There is rarely anything that is really “free” in this world, especially when it comes to software. Most free software comes with some type of cost. This cost may not be monetary, but may impact your computer and/or its performance. When installing software, the best advice I can give is to slow down, read every screen and option and understand everything before you click that “Next” or “Install” button. One very good example I can provide is installing the free version of AVG Anti-Virus software. AVG is one of the most popular freely available anti-virus software packages available for non-commercial use. In fact, it is what I use on my personal computers, including my wife and children’s computers. The dangers come two-fold: First, when you are installing the software and second, when the software periodically upgrades.
When installing the free version of AVG anti-virus it defaults to installing the 30-day free trial of the complete paid version and you have to actually select the free version. In fact, you are also presented with the choice of “Standard Installation” or something to that effect. If you do not select “Custom installation” you do not even see the option to de-select the installation of things like the AVG Search Toolbar, the changing of your default Home Page and other items. Not only does this have potential performance impacts on your computer, it can have an impact on how you use it, often confusing some consumers who may be less tech-savvy.
The second issue is the ongoing updates and upgrades and potential for the installation of additional software that is not needed. From time to time AVG will also upgrade the program files, for example mine recently upgraded from version 2013 to version 2014. Often times during this process, the software will default to installing the 30-day free trial of the new paid version. They are sly about how they display the prompt and you have to look carefully for the link to skip the installation and stay with the free version.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS slow down and read every screen and view/understand the options. Do not be afraid to click buttons and options and learn about what you are installing.