The major criteria for a good freeware download site is accuracy and safety.
- Reliable sites don’t require you to install adware to install a program.
They don’t bundle another developer’s freeware into their own adware wrapper. There are other, better ways to monetize your site than to take advantage of and exploit developers and/or your visitors’ trust. Don’t use download sites run by people with no integrity.
- Reliable sites investigate and remove malware from their listings, when it is reported to them.
They will also ban a developer if there are too many malware complaints about multiple apps. Don’t use download sites that don’t care if their listings are known to cause harm.
- Reliable sites describe programs accurately, including if a program is an adware, trial, or demo version.
They don’t need to lie about the applications they list, just to make it seem as if they have more freeware to offer, or perhaps to make people think they have an exclusive, special free version of something people normally would have to pay for, except it’s the same demo or shareware you can download from just about anywhere else. Don’t use download sites run by liars.
The following sites are considered reliable, at least at the time they were added to this list, and offer freeware downloads and/or reviews for a wide range of different types of applications.
If a site on this list violates one of the above rules, please let us know by leaving a comment, below. We’ll investigate it and remove the site from this list, if necessary.
And of course, if I have missed any sites that you feel should be on this list, please leave a comment and let me know.
FOSSHUB is the home to a wide assortment of free open source software projects, in which the developers are dedicated to providing clean downloads, free from adware, spyware, malware, or unwanted software bundles, with a minimal amount of advertising on their pages.
Freeware Home has provided reliable listings of freeware for the last 22 years. In most cases, they link directly to the developer’s website, and will provide a warning in the application description if it is known to come bundled with any crapware in the installer. If you report an application as containing an undisclosed crapware installer, they will remove the application from their site, pending further investigation.
This is a community driven site run by a team of dedicated volunteers, that scour the web looking for the best freeware in just about every category imaginable. You’ll also find a lot of good software reviews and active discussions. They cover Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS software, as well as web apps.
Major Geeks has had the reputation for almost 20 years, of providing good clean downloads of great software applications, sometimes even long after an application disappears from other download sites. They will frequently host the last known freeware version of something that went shareware, or the last known version of a freeware application that was abandoned by its developer(s).
Ninite is one of the best ways to safely download and install a whole lot of good, free applications at once, and is a MUST VISIT for any new PC owner. You just check the boxes for everything you want, then download a custom installer that contains only the things you picked, without any added crapware. The apps they offer are sometimes even cleaner than downloading them direct from the developers, and is a great way to avoid some of the crapware that normally comes bundled with some of the software they list. (I’m looking at you, Java!)
Snap Files has built a reputation of only listing good clean downloads, free of spyware, malware, popups, home page hijackers, and other harmful stuff. However, you may find some software bundled with browser toolbars, so please be cautious when installing, and opt out if you don’t want any. They offer both shareware and freeware, but the link provided above goes directly to their freeware section.