While it is an easy matter to find a download for software that you already know, it can be frustrating to locate one to do what you need when you have no idea what it is called or what company has developed it. Perhaps you only have a vague idea what you want software for and need to know exactly what is out there that will fit your needs. The best way to shop for software when this is the case is using a website that has all the downloads in one place and has them well organized so you can find what you need. The following ten websites do just that with each having their own way of doing things and their own assortment of software downloads. Choosing one to use will depend on how well you like the layout and the categories they use, but also pay attention to the security they offer as well as help and support. It will also depend on what platform you are using as to which sites have the most to offer for your platform.
1. Download.com: http://download.cnet.com/windows/?tag=hdr
Global Alexa Rating: 99
Download.com is hands down the most popular site for software downloads. That is probably because they have a huge selection and the site is very easy to navigate. Tabs at the give you the ability to jump right to the most common platforms – windows, Mac, iOS and Android. At the top left is the section to use if you have another platform such as Linux, Web Apps or Other Mobile. Searching can be further specialized by price – free, free to try, purchase and update. Then you can choose the category and you will have just those choices you need. You can also search using a keyword. Also on the main page is a section of the top most popular downloads for the previous week listing the name and how many times it was downloaded. The site is also a fantastic place to go for software reviews s you can see the editor rating, average user rating and read reviews as well. Each software offered has a full description, Pros & Cons and all the specs for the software. You can look at both quick specs and full specs to be sure the software will work for you.
2. Softonic: http://en.softonic.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 192
Softonic has a nice layout with lots of the most important stuff right on the main page including hot software, top downloads, new software and latest updates. Across the top you’ll find tabs for Apps, Games, News, Features, Answers and Videos. A drop down box at the top right lets you choose the platform you are using – Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, Web apps, Java, Symbian, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Pocket PC are offered. The Features section is a useful place to go to for tutorials, tips, comparisons, opinion articles and more. The Answers section is another great feature of this website as you can go there to ask a question or read through those that have already been answered. Videos includes trailers and tutorials. Basically this is a great source for both safe downloads and expert advice. You can also sign up for their newsletters – either to get the week’s highlights or get incredible software discount offers, or both!
3. FileHippo: http://www.filehippo.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 646
While not as complex as other software download sites, you may find this one nice due to its simplicity. The main page has five sections: Latest Updates, Popular Software, Latest Tech News from TechBeat, Categories section and Popular Links. There is a search bar at the top and the link to download their free update checker. That’s it, nothing more. The benefits of using this site, besides its simple nature, is that they have very fast servers with 100MB connections so your downloads will be as fast as possible and they keep old versions of programs so if you update a software and don’t like the new version, you can always go back to the old one. They also do not have the vast selection that other sites have but if you are looking for one of the main ones, you will find it here. Their update checker is probably one of their most useful tools as you can keep on top of whether all your software is running with the most recent updates.
4. Softpedia: http://www.softpedia.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 670
Softpedia has some useful features right on their main page including 7-day top downloaded items, essential downloads, top news, fresh reviews, download catalog and latest additions of software, news and reviews. Tabs across the top take you to Windows, Games, Drivers, Mac, Linux, Scripts, Mobile, Handheld and News. Probably the trickiest part of the website is figuring out where to go to search for what you are looking for. Of course, there is the keyword search at the top, but to get into a more advanced search you need to first select the platform and the click Program Finder at the top left. At that point you can enter keywords, license type (free, shareware or doesn’t matter), pricing filter (less than $10, $10-$20, $20-$30, over $30 or doesn’t matter), rating filter (good, very good, excellent or doesn’t matter), downloads (100, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000 or doesn’t matter), update filter (3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months or doesn’t matter) and file size (<1 MB, 1-5 MB, 5-15 MB, >15 MB or doesn’t matter). Each separate category also has its own 7-day top download list. This site is recommended because of its huge inventory of software and the fact that it is pretty user-friendly.
5. Brothersoft: http://www.brothersoft.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 3,496
Brothersoft offers over 250,000 freeware and shareware downloads. The company has various individual channels, each with their own specific purpose. These 7 channels are: Windows Channel, Mobile Channel, Games Channel, Mac Channel, Webapps Channel, Widgets Channel and Drivers Channel. The website is pretty easy to navigate considering the huge number of offerings involved, but the lack of subcategories in some instances can be annoying at times. Also annoying is how often it opens a different window/tab when you select something. Some nice features are their Hot Downloads Last Hour, Top Freeware for Last Week, Top Shareware for Last Week and Recommended Downloads. They do not guarantee that all software is free of viruses and malware, but they do download, install and scan them before they publish them and they ask that if anyone finds a problem with one that they alert them right away.
