5 dangerous downloads that could obliterate your computer

We all wish we could say that we maintain our gadgets in the right way at all times.

Just look at your keyboard. Is this a dusty mess? Tap or click for a complete guide to cleaning your phone, laptop, desktop or tablet the right way. One mistake and you can ruin your investment.

It’s not just the outside that matters. With your smartphone, malicious apps can do more harm – and waste more space – than you know. Tap or click for the 5 apps you need to remove now.

what about your computer? Let’s look at some download habits that may be ruining you.

1. Free Isn’t Always Better
How many shows have you watched in the past year? If you already pay for certain streaming services, you may be inclined to when everything you want to watch is only available on a different one. The lure of free movies is real, but don’t go the illegal way.

If you’re downloading from a suspicious source, you might be downloading your favorite movie as well as a virus. One clue you should be finding a new place to get the movies: The site you’re on has an incredibly long or unusually ending URL.

Instead of getting yourself into trouble, check out some legitimate free movie sites like Kanopy and Popcornflix. Tap or click here for a list of the 10 best sites to watch movies for free. You’ll have to deal with some ads, but it’s a lot better than getting malware or getting into legal trouble.

RELATED: Skip the icing. Protect your vaccine card with cheap sleeves.

2. Never heard of it
Ever get pop-ups for antivirus or anti-malware software? What about cleaner software that cleans your cache and junk files? After all, your hard drive is full of junk and a free option is tempting.

Before you click, know that when you’re ready to clean or protect your system, these ads aren’t what you should be turning to. In most cases, free PC cleaning facilities come with adware, viruses or other bits of software that eventually lag behind your PC and make it unable to perform basic tasks.

Free antivirus software is as likely to be a racket. Once that software gets into your computer, it can cause a lot of damage.

Windows has a built-in feature called Disk Cleanup that will get rid of unnecessary files for you. Tap or click here and scroll down to #4 to see how it works.

3. You didn’t go looking for it
On the Internet, good things rarely fall into your lap. There’s a ton of valuable free software out there—everything from Microsoft Office and Photoshop alternatives to security downloads you can rely on. But if you’re not actively looking for a program, don’t download freeware you can find on the Internet.

Freeware scams come in many forms: an email offer, a pop-up, a link to a site you are visiting. Some may be fine to use, but most unwanted freeware will clog your computer with junk files, give you malware, or provide an entry way into your computer for hackers to take advantage of.

Need help finding reliable software? Tap or click here for five free downloads we’ve checked out.

Before you download any free programs, always make a computer backup in case you need to reformat your device.

4. Say No to Digital Hoarding
The clutter on your computer is made up of things like installers, trial versions of software, photos or videos that take up a lot of space.

What’s dangerous in that? When a computer has enough memory, it can start to lag or overheat. Overheating is dangerous for electronics, as it can damage parts such as the motherboard. In some equipment, overheating can result in explosion or fire.

Check how much free space your computer’s hard drive has on a regular basis, and tidy up the house when it’s especially high. Keep a few things online — don’t download every photo or file you love — to help keep that number down initially and find space for large files that don’t fit right onto your hard drive.

Don’t be a digital hoarder. Find other places to keep your important files, so that your PC doesn’t have to bear the load. Tap or click here for easy ways to free up some space.

5. Skip the trial versions you forgot about
If you are looking for the location, search in your PC for trial versions of the software. These are often installed as a separate entity from the full version. If you don’t enjoy the product this leads to them being removed later.

But installing the full version doesn’t automatically remove the trial version, so it stays on your computer, taking up space in your computer memory.

Since trial versions clutter your computer, skip them — especially if you know you’ll end up with the software anyway.

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