Is UpToDown Safe to Use? Here’s the Truth

Mobile Apps

Is UpToDown safe? This is probably one of the first questions someone will ask about the website when they encounter it. Considering that UpToDown introduces itself as a Google Play Store alternative and offers Android Package Files (APK) for users to download, your phone’s security and safety are important factors when availing of their service.

Whether you are a Huawei phone user who cannot access the Play Store or someone who wants an alternative to it, we are here to explain everything you need to know about UpToDown!


Inside This Article

  1. What is UpToDown?
  2. Is Uptodown Safe to Use and How Does It Work?
  3. Virus Defense and Security
  4. Is UpToDown Legal?
  5. What Apps Are on UpToDown?
  6. Should You Switch to UpToDown?


What Is UpToDown?

Screenshot of the UpToDown front page

So, what exactly is UpToDown? As we touched on earlier, UpToDown is basically an app marketplace that works as a third-party Google Play Store alternative. It has its own verification and approval process for those who want to publish their apps on the platform. While other similar services like F-Droid or the Amazon Appstore mainly work as their own separate app, UpToDown instead offers apps in downloadable APK form from their website as a “direct browser experience”. They do also have a separate UpToDown App Store app that you can download from their website.

For a longer explanation, UpToDown originally started as a collaborative project by two students in 2002 who wanted to create an open software distribution platform that caters to the needs of both users and developers. Using their ideas from the University of Malaga project, Luís Hernández and José Domínguez slowly expanded their company internationally. By 2006, the localization of the service has since been expanded to 15 other languages, including English.

UpToDown originally offered desktop applications and software for Windows and MacOS systems.  It is also among the first to adopt the Android system and offered apps for it starting in 2011. By 2018, their collection of Android apps and offers has since grown. Users looking up Android apps have since amounted to 80% of the platform’s overall traffic of 130 million users per month. As of 2021, UpToDown hosts around four million different apps and builds while continuing to expand its repertoire.


Is UpToDown Safe to Use and How Does It Work?

Screenshot of the Asana UpToDown page

Now that you know what UpToDown is, let us answer the big question — is UpToDown safe to use? To answer that question, we have to explain how UpToDown works and how they choose and maintain their app catalog.

Even with more than four million different apps hosted, UpToDown continues to add more every day. They do not just publish all the apps that they find immediately, however. Each app runs through a rigorous screening through both human and automated systems before publishing. This process starts with in-house editors selecting, using, and then reviewing new apps for the store. It means that every published app will have a minimum quality requirement. Aside from that, each app page will also have a professional review attached to it, along with original screenshots of the app.


UpToDown Virus Defense and Security

Screenshot of the VirusTotal page

Before publishing, the app’s APK also gets a thorough and in-depth analysis with over 70 different antiviruses using the VirusTotal service. This ensures that users downloading “blue” or cleared apps will not have any harmful malware installed on their Android phones. For cases where there are some false positives or malware-like results, it displays how many antivirus programs had a reaction and what virus it was reported to be. While these are false positives, this added information lets users decide whether they want to download the app or not.

As part of its commitment to openness and transparency, UpToDown also includes the full VirusTotal virus scan result for each app on its security report page. They also add other important information about the app and the APK like the APK’s package name, the Android permissions it uses, file size, and most importantly, its Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) for version validation.

Note: VirusTotal is owned by a subsidiary of Google and is one of the world’s premier internet security companies. It uses a wide array of antivirus technologies from places like Malwarebytes, BitDefender, and Kaspersky to verify the safety of programs, files, and URLs.


Is UpToDown Legal?

Instagram server problems can lead to login errors
Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash

The UpToDown App Store is a safe and free service that lets you download tons of apps without even needing you to sign up or pay a monthly fee — sounds illegal, right? Compared to the shadier side of APK markets, UpToDown is covered by strict terms of use (TOS) framework that respects and protects the app developers. This means that UpToDown works with developers and distributors to officially publish and update the files on their app market. It also means that you would not find cracked APKs, cheats, or other black or grey apps on it.

Rather than charging subscription fees or membership dues, UpToDown instead funds itself through advertisements. Due to mainly existing as a website, UpToDown gets income from Google Adsense and similar agencies. This financial freedom lets UpToDown curate its apps without regional or country download restrictions.

As further proof of its “legit” status, companies such as Unity and Banco Santander have also partnered with UpToDown. Unity has included UpToDown as part of their Unity Distribution Portal (UDP). This portal helps developers publish their work on multiple app marketplaces. Banco Santander, meanwhile, allows UpToDown to offer developers a secure and reliable way for transactions and purchases to go through the marketplace.


What Apps Are on UpToDown?

Now that you know the answer to “is UpToDown safe,” you probably want to know what apps are available to download. As we said earlier, UpToDown has several million apps available for download — including freemium apps. These apps run the gamut of categories from popular games like Genshin Impact to more practical and mundane software like Microsoft Office.

Again, UpToDown doesn’t distribute cracked APKs — an act that is against the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.


Should You Switch to UpToDown?

Social media apps typically have upload specification limits
Photo by Yura Fresh on Unsplash

Even with the option to download the UpToDown App Store or download individual APKs from their website, there are a few ups and downs to switching. While UpToDown does offer better privacy and anonymity compared to the Google Play Store, the biggest problem for potential users is their tech skills. Switching to UpToDown might be hard for those people who might not know how to download apps via UpToDown APK Installer from the Google Play Store.

Overall, UpToDown is one of the better app marketplaces out there. This is especially true if you know how APKs work and you want a secondary app marketplace.