What Is the Difference Between Freeware and Shareware

So, what is the difference between freeware and shareware? While on the surface they may seem like the same thing, the two terms actually refer to different types of software. Let's take a look what each are and the differences between the two.

Freeware
Freeware refers to programs or applications that are available for free. Although the product is free, it is usually still copyrighted. The creators of the software, however, don't charge a fee for the use of the software. In some cases, they will request donations. Despite the copyrights, true freeware is open to the public for anyone to distribute.

A popular freeware application is AOL's Instant Messenger. This is a communication program that AOL offers for free download from their Web site. But not all freeware is as well known. If you choose to download freeware, it is important that you know the source. Sometimes hackers will disguise malicious software as useful freeware. Avoid being scammed by doing research on the product before you download it to make sure it's coming from a legitimate source.

Shareware
Shareware is sort of like freeware, except it is used as a marketing tool for software companies. Shareware is usually available as free trial offer of a more complicated program. Once the trial offer ends, the user is then prompted to purchase or upgrade to the full version of the software. Freeware providers intend to offer a free service to the user, but computer shareware providers want to be distributed in hopes of making further sales. Shareware sales can be an important promotional tool for software companies.

When downloading freeware or shareware, always make sure that it is coming from a reputable source to protect you and your computer from hackers.

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