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by Ray Carlson

Q. In your columns, you recommend downloading various free software programs. When I download such programs, I end up with extras I do not want. How do I avoid these extras?

A. CNET's is the most popular website for downloads. That site avoids malicious software but has started to bundle less popular programs with more popular ones to collect fees from some software developers. The four precautions below are based on that site's practices, but other sites that download free software or upgrades are increasingly following similar steps.

First, when you select a program to download, a webpage will appear with descriptions of that software and advertisements for two or three other programs. At least one of these others will be at the top of the page. Next to the description of these other programs is a box saying "Start Download." In the part of the page describing the program you want is a box saying "Download Now." When you look quickly at the page, it is natural to click the "Start Download" that is closest to the top or most prominent, but make sure and select the "Download Now" next to the description of the program you want.

Second, there may be a separate smaller line somewhere below the "Download Now" box saying "Direct Download Link." If so, select that "Direct" choice.

Third, if you are not offered that second line, the "CNET Installer" will open. That Installer will offer the choice between "Express" or "Custom" setup. Select "Custom" and a list of the different programs it intends to install will appear. Next to each will be a checkmark or a word like "decline." Click the checkmark to turn that program off or click "decline" for each program other than the one you want and then continue.

Fourth, you may be shown a series of pages asking if you accept the End User License Agreement for each program. For the ones you do not want, click decline.

Published: Courier 11/17/13 - Page 3C