Generally speaking, these sites are safe. However, some allow you to download beta versions of new software, something that should be approached with caution. While you certainly do not have to download anything off the internet (for free), you should be sure to keep up-to-date with your operating system and to install software from reputable sources, like Steam.

Before you download any of these file types, you should check that the source file is safe. A malicious file could contain ransomware, which is a program that locks your files or encrypts them so you’re unable to see or use them without paying a ransom. You should also be sure that the file is legal to download, as the website may provide links to files that are listed as illegal or could infringe upon someone else’s copyright. Another thing to remember is that many people download free files to test them out without paying for the full version, and then report back to the developer or creators with negative reviews. This is unfair to the developer.

The only reason that I didn’t list this as the site I use is that it doesn’t provide a good way to get the programs as standalone installer files. What happens is that when you select the program you want to get, the page automatically opens a window for the program. By default it looks like it’s going to download the file. But once you click that, the browser window goes to the program’s webpage for that software. So the only way to get standalone installers is to jump through some hoops.

Windows users prefer to go with the official site of the game. Newer, more popular games tend to be on the Hotspot Shield list of safe websites. In some rare cases, you can even find duplicate games on sites other than Steam. This is especially true for popular PC games. Sidescrolling adventure games and platformers are typically easy to find. Check out our Hotspot Shield Best Lists for more.