Getting programs directly from the Web
Every computer requires software to run – it is basically the brains of the computer. These days, most computers come with all of the required operating software as well as a basic package for surfing the Internet, sending and receiving emails, and creating documents and spreadsheets. However, most people require at least one additional application to meet their computing needs.
When it comes to adding programs to your computer, you have two choices: you can buy a package and upload the software from CD, or you can download software directly from the Internet.
Computer software downloads may be available from the manufacturer's website or from a software download site, which offers a variety of downloadable software. If you know you need the software and will use all of its features, you will need to find full software downloads. Often, these come directly from the manufacturer's site and require purchasing the software online.
If, however, you simply want to try a particular program before you buy it, check out demo software downloads. Software demos are pared-down versions of applications that are usually offered free of charge or for a nominal fee. Generally, these programs are designed to demonstrate the main features of the software without offering full functionality. If you want a complete version, you'll have to upgrade to a full version, usually at full price.
Some sites offer free software downloads. Be wary of such "deals" – often, this software can harbor adware or harmful computer viruses. Also, these software downloads are usually not complete versions of the application, so make sure you know what it is you're getting.
The key to downloading software safely is really quite simple: only download from reputable, reliable sites, read the installation instructions carefully and make sure the software download is compatible with your operating system. And don't forget to back up your system beforehand in case an error occurs.
Never download from emails unless you are sure the source can be trusted (remember, some viruses can make a message appear to be from one of your contacts, so extra caution is warranted), and never violate licensing or copyright restrictions.
Finally, be wary of claims about the "top software download" and other ratings systems, such as stars. A British developer wrote a program blatantly named "awardmestars" with a clear description reading "This program does nothing at all" and still managed to get decent star ratings and even win awards on several software review sites. Research a site thoroughly before you download from it or even trust its information. Find out how ratings are awarded and what kind of review processes the software undergoes. Most reputable sites will include such information on the site.
Downloading is the fastest, easiest and perhaps cheapest way to obtain software for your computer. Many software companies now let you buy and download software right off their sites. Other sites offer a variety of software from several different companies for download. There are all kinds of programs, games and other applications available, usually with rave reviews and high ratings to bolster them, but the best software downloads are those that you actually use. If you download only what you need and only from well-researched, reliable sources, then downloading can truly save you time, money and effort.