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Caution Downloading

There are a lot of free open source programs on the Internet that are very helpful. However, should you decide to download one of these programs wanted to pass along a word of caution.

Had a neighbor call yesterday needing help. He was looking for a free zip program, specifically 7Zip which in itself is a very good program. However, after going through the process, he was stunned to find not only had his homepage changed but also all of his tool bars. So what was the problem downloading this trusted open source program? Answer:  He had downloaded from a secondary site (www.7zip.gotcha.org) named to look like the real thing – but isn’t – rather than  from the official site (www.7zip.org).

While the ‘gotcha’ site did offer the open source program, they had embedded all manner of ad-ware and system changes into the download in an effort to force my unsuspecting neighbor to use their advertising home page, tool bars, etc… which if left, would result in the ‘gotcha’ site earning commissions. Not nice.

Step 1

To get his computer back to normal, I needed to first uninstall the 7Zip program itself. However, this did not get rid of the homepage nor the unwanted tool bars. Neither one of which could be changed through the normal method of using Tools > > > Internet Options.

Step 2

To get rid of the home page and tool bars, I had to locate the program folders in the C Drive where the files had been installed during the download, and uninstall the folders themselves.

The first folder I uninstalled, returned his computer to his preferred homepage.

Step 3

To get rid of the unwanted tool bars, I had to go into ‘All Programs’ and do a search for the tool bar address* – then delete the folder. Did a refresh (F5) and his homepage returned to normal.

* If you need to find the name of the unwanted tool bar, right click on it and view the ‘properties’.

Conclusion

Bottom line, don’t assume the first search result you see is the primary site and the one you are looking for. Take a few minutes to check the URL of the site.

  • Do they state who they are and their purpose?
  • Is it an org?  (Most open source programs are .org)
  • Is there more to the name than just the program name?
  • Am I redirected to another site?

Another good clue to watch for is if you don’t see the registered program or company logo – chances are you or a secondary site.  While most scammers who do co-opt these programs to fill with ad-ware will use their own logo – not the real one.  Using the registered logo may get them flagged for copyright infringement.

Final thought:  If you cannot find the files associated with the download, perform an advanced search on your computer targeting the date you downloaded the program.  This should help you identify the file and its location.


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