6. Soft32: http://www.soft32.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 3,622
If you are one to take advantage of an ad blocking software, then you will probably enjoy this website, otherwise, you won’t as it is full of distracting ads everywhere you go. Other than the ads, the layout of the site is quite nice with software lists including relevant information including user rating, total downloads, downloads last week, date last updated and whether it is free or free-to-try. One undesirable thing about their organization is that there are a whopping 2,590 software stuck in the other/miscellaneous category with no way to further filter them. Furthermore, there isn’t an advanced search option so if the category and subcategory, or keyword search, doesn’t get you there, you are out of luck. They offer windows, Mac and Mobile software only. They have a fairly good inventory with over 175,000 programs and games and they have over 450,000 members in their community. They also keep older versions which can be nice if you find you don’t care for something in an updated version. The blog section seems unrelated as it has articles about reviewing products such as mobile phones, but that’s not a bad way to take a break if you need one. Overall, not a bad site but definitely use it with your ad blocking software turned on!
7. Tucows: http://www.tucows.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 10,963
Tucows is more than just a software download company. They also offer other Internet services including a platform for selling and integrating domain names, managing domain names and more. To get to the download section, simply click the “tucows downloads” blue banner. From there you will see a simple, uncluttered page with featured and newest software shown first and tabs to get to Windows, Mac, Linux and Freeware. Their Download of the Day feature brings you the most popular download every day for Windows, Mac and Linux. The downside of this website is that there isn’t a lot of information about the software offered. You get just one screenshot, a paragraph or so about the software, and a brief info box that includes popularity, cow rating (their rating), the publisher, operating system, cost and support URL. Their freeware area is worth a look as it includes the top 100 free windows downloads ranked by how many times they have been downloaded in the last two weeks. Another advantage of this site is that they have more than 30,000 downloads and even some that are compatible with older operating systems such as Windows 95 and 98.
8. FreewareFiles: http://www.freewarefiles.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 11,983
FreewareFiles is exactly what its name implies – it is all freeware. The website is easy to navigate with useful sections right on the main page including latest software reviews, new/updated freeware, freeware categories, featured freeware, editor’s picks, top 100 in each category and most popular (most downloads). They have some very good categories including audio/video, business/organize, desktop, developer tools, games, graphics/design, home/education, Internet, network, programming, screensavers, security/privacy and utilities. There is also a hot downloads banner near the top providing quick access to the most popular downloads. Sign up for an account and you can put software on your watch list to be notified when it becomes available. You can also submit software to them if you have developed a program. Another great feature of this website is the Free Tech Mags section which includes IT magazines, white papers, downloads and podcasts on topics such as technology, IT management, business technology and e-business.
9. SnapFiles: http://www.snapfiles.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 17,936
SnapFiles offers editor’s selections and must-have freeware for a variety of uses. They have some nice ways to present the options including their Big List of Portable Apps, Top 100 Downloads, Top 100 Portable Apps, Top 50 User Favorites and Random Pick. You can see what others are downloading right now and read the latest user reviews. SnapFiles has been around a long time – since 1997 in fact, so you can feel
pretty confident that they know what they are doing. The main page includes their Daily Freeware Pick, featured new releases & updates, popular new releases and links to categories. They offer both freeware and shareware software. Each one offered shows information about it, various screenshots, their rating, user rating and a popularity rating. Simply click on “details” to learn about the software. Extremely easy to navigate site with plenty to offer. The Random Pick feature is fun when you are bored and just want to have an option pop up that you might not have thought about.
10. Download3000: http://www.download3000.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 34,915
Download3000 offers software downloads for Windows and Mac in a number of categories including Audio and MP3, business, development tools, education, games, graphics and video, home/hobby, Internet, shell & desktop enhancements and utilities. The main page includes their latest additions, their picks, top downloads, user reviews and latest reviews. There is the keyword search feature but there isn’t an advanced search feature. Once you click on a category, you then can choose a subcategory if you wish. The reviews section is the shining aspect of this website as they are enjoyable to read and helpful. Software is given stars for install, ease of use, features, resources used, value and overall. Another useful feature is that they have all the latest additions and updates in one area so you can quickly find out if there is a new update to software you already own since each one clearly has their version number.
You will likely find one or two to be your favorites, but keep the list handy because it never hurts to check out more than one when you are needing software. While many programs will be on all the sites, there are those that won’t be across the board. This is especially true for free software that may have only been submitted to a couple of sites. It can also be helpful to go to more than one location to read more about a software before you download it. It can be a lot of fun to find new software to use and often there are very inexpensive or even free options that work nearly as well as expensive ones.