It’s safer to use an alternative.
I recommend you avoid all download sites if at all possible. There are simply too many stories like yours: downloads that come with more than is expected.
I do, however, have two exceptions.
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Using download sites
While there may be good/safe download sites, you’ll always be safer by downloading software directly from the manufacturer’s website or at their direction. If you must use a download from elsewhere, take extra caution to ensure it’s not been “augmented” with malware.
A good download site is hard to find
There are good download sites; I just can’t tell you which ones they are.
And to be clear, the download sites themselves aren’t always the problem. Often, the malware comes in the software you’re downloading. Still, all too often, through download managers, download accelerators, or even direct downloads from these sites, people get more than they bargained for in the form of malware.
Downloads from download sites are notorious for including malware.
My recommendation: always, and I really do mean always, download from the original manufacturer’s website. You might need to do a little research to locate that site, but it pays off when you end up avoiding malware or foistware or who-knows-what-ware.
Exception #1: Use a download site when explicitly told to
There’s an odd scenario that we need to mention: some vendors choose to have their download hosted at a download site. You’ll know that’s the case if you’re directed to the download site from the official product website.
Macrium used to do this with their free version of Reflect.
But the most important point: always start at the manufacturer’s site.
Just because you happen to find the product on a download site doesn’t mean it’s the same or the official product. Only go to the download site via the link provided by the software manufacturer.
Exception #2: Old software
Unfortunately, the software in question is a perfect example: the free version of Macrium Reflect.
It’s no longer available from the manufacturer’s site. Your only recourse is a third-party download site of some sort.
Be careful. Those with malicious intent could realize that the software is not available anywhere else, and thus be more motivated to upload versions including malware. Make certain to scan your download immediately.
Ideally, if the software’s no longer available officially, I’d recommend taking that as a sign that you should move on to something else. I realize that’s not always an option, but it is the safer approach.
Download directly from the software manufacturer, or from where they point you, if at all possible.
If that’s not possible, perhaps consider whether you really need that download at all. If you do, take extra care.
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