Every time I look in my spam folder, I see a lot of "Buy CS3" or "Buy Adobe Software" email. I'm sure you have seen the same email that sell software for less than 10% of the regular price.
It seems like a great deal - so should you buy from these companies?
My answer is a resounding NO. Here's why.
The Software is Pirated
Prices that are too good to be true usually are. If you see software with a retail price of $1,000 selling for less than $100 it is most likely a pirated copy of the software. You are receiving an illegal copy of the software and none of the money you purchase goes to the original software creator.
Because you have a pirated copy of the software, you can not access any of the usual technical support services or make a warranty claim. And in most countries you are committing a crime with the purchase.
But it gets even worse than that.
You Give Away Your Bank Passwords Too
A lot of time the software you purchase (or in some cases download for free) comes with an unwanted and hidden extra in the form of a trojan horse. This trojan software sits undetected on your computer and watches what you do. The next time you use Internet Banking, or purchase anything online, the program will scan your password or credit card number and send that to a hacker. They will quickly empty your bank account or credit card account leaving you to pick up the pieces.
Other malicious trojans can take control of your computer (again without you knowing) and use your computer and your Internet connection to send out thousands of spam email to other people.
You can't be safe even if you have virus protection software. The trojans scan for this software and disable it when they first run - so you are no longer protected.
So the best line of defence is not to download or run these programs. Ever. Even if you uninstall the program, the Trojan stays and keeps watching everything you do.
How To Be Safe
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you want to make sure you can contact the software manufacturer (like Adobe for CS3), give them the website name and the price they are selling for and ask them if this is a real supplier.
Some people argue that because the software is too expensive (and you wouldn't have purchased anyway) you are not hurting the manufacturer by pirating.
If you can't afford to purchase the software (and let's face it, Adobe CS3 is very expensive), there are always other options. The Open Source movement has lots of free software like Open Office (a Microsoft Office replacement) and Linux. There are cheaper image editing programs too:
- Adobe has their own Adobe Elements 6 which is a cut down version of PhotoShop CS3 for around $100. Honestly, it does almost everything that most photographers want to do.
- There is even a free version of Photoshop online called Adobe Photoshop Express
- Other online and free editing programs include Flickr and Picasa
- And for a heavy-duty and completely free piece of image editing software, try the Gimp - it can be hard to learn but is every bit as powerful as Photoshop CS3.
So be aware of those software email - they may be cheap but you can end up paying lots more than you bargained for.
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