What Chrome, IE And Firefox Look Like After Installing CNET's Top 20 Downloads

It's second nature to me to watch for the tell-tale disclaimer prompt during a program install, asking me to opt-out of adopting a toolbar, or making a product's website my home page, or downloading some "system cleaning" tool I've never heard of. But what would happen if you didn't take this cautious approach? What if you're the type of person that clicks the "Next" button blindly or automatically goes for the "Typical" install option?

This experiment was inspired by the following post on Free Fixer, showing Internet Explorer after a few rounds with CNET's Download.com. I didn't think it was entirely fair to show the results with just IE, so I downloaded the top 20 apps myself, installed them and then checked out Chrome and Firefox to see how they weathered the storm.

First, here are the programs:

  • Avast Free Antivirus
  • AVG AntiVirus FREE 2013
  • CCleaner
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
  • Free YouTube Downloader
  • Internet Download Manager
  • YTD Video Downloader
  • WinRAR (32-bit)
  • Advanced SystemCare
  • Camfrog Video Chat
  • VLC Media Player
  • Virtual DJ
  • UMPlayer
  • Download Accelerator Plus (DAP)
  • GOM Media Player
  • Google Chrome *
  • Glary Utilities
  • PhotoScape
  • Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +
  • Mozilla Firefox *

* Pre-installed

And the final screenshots of each browser:

Internet Explorer 9

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.89m

Firefox 15.0.1

Overall, my IE didn't end up looking as hijacked as the one at Free Fixer — in fact, Firefox is almost as bad. Chrome might look like it faired the best, but you can see a couple of unwanted extensions in the top-right corner and my Chrome home page certainly wasn't... whatever it is now.

Why my IE doesn't look as bad as the Free Fixer one likely has to do with the fact he was using Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista, while I was using Internet Explorer 9 and Windows 7.

Some things I noted while running the install gauntlet:

  • Crashes. Lots and lots of crashes. Explorer (that is, the file manager) stopped responding a few times as I pounded Windows with installer after installer.
  • The only app to include CNET's download "wrapper" was PhotoScape, so the toolbars and other adware in the rest of the programs is completely the fault of the developer.
  • Firefox opened up an "install add-on" tab for each add-on as it tried to install, providing an additional vetting process beyond the source application's installer.
  • Chrome and IE had vetting processes too, but they weren't as obvious as Firefox's.
  • Funnily enough, because AVG was one of the first things I installed, it put a stop to most attempts to change my home page. Most.
  • Man, there are a lot of crappy programs on the internet.
  • Of course, I had to install Firefox and Chrome beforehand, so those items were skipped in the top 20.

I should stress there's no ulterior motive here — I was just curious to see how many installers sought out Firefox and Chrome for their toolbars and extensions, in addition to IE.

[Free Fixer]



    It's really the epitome of non-computer-savvy users' mindset when using the internet.
    Need to download a youtube video? Install "Free Internet Video Downloader", which gives you an .flv file. Install "Flash Video Player" to play said .flv file.
    Got a virus from downloading a YouTube video? Install ALL the free Antivirus programs!
    And most importantly, there's never enough browser toolbars!

    Tried downloading Windows Movie Maker from CNET and it had a virus in it lol. First and last time I download anything from CNET.

    My dad continuously complains that IE opens slow so I continuously go over there and uninstall all the add ons . Once his top bar filled up about half the page! Drives me insane.

    Oh come on, my comment has been waiting on moderation for for 3 hours, probably because I used an exclamation mark . This is just silly.

      Sorry that's 4 hours.

        I am wondering if the moderator would care to explain why the comment had to wait for moderation after they finally publish it. It would sure make posting on this site easier.

          Did you mention the name of this website? I find that marks your comment for moderation instantly .

      I have the same problem with long moderation for no reason

    Yeahhh... My mother's IE desktop has a bunch of horrible toolbars when I use it. She wouldn't use Chrome, so we met halfway and she's happily been using Firefox.

    my fiancé installed something that put the Babylon toolbar in her browser. I am pretty sure that thing is malware and was responsible for an email going to all her mail contacts. Had to do a clean windows install to get rid of it too.
    Sites like CNET and tucows used to be helpful 10 years ago but are now just the seed of most malware on the interwebz. Death to them all!

    Given that browser-bias is often as bad as O/S bias... Kudos for doing the same thing fpr all browsers -- shows they all suck with useless add-ones.

    My wife does this.. every month or two I have to go through all the installed bloatware and uninstall it because "My computer is ALWAYS slow!!!"... I've tried to educate her but she doesn't pay attention to those kind of things.

    I get a shudder every time i see toolbars in a browser.

    Ssome extension ever made my chrome crash , since then I'm very careful every time I install any applications . Now I have four browsers : ie9,chrome, firefox and Avant browser. they're very clean and only have the toolbars I installed manually.
    Keep a good habit is very important.

    The number 1 thing I do when "fixing" my friends computers in my role as their go to IT consultant ... Uninstalling goddamn toolbars. Most recently I spent about a half hour on a friend who is totally IT blase and just fast clicks through anything and was complaining that her laptop had slowed to a crawl. Her IE had toolbars taking up the top 1/3 of the page!!

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