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How big download portals earn money with your software

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How big download portals earn money with your software



How big download portals earn money with your software

Posted on .

I offer a free tool for download on my homepage called “Get My Keys Back” – which helps you recovering your Windows or Office CD Key. I get lots of offers for bundling it with some installers for some $$ for every download.

Since these Installers are pure evil I never signed up for this but now I was curious to see if there are also websites which don’t ask for my permission and bundle it with their installer.

I went to Google.

First thing I noticed was that my own homepage was on the third place in the results overview – I just suck at SEO, I guess. But then I started looking a little bit closer at the other results – and that came really as a surprise to me.

Crapware everywhere

All the hits on the first page (except my own) repacked my software in a crapware installer which will install lots of crapware software on your computer – and by lots I mean tons – and by tons I mean… well, you get it.

Oh look there’s even an ad for my tool.

Google Ad

There is Softsonic for example. They even wrote some kind of short review of my tool, listed a few pros and cons (which are correct by the way) and offer to download my tool with a shiny green button on the bottom of the page:


Wheeey – my software is virus free – that’s great let’s download it. But when you click this stylish green download button this is what you’ll get:


Yes – you’ll get an even BIGGER green download button, because bigger is always better right? But if you click this giant button you will get a crapware installer which will install really annoying software on your computer (more on that soon).

If you look really close on the bottom of the screenshot (red box) you will see a link to my homepage. I guess 99% of the visitors won’t even see that there’s text on that page besides that really big green button.

gmkb_softsonic_3By the way, have you ever noticed the slogan of softsonic? Its “enjoy software!” – I’m not lying, here is a screenshot. They really mean it!

Well, maybe I’m just out of luck here – let’s try a different google hit – winportal:


Different provider – same system, you get a small review and a big shiny green download button. Ok, let’s click it:


Wow – what a surprise, another BIGGER green download button – I did not see that coming! At least they tell you that you’re downloading some sort of download manager. And similar to softsonic they offer a link to the website of the author (red box) – but when you click it you’ll just be redirected to the main page of winportal – so our choices as a user are really limited here.

What’s their slogan you ask? It’s “Secure and free Software”, of course! (translated from german)

Ok, ok let’s try a last one –


Wait, what? Shareware? Limited features? I SHOULD PURCHASE IT? Seriously? OMG!

Hey look, they say “All downloads are original and not repacked or modified in any way by us.” – that’s a good sign right? Well, they just lie here as they do in the title…

When you click the Download link (wait, where’s that shiny green download button? I’m getting suspicious…) you will get another crapware installer – nice!

Well – at least they don’t have a crappy slogan…

The installers

So maybe you ask yourself “are those download managers really THAT bad?” – no, they are even worse! Let’s have a look at the download manager offered by phpnuke:

After you start the installer everything looks normal so far:


Let’s click next (green button) and see what happens.


What the heck is “My Search Dial” and why do they want to f**k up all my browsing settings? Oh, you wouldn’t actually see this site if I wouldn’t clicked “custom installation” (Erweitert in german). As you may expect the “normal” user would just click through this window and accept the crapware installation. Ok, let’s see what happens next.


Hmmmm, Step 2 of 4 again? Strange… and now they’re even mixing languages – not a good sign. Now they’re trying to install “Sweet Page” on my computer  and I have to click on “disagree” (gray button) if I don’t want that – but again, the “normal” user would just click “accept” (green button) to finish this installer as quickly as possible. Ok, next step.


SO here we are again – Step 2 of 4 AGAIN! The same pattern as in the previous “Step”.


Maan that is one big Step… 2 of 4 for the third time and also the same pattern – just a differend crapware tool…


Seriously? Step 2 of 4 AGAIN? Another crapware tool that will mess up my computer… I wonder how many there are to come…


Oh, finally Step 3 of 4. The tool we actually wanted to install is being downloaded now. Including some ads, of course!


Step 4 of 4 – we made it! Wait, what? No we didn’t – the actual installation begins NOW! (green button says “install now”) – what have I been doing the whole time? Fine, install now… I just want my keys…


What the…? Seems like the software this installer is trying to run is not compatible with windows 64bit… So I ran this whole installer, possibly installed lots of crapware which will slow down my computer and the actual tool I wanted to use the whole time isn’t working? – WOW!

(By the way: my original tool is (of course) compatible with all windows versions back to Windows 2000)

By the way: have you noticed, that you never had a button for going back in the installer? So if you by mistake clicked “accept” on one of those crapware tools you can’t just go back and “disagree” on that! – Very clever!


So if you have parents or relatives which always complain about their slow Windows computer because it’s getting slower and slower each day – I guarantee you, you’ll find at least 20 of those crap programs sitting in the system start options.

So back to me – I guess it’s partly my fault, because I don’t have a license which forbids bundling my tool with these crappy installers. Maybe some of you had similar experiences and have some tips for me. I’m willing to learn J


Sebastian Gross

Sebastian Gross arbeitet in Bielefeld als Softwareentwickler für .NET und Java im Bereich Web.Als Fan der .NET-Plattform lässt er sich kein Userguppen Treffen und Community Event im Raum OWL entgehen.Dabei hat er eine besondere Vorliebe für das ASP.NET MVC Framework und für das Test Driven Development (TDD) entwickelt.

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