"Especially when somebody else is picking up your distribution expenses."
Ok, since this "old" thread has been revived anyway, let me give my 2c to this aspect. Most developers would be happy to have "distribution expenses" caused by heavy downloads from their own page; today's schemes are such that for most developers, 1,000 downloads or more per months would not only be included within their hosting, but would be considered peanuts by their respective hosters, which means by such download traffic, they would not be forces into another, more expensive contract.
Now, whenever you see some sw on a site like cnet (e.g. because the term "review" redirected you there, which is not a bad thing since as said, many reviews there are quite informative), what do you do then? Download from cnet, and have trouble, or go to Softonic and have as much trouble (alcool: bad), or to Softpedia, and presumable have no troube? (wikipedia: good - that's how I ensure for myself to not mix bad and good up).
No, your natural way of doings things is to search for the homepage of the developer, and to try to download from there. Now you could say that with unknown developers, that's a much greater risk that downloading the same free or trial program from e.g. Soft(wiki)pedia, since them do some scanning, but at the end the day, nobody except for the developers knows what his program will do, behind the scenes, when you run it, so you either trust him or not?
But then, in light of the above, such direct download should be possible in most instances, and when not, for some financial reason behind (really big download, really lots of downloads every month), it's the developer, on his homepage, who should you redirect to the download "provider", it should be up to the (honest) developer to redirect you to some honest download where NO crap, viruses, whatever will be added, i.e. as long as (e.g.) Softpedia is "safe", why a developer should not redirect you to that site, and to the download link over there?
Problems start from 2 bad ways of doing things:
- Your downloading from "anywhere", from "where it's available", without thinking
- Much worse even (and you should think twice then about the developer: is he really so naïve, or is he not entirely honest?): The download redirect link from the developer's page brings you to cnet, Softonic, et al.
This rule, download from the developer resp. following his redirect link to a trustworthy download site, should apply except for defunct sw (where there is not any developer's site anymore), and those are rare; most often, you get crapware by not following the above rule, by not thinking about it.
And yes, whenever some program is unknown to me, and its developer, too, I try to gather some "reviews", some shared experience with that program from different sources. Which means we're not 15 years old anymore, we should be beyond "sw collecting". When in doubt, be sure you'll be able to live without it.