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How To Avoid Downloading Bad Browsers

How To Avoid Downloading Bad Browsers 

Free software is great. Whether it be a useful application or an exciting game, downloading something you want without having to pay a fee is normally a welcome experience. Unfortunately, with freedom comes a hefty price tag.

The number of free downloads that can be harmful to your computer and personal information seems to be growing at a rather alarming rate. Hackers and other folks with malicious intentions have found that exploiting freebies can be quite a successful method towards achieving their goals. Most Web surfers are quick to download free software without taking the time to investigate exactly what they're getting and where it's coming from. Web browsers are certainly no exception to the rule here, and you should be very careful when it comes to where you obtain them from.
What Is a Bad Browser?
A bad browser can be a lot of things. For the sake of this discussion, however, it is a web browser that contains harmful or unwanted components or add-ons. Many vendors offer their own browser downloads, packaged with their toolbar or other piece of software. This is especially the case with open source options such as Mozilla's Firefox. Amateur and professional developers alike are encouraged to create their own add-ons to enhance the browser's capabilities. This is a great boon to the industry as a whole, with third-party ingenuity taking the power of the browser to a level never before thought possible. However, there are those out there looking to exploit this trend for their own diabolical needs. Ranging from minor annoyances like low-level adware to viruses that can seriously compromise your security, undesirable items can be easily masked inside a browser package.

The majority of these packages, such as Firefox's Campus Edition, are perfectly safe and provide a level of convenience by including a useful set of add-ons as part of the download. This particular example is actually hosted by Mozilla, so you can be almost certain that you are getting a good product. On the other hand, there are many third-party sites offering Firefox downloads that are, to put it lightly, not as reputable. These downloads can contain adware, malware, viruses, and other items that we would all like to avoid. Another safe example is Google's custom offering of Internet Explorer 7, which comes packaged with the company's toolbar as well as other features tailored to its popular search engine.

Most of the time, the add-ons that are offered as part of a package are also available as separate downloads. In these cases, if you feel that the add-on is indeed offered by a trusted source than I suggest that you play it safe. Download the browser itself from its official site, and then install the add-ons that you desire separately. This may border on paranoia, but it is better to be cautious when it comes to these free downloads.

There are other cases where developers create their own browser altogether, competing with the likes of Firefox, IE, Safari, etc. These are usually full-fledged applications built on top of existing engines, sometimes containing an impressive array of unique features. You have to be most careful with these offerings, as they are more than just a well-known browser packaged with add-ons. Some of these look nothing at all like the applications you may be used to, and boast mainly original components. Because of this, the room for exploitation increases exponentially if the creators choose to take that route. Some originals, like the Avant Browser, have developed a solid reputation over the years and present an enjoyable and productive user experience. Others, such as NetBrowserPro, have been exposed for integrating negatives as serious as keyloggers and packet monitors. The scariest part is that some of these bad browsers have the ability to slip right through the cracks and be undetected by your spyware and virus protection software.

In these cases, do your research prior to downloading! Search the Web for user reviews and other information about an original browser prior to installing it on your computer. The extra time you take to do this may save you from a giant headache in the long run.

Deceptive Links and File Names
Some free browser downloads turn out to be something else altogether. Links and file names can be easily masked to look like a browser download when they are actually a form of adware, malware, or something worse. These are prevalent not only on Web pages but also through P2P and other file sharing avenues. There is a simple way to avoid becoming a victim of this type of trickery. Only download browsers from their official site! There is no reason to obtain a browser from a non-sanctioned location or, worse yet, from a file sharing program.

Where Do I Download the Firefox Web Browser?
The Mozilla Firefox browser is free and available on a variety of desktop and mobile platforms. These include all Windows versions since XP, the Mac OS, and GNU/Linux platforms, given that they have the required libraries.

In addition, Firefox is available on iOS and Android devices. It is not available, however, on other mobile devices such as the Windows phone or Blackberry.

Windows, Mac and Linux Downloads
The best place to download Firefox is directly from Mozilla's official ​download website. This helps you avoid adware, malware or unwanted applications commonly packaged by third-party website downloads.

When you navigate to the Mozilla download site, it automatically detects your operating system, so you can just click Free Download, and it will automatically download the correct version.

If you do want another version, click Download Firefox For Another Platform, and then choose from Windows 32-bit, Windows 64-bit, macOS, Linux 32-bit or Linux 64-bit.

Once downloaded, install Firefox by double-clicking on the downloaded file, and following the prompts.

Update Your Firefox Version
Firefox automatically updates to the latest version, but you can update it manually if you wish:
  1. Select the menu button at the top right of the browser. (This button is represented by an icon that is either three vertical dots or three horizontal bars, sometimes called a "hamburger" icon.) 
  2. Click the Help (?) icon, and select About Firefox to launch a popup dialog. 
  3. Click Restart Firefox to Update when it displays.
Mobile OS Downloads
Android: For Android devices, download Firefox from Google Play. Just launch the Google Play app, and search for Firefox. Click Install. If it is already installed, Google Play displays "Installed." Once it completes installation, click Open to start using it.

iOS: For iOS iPhones and iPads, open the App Store and search for Firefox. Click the Get button, and then Install. Enter your iTunes password at the prompt, then click OK. Once installed, click Open to begin using it.

Using Firefox Add-ons
Firefox is highly customizable, allowing you to sync bookmarks and preferences across devices, browse in "silenced" tabs, and take advantage of loads of other useful features. In addition, it supports a large number of custom add-ons that extend its feature set.

Here are just a few features you might want to take advantage of immediately:
  1. Change the default search engine. The default search engine for Firefox is Yahoo. If you prefer another search engine, you can easily change it. Click the magnifying glass in the "Search" box at the top right of the browser and choose Change Search Settings. Under Default Search Engine, select the one you want. 
  2. Sync your bookmarks and preferences. You can easily sync your data across devices using the Firefox Sync feature. Select the menu button and choose Sign in to Sync. Select Create Account if you don't already have one, and then follow the prompts to create a Firefox account. Once enabled, Firefox will sync across all devices in which you are signed in. 
  3. Customize the toolbar buttons. If you have certain features you use all the time or features you never use but that are on the default toolbar, switch up your toolbar buttons. Select the menu button and choose Customize to launch a tab with drag-and-drop toolbar items. Drag the ones you want to the top toolbar. To remove an item, right-click it and select Remove from Toolbar.

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