Those of us here at LockerGnome have all heard this story before. One of our relatives, friends, neighbors, associates, co-workers, or acquaintances tells us they saw an advertisement on TV — or maybe an advertisement on the Internet — claiming that [fill in the name of shyster company here] software will make their PC run faster, smoother, like new, better than new, super fast, or some other such nonsense. They then made the mistake of falling for the deal offered since it cost a mere [fill in the unbelievable pricing of your choice], only to find out that the software ended up causing more problems and that their PC was performing worse than before they installed the software. Some of these folks are once burned, twice shy, but others may be duped into buying yet another optimization type of software, hoping to cure the problem created by the first one. Unfortunately for them, they are just adding to a problem that may not have existed before they added these supposed premium tools. So what can we do to help these people?
- We can tell them how stupid they are.
- We can tell them that they wasted their money.
- Or, we can send them this article and tell them they are not alone (highly recommended).
It is an unfortunate fact of life that we Windows users have been subjected to all types of scams — optimization software being just the tip of the iceberg. To sell their wares, some programmers and merchandisers have made some outlandish claims, including these:
- This software will speed up your PC by 300% or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus percentage] more.
- This software will solve five or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus number here] PC problems with a single click.
- A ‘free trial’ of this software will scan your system, find a bunch of errors, report your PC is not running at its full potential, and for a certain amount of money, the software will remove all of these errors. The software may also promise that the skies will clear, the birds will sing, and man will know peace on Earth!
- This software is backed up by testimonials from Harry C., Mary J., and so forth who proclaim the benefits and miracle fixes they have received while using it.
If these “subtle” marketing strategies don’t do the trick, there are more devious methods at hand that scam artist software peddlers can use to sucker in more unwary clientele. One is the ever-suspicious pop-up that displays as a phony alert that there’s something wrong with a system. A few years ago, my partner and I were running a very successful computer business. At the time, business was booming because unfortunate souls had downloaded software or email infected with viruses. To further add to their distress, some of them had attempted to fix their own systems with any number of the optimization scams or gimmicks that were currently out there. Others had installed the optimization tools in an attempt to speed up what they thought were slow PCs.
The problem with optimization software was driven home to us when a client brought in a brand new computer that was running Windows XP. The client wanted us to install some programs and to clean out the glut of unnecessary, pre-installed software that typically comes with new systems at the time of purchase. However, before we did anything to the PC, we installed an optimization program (a pay-to-fix trial version) that was popular at the time. I will never forget the look on my partner’s face when the report came back that we had over 500+ registry errors. Unfortunately, it also reported that this new system was not optimized for the Internet (which wasn’t even set up), and the system itself was running at only 58% of its full potential. To verify the report, we ran the program several more times, and each time the numbers changed!
This is not to say that all free programs will damage your system. One of the good programs out there is CCleaner (aka Crap Cleaner), which I have been using for longer than I can remember. As a matter of fact, I was using it when the program was still being distributed for free by its developer. Of course, this was prior to his selling the rights for the software to Piriform LTD. Thankfully, the purchasing software company has retained the free version for private use, and it state on its website:
CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system — allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO spyware or adware!
The other of my favorite free programs that was introduced when Windows Vista first came out is Glary Utilities from Glarysoft LTD. It is a reliable program that does what it promises and cleans your system by removing the junk that can bog down any PC. On its website, Glarysoft LTD states:
Glary Utilities is a freeware with registry and disk cleaning, privacy protection, performance accelerator and amazing multifunctional tools. It can fix dogged registry errors, wipe off clutters, optimize internet speed, safeguard confidential files and maintain maximum performance.
I am sure that some of my fellow Gnomies