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What 'FREE' Really Means

How free is FREE?-  For the internet 'newbie' the term 'free' comes as a shock, especially when you consider the cost of a computer and the monthly connection fees, maintenance, programs, added hardware, software, etc... the list goes on and on of out-of-pocket expenses that can accumulate. And the costs will accumulate proportionately to the knowledge you gain as your desire to grow and learn more about the internet increases. So, if you're determined to be a 'geek' or a 'power user' and not just an average surfer, you will have to find a way to cut as many costs as you can. The word 'free' is a powerful attraction to us all!

I've noticed that the term 'free' on the internet comes in degrees. I've been answering a lot of newbie questions lately so I thought I'd share my thoughts on one of my favorite topics and help to clearly define what free really means on the internet, since it's a word that is often abused. So here goes:

'Open source' usually applies to code, but can be for any file that you can modify without stipulation, add to, make available to anyone else, brand and use truly without restriction for your benefit and for the benefit of others in the internet community. Open source is my favorite way to learn and to cut operating costs. Most of the contributors to the open source community are the most generous people on the face of the earth. Generous with their limited time and knowledge and they truly have a mission of bettering the global community for everyone. I have no problem with it whatsoever and contribute to it and support it myself whenever my time allows.

'Freeware' applies to programs and services that are usually branded by their originator for your personal use without paying a fee. Most freeware products and services come with the stipulation that you cannot remove the originator's copyright branding, disassemble, recompile, make derivative works from, resale or redistribute as your own in exchange for your free and personal use. No problem there, unless your freeware becomes 'spyware'.

'Adware' is also a type of freeware that generates revenue for the originator by giving you the use of a free product or service in exchange for viewing (and possibly) clicking on or buying products from ads. I understand the need for revenue generated from advertisement. Advertisement is what keeps most services free. No problem there, unless the ads are 'spyware'.

'Shareware' refers to trials and demos of products and services that you can use for a free time period to decide if you want to purchase them or not and can be limited or crippled until you do. I don't have a problem with 'try before you buy' either unless it becomes 'spyware' too.

'Spyware' refers to freeware and shareware products and services that are cleverly disguised to track your movements on the internet without your knowledge by using ads or embedded scripts that report your every move online and off. If you know you are being tracked in some way and you still want to use a product, then I don't have a problem with that either. It's your choice.

However, I do have a big problem with products and services that track you or access your information without your knowledge. I think it's an invasion of privacy and highly unethical. However, not all adware is spyware. Some of it is useful and does provide a way for the average home user to cut their costs.

How do you know if you have spyware on your computer? The links below should help you determine that. You can protect yourself (incidentally - truly FREE for personal use) against unauthorized access to your information and computer. It would definitely be to your advantage to find out more and protect yourself against an invasion of your privacy and any unauthorized access to your computer. You might be surprised at what you find out!

Useful links:

OptOut - get rid of spyware:

SpyWare Lookup Database:

Ad-Aware by LavaSoft spyware removal:

SpyBot Search and Destroy


Post a Comment About This Article


Previous posts:

Vanessa -- Tuesday, December 13 2005, 05:48 am -- I think this article was terrific, as I\'m offering alot of free downloads from my site of graphics for digital scrapbooking I was surprised to see how upset i was making alot of digi sites who sell scrap pages, I will be to in the future, but think some things you just shouldn\'t ask money for, and should be offered with no strings attatched after all I didn\'t make the software that spins out all the fabulous graphics! Anyway love your site and have quoted you on mine, with a link to here so other people can also benefit!


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