Why you can trust (some) Free Software
By Jeandre de Beer / Pc World
Question : Is it safe to use free software? What do the software authors get out of it?
Answer : It’s good to be skeptical—and careful. Free products often come with strings attached.
But if you pay attention and listen for the right recommendations, you can get some excellent software for free.
There are some perfectly good reasons why an individual programmer, a programming collective, or even a for-profit company would let you use the fruit of its labor without getting paid.
The free version of a program is often a marketing tool for the paid version
The company gives away a stripped-down version of its product, which can build word of mouth that helps sell the paid “Pro” version. That Pro version will have features the free one lacks—features that many users can do without but others need.
For instance, only the paid version of EaseUS Todo Backup can password-protect your backups. And the free version generally comes without tech support. Also, many companies offer the free versions only for home use.
Businesses have to buy the Pro version. Free software can also produce income through advertising. However, this “advertising” can cross the line to become more like malware.
The worst such advertising caches itself within the installation routine. If you don’t take care when you walk through the installation wizard, you’ll install two or three programs you don’t want in addition to the one you do.
Many people regard these potentially unwanted programs, or PUPs, as malware.