Downloading things is a relatively recent phenomenon. Can you remember when a lot of computer related magazines used to actually send you a disk (at one point, a floppy of all things) when they wanted you to try out a piece of software that they considered to be especially impressive? Nowadays, you can just follow a link on a website that can tell you all about a great piece of software, and then download it immediately. But of course, not all downloads are created equal. Maybe we’ll come out one day with a “finding mediocre downloads” article, but not today. You want to get something great.
First off, finding a great download means that you have to have a good idea what you want. If you do not know yourself, not only will you disappoint the Oracle at Delphi. You will also end up disappointing yourself, as you struggle to find anything that really suits you. While you can just download things for the fun of doing so, and slowly filling up your hard drive, you will inevitably get a bunch of crap with such a “shotgun” approach to it.
What you want to do is know what you really need your download for, and then seek it out by function. While sometimes a brand will be so pervasive that all of the signs will point to them (such as Norton for antivirus programs), that does not necessarily mean they are the best out there. While you can certainly find great name brand products to download, the reviews of the programs by actual users are going to tell you a whole lot more than any advertisement ever will. With downloads, downloaders need to be aware.