Freeware is software that is downloaded from the Internet free of charge. If you are required to view ads as you use the program, then technically the program is not freeware but adware. Freeware is also different than shareware which allows a free trial period but then requires payment to continue using the software.
Though the word ‘free’ frequently makes people think that they have the right to use the software however they want as well as modify and share the software at any time, this is not true of freeware. Even though there is no financial obligation with freeware, there are still restrictions on how the programs may be used. Most programs have a user agreement or license or an End User License Agreement.
Some of these restrictions forbid modifications of the software in any way. They also restrict the redistribution of the software so that they are the only ones with rights to distribute it. Many freeware programs are only available for personal use and may not be used for commercial or business purposes.
Some Freeware doesn’t come with technical support or extensive Help options while other freeware will have extensive tutorials to help users. Some freeware software is written by programmers in their spare time. Other freeware is provided by larger companies who produce a simpler version to offer as freeware to entice potential customers to invest in the larger program with more bells and whistles.
There are millions of freeware programs available on the Internet today which means that there are millions of resources available for computer users to take advantage of. The problem is that not all freeware is from reputable sources. Freeware can contain spyware, adware, key loggers, bots, or viruses which can be harmful to your computer. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of the freeware available. It just means that you should be aware of the risk and proceed cautiously.
Before downloading a freeware program, do your research. Visit message boards and forums to see what people are saying about the specific free software that you are looking at. Then find some websites that test freeware and post their results. When you do the research you will find some great freeware programs that will be useful to you.