martin: Sometimes, I’ll see something on Ghacks that looks worth trying out.

  9. AAA said on May 7, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    I always stayed away from Two Cows.

  10. Phylis Sophical said on May 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I Used FileHippo until they started including junkware in their installation files. Too bad, so sad. They had such a great layout with easy to find older versions. Now, it’s the developers site.

  11. RottenScoundrel said on May 7, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    The have been turds long before this. Many, many years back I submitted an email client program for inclusion in their lists. Their email-system specialist “reviewed” it and I got an “F”. No way to ask why, no way to find out what they thought I should do differently to make it acceptable. I finally got the name of their email system specialist and what software did he produce and list on their site? Hmmm, only an email client and surprise- surprise, not long after his latest revision included features from my email client. {sigh}

    Have not visited their site this century! LOL

  12. Croatoan said on May 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    PortableApps, Ninite, MajorGeeks and developer site.

  13. moe said on May 7, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Sourceforge? They went to the dark side. oz & jm have the right idea: if you’re motivated enough to download the software, go to the developers/official site to get it.

    1. All Things Firefox said on May 7, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      It is best to go to the developer’s site, but Sourceforge no longer bundles adware. Also, in many cases, the developer hosts the download on Sourceforge.

  14. Sean said on May 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Tucows is a 100 million dollar publicly traded company, so yeah, still very much alive.

  15. oz said on May 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for the article, Martin!

    It’s clear these days that many websites have chosen deception as their business model, although they prefer to think of it as “marketing”, and they clearly believe their trickery should be totally acceptable. For some users, that behavior may be acceptable, but for me it is not, so I never hesitate to navigate away from such websites, never to return.

    That said, I try to get all my downloads directly from the author when possible, but even then only when there is no deception or trickery involved. Otherwise, I search for download websites that are known not to use such tactics to snare unaware victims. Regardless of where a download comes from, I’m careful to check it out carefully with security tools before opening or installing it.

  16. zinoeke said on May 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Sorry Tucows, you had your chance and you blew it.

  17. someone said on May 7, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    What?!!! I thought Tucows was dead and gone a long time ago…

    I see no reason to use anything other than developer’s official site, Github, Sourceforge, or something like FOSShub.

    1. Mike J. said on May 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      I love freeware, but had totally forgotten Tucows ever existed,

  18. raj said on May 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I love softpedia and hate cnet

  19. Howard Pearce said on May 7, 2016 at 10:55 am

    For major software and most up-to-date software, I’ve come to rely on MajorGeeks.

    For a wider range including more minor software, I use Softpedia and FileHippo

  20. Curtis said on May 7, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I will answer your question: official site of the software.

    1. Henk van Setten said on May 7, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Right! I certainly use sites such as Freewarefiles to alert me when something interesting has come out, but I don’t download software from this kind of intermediate repositories. In most cases it takes just a couple of extra clicks to get to the original developer’s site and download directly from the source. Sometimes this is safer. And in the case of unknown software, a look at the developer’s site can also yield more information – or even help to discern useful utitilties from obvious crap.

  21. jmjsquared said on May 7, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Their mea culpa sounds like that of the corrupt politicians and business people who, just before their sentencing for crimes committed, say how ashamed, sorry and contrite they now are for their conscious actions before. I call bs on the lot.

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