Freeware for Windows XP: Things to check before Downloading
Plenty of sites all over the Internet offer freeware meant for Windows XP. Most of them are screen savers, system tools, games, music and video players, and system optimizers among many other categories that cover almost everything related to computers. The very term “free" means that you can download the software just to test it. However, it is better to be careful and check a few things before you download anything, because downloads are time consuming and you need to make sure the freeware you are downloading will be useful to you.
A) Compatibility of the Software
First of all, it is necessary to check the compatibility of the freeware you want to download. Software developed for Windows Vista or Server may not run on a PC operating on Windows XP or vice-versa. For some freeware, you can set the compatibility mode to Windows XP before you install it. You can do this by right clicking on the installer to select properties and then the compatibility tab on the properties dialog box. However, this does not always guarantee that the downloaded installer will be able to install the freeware on your computer running on Windows XP.
B) System Requirements
Check on the system requirements of the freeware before you download the software. This is to make sure that the freeware will install and run properly on your system. If the system requirements specify something other than what you have on your system, it would be a waste of time trying to download and install the freeware.
For example, the Adobe Premiere Trial needs 1 GB of RAM to run properly. There is no use spending several hours to download the software as it will not install on the computer that has only 512MB of RAM.
Some freeware requires the support of other software before they can be installed and used. For example, if you are downloading a game that is Java based, you need to install Java before you run the installer. Similarly, to install the trial version of Adobe RoboHelp, you need the .NET framework on your computer. Make sure you download and install the dependencies before you install the freeware.
Again, some of these dependencies can be freeware or paid software. Very often, you will not find the dependencies in the general system requirements listed on the website from which you are to download the software. You will have to read the reviews of the freeware at other websites to find out if it needs any supporting software.
Risks Associated with Freeware for Windows XP
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of websites across the internet offering freeware. As such, not all the websites can be trusted blindly. Even though the intentions of the website may be good, certain freeware can contain tools such as malware and spyware, etc. that send your private information to the developers of the software – or to malicious third-party agents. Screen savers, games, and system tools that claim too much have the biggest chance of containing spyware.
While most websites check for the reliability of the freeware before making it available for download, it is highly recommended that you take your own precautions. The first thing you can do is to read the reviews of the freeware before you download the software. After downloading the software to the local computer, run a scan on the installer and other related files to make sure that the freeware is safe to install.