The term „nagware“ originates from the English-speaking world and translates into as „unwanted software“. In most cases, nagware provides its unwilling owners with „forced advertising“ and is therefore often perceived as annoying. Nagware in itself is a concept from the field of software development, in which the software is installed – often unwanted – on the respective consumer’s computer and then provides him or her with a wide variety of content. At the same time, however, it can also be a type of software that is initially offered as a free version and then attracts attention with repeated advertising offers after the free period of use has expired.
The nagware then draws attention to itself in the form of pop-ups, notices or buttons and then forces the user to react accordingly. The construct of nagware is therefore considered unethical in many places, even though it is fundamentally not malware. Anyone who has installed nagware can delete it again without further ado – the possession of nagware does not oblige the user to take any action. Many companies therefore use Nagware to increase their direct or indirect revenues. The following article will define the term Nagware and show the different types of Nagware and how to avoid them.
What is Nagware? Meaning, definition, explanation
Nagware is software that includes functionalities such as constant notifications and purchase suggestions. The term nagware thus refers to software that draws attention to itself through constant, symbolic grumbling or nagging.
In the software world, there are often such word creations, where the word „ware“ is attached to a fundamental property of the respective type of software – for example, this is also the case with „Ransomeware“. In practice, nagware often ends up involuntarily on the consumer’s PC or mobile device. It is usually installed in disguise or even supplied with a free version. After the free period of use has expired, it repeatedly draws attention to itself by including various reminder functions. This is very often perceived as annoying by the recipient, and may even intimidate and actually persuade them to make a purchase.
History of Nagware
The history of nagware dates back to the early days of software development, especially the advent of the Internet. Business models based on nagware existed as early as the 1980s and 1990s. In these early days of the Internet, software applications were often distributed as so-called shareware – i.e. through free distribution by the users themselves. These users could then initially test the shareware free of charge and without obligation.
However, in order to convince potential users to buy the paid versions, software developers included a wide variety of programs that would eventually win them over. This is still considered to be the origin of Nagware. Over the years, the mechanisms of Nagware have been further developed, so that today Nagware primarily spreads itself and is often not so easy to detect or remove.
Types of Nagware
Nagware itself can be divided into different types, such as pop-up ads, where users are confronted with frequent pop-up messages and are asked to purchase paid software products. Furthermore, there are also time-limited or usage-restricted software products that are supplemented by nagware and are also meant to persuade the potential user to purchase paid versions. Last but not least, so-called spyware is a type of nagware that collects information about the user’s consumer behavior. The installation and spying are also carried out secretly, so that the involuntary user of the spyware usually does not notice anything. However, nagware and especially spyware are unethical and sometimes even illegal. Many users even comply with the constant requests in order to get rid of annoying pop-ups or notices as quickly as possible.
Effects of Nagware
The effects on the users of Nagware can be both positive and negative. However, the user is most often inconvenienced because he finds the constant pop-ups as well as notices annoying and clicks away. This then almost inevitably leads to a reduction in user productivity, as the user has less time for his or her actual activities. There is also an invasion of privacy, which is especially the case with spyware.
On the other hand, nagware can prove to be positive for software developers in particular, as it actually encourages potential users to make purchases. Often they purchase paid versions where previously free versions were used. Thus, Nagware can represent a lucrative, additional source of income for software developers. On the other hand, however, Nagware can considerably damage the image of the respective software manufacturer.
Avoidance of Nagware
In any case, it is possible to protect oneself extensively against Nagware infestation. Among other things, supposedly free software products or demo versions should always be avoided. In addition, the respective license agreements should be read, which provide information about the nature of the payment model (and the potential presence of Nagware).
Furthermore, special anti-virus software can also be helpful, which alerts you to Nagware and then prevents the installation. Once nagware is present on the system, ad blockers can also help to prevent constant pop-ups as well as notifications. When it comes to anti-virus software and ad-blockers, however, your own computer or mobile device should be kept up to date and updated accordingly. Last but not least, unsafe websites should be avoided in order to minimize the risk of downloading nagware.
Conclusion on the topic of nagware
So, to sum up, nagware is a special type of software whose main functionalities consist of constantly communicating information or purchase requests as well as spying on sensitive user data. In most cases, it is considered annoying and inconvenient, but it is basically not prohibited by law. Unless it is actually spyware.
Terms related to the term nagware are, for example, adware, shareware and trialware. While Adware is a special advertising software that works similarly to Nagware, Shareware is free and freely available software that is distributed by the users themselves. Trialware, on the other hand, is a free trial version of a software that is then charged for after the free usage period expires – these can also be demo versions.