Look for a free program on Google, and you'll probably be directed to software downloading sites such Download.com/CNET Downloads and FileHippo. While it's true you can download lots of freeware from these sites, you'll also be downloading some bundleware (bundled crap software or, worse, malware that you don't want).
How-To Geek did an investigation of all the freeware download sites they could find--and discovered that every one of them has some crapware bundled up as well. Even ones that are supposedly "trusted sources" do it.
While some provide an alert that the software comes bundled, this is still a problem. Here's just one scary screenshot of what you might experience from using these sites' installers (visit How-To Geek for more than a handful of others):
There are workarounds. If you're downloading from one of these sites. When using the software installer, you have to head to the advanced installation options to opt out of installing new toolbars and other garbage. But not all installers let you opt out and who wants to hunt down the options or read the fine print?
A better solution is to download directly from the freeware developers' sites, but as How-To Geek notes, you'll have to be wary getting there too. Ads at the top of Google for the software lead you to these freeware download sites instead. I like Ninite too, the only safe place to get Windows freeware.
And if you get a new Windows laptop or desktop PC, be on the lookout for performance-crippling crapware on it as well.