How to avoid bundled malware

It seems like no matter what free software you install on your computer now, there is no way to avoid bundled malware with your apps. Even programs you basically need!

This annoys me no end. Some are sneaky about it, which annoys me even more. Some are not sneaky, but if you’re in a hurry or not paying attention to what you’re doing, bam! Malware.

The other day I noticed when downloading an Adobe Flash update that the “skip all” buttons and any button to skip was “grayed” out. The decline button was grayed out as well. Grayed out generally means you can’t click the button.

I discovered it was still clickable. This is a sneaky way to force users to install 3rd party programs on their computers – to most of us; grayed out means it’s unclickable.

greyed out buttons

So we figure we can’t click and move on with the installation of the program, in most cases, and end up with the unwanted bundled malware.

Even me, sad to say. I got nailed a couple of times in the past week and I’m still finding garbage on my computer.

I stumbled on two programs to help you avoid bundled malware.

Install programs – malware free!

Unchecky

This handy little program automatically unchecks the checkboxes of software you need/want to install, so you’re pretty much forced to read about what you are going to check. If there is malware that’s going to be installed, Unchecky will warn you.

All you need to do is install and forget about it.

Of course, this doesn’t help to avoid bundled malware when you have buttons to click…

Ninite

I also found Ninite.

These folks download the original programs and strip the malware, then you select your clean programs you want to install. They have a good reputation, and Ninite doesn’t add any crapware.

There is a free version and a pro version for system admins.

There is a version that home users can pay for at a whole $10 bucks a year. Not a bad deal.

Some of their users:

ninite users

Pretty impressive.

Ninite Free Version


This is what you do with Ninite to avoid bundled malware, in a nutshell:

how to avoid bundled malware

I’m using the free version. I selected the programs I want updated, also included a couple that I don’t have:

select programs to install
It installs the programs I don’t have, so you want to be careful there. The programs I selected that I didn’t have, I have used and just didn’t get around to installing them after a hard drive crash.

Ninite installs programs effortlessly. No need to watch.

ninite installing updates

After Ninite runs, this is what you see:

after ninite runs

This is a great way to install programs after a reformat or getting a new computer, fyi.

The only downside to using the free web updater is that it looks like you need to remember to update your programs. There really is no documentation I can find on it. The $9.99 version for home has an automatic updater as does the pro.

As I have nothing to update right now, I will need to wait and see if Ninite alerts me. I suspect it doesn’t.

I like the free version, so I am going to put the Ninite installer on my desktop, and once a week run that bad boy, or when I see Adobe pop up with an update.

desktop ninite to avoid malware

I do not run any updates automatically, you see. Nor should you.

Ninite is easy to use and runs smoothly in the background.

I suggest adding both of these utilities so you too can avoid bundled malware.