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Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Registration Optional
Owner CBS Interactive
Created by CNET Networks, Inc.
Alexa rank
negative increase 12,448 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Active is an Internet download directory website launched in 1996 as a part of CNET. Originally, the domain was and is now The domain attracted at least 113 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[2]

Overview[edit] distributes their own mandatory binary adware installer, which is the only way to unpack their content. The offered content is available in four major categories: software (including Windows, Mac and mobile), music, games, and videos, offered for download via FTP from's servers or third-party servers. Videos are streams (at present) and music was all free MP3 downloads, or occasionally rights-managed WMAs or streams until it was replaced with

The Software section includes over 100,000 freeware, shareware, and try-first downloads. Downloads are often rated and reviewed by editors and contain a summary of the file from the software publisher. Registered users may also write reviews and rate the product. Software publishers are permitted to distribute their titles via CNET's site for free, or for a fee structure that offers enhancements.

In 2004, Music was launched to replace the defunct One may download music in a variety of genres for free from this area of the site, and the artists range from amateurs to professionals. Artists may upload their information and songs to the site for free. All submissions go through a review process. On March 11, 2009, the music section was replaced with

In July 2005, Video was launched with streaming video content in a variety of genres (movies and TV, sports, animation, music videos, etc.). plans to offer downloadable videos in future.


See also: CNET § Adware

Beginning in August 2011, changed their own installer to add adware to the software that users wish to download.[3][4][5] Accusations have included the surreptitious installation of a trojan installer[6] and a browser hijacker.[7] CNET admits in their download FAQ that "a small number of security publishers have flagged the Installer as adware or a potentially unwanted application".[8]

In August 2011, introduced an installation manager called CNET TechTracker for delivering many of the software titles from its catalog.[9] The installation manager offers to install add-ons like browser toolbars and change default homepages before downloading the software the user wants. Users registered with can access files either with the installer or directly via "Download Direct Links".

In December 2011, Fyodor of published his strong dislike[10] of the installation manager and concerns over the bundled software, causing many people to spread the post on social networks, and a few dozen media reports. The main problem is the confusion between content[11][12] and software offered by original authors; the accusations included deception as well as copyright and trademark violation.[12]


CNet uses Spigot to monetize the traffic to According to Sean Murphy, a General Manager at CNet, "Spigot continues to be a great partner to, sharing our desire to balance customer experience with revenue." [13]

Security Vulnerabilities in foistware[edit]

In 2014, The Register and US-CERT warned that via's foistware, an "attacker may be able to download and execute arbitrary code". [14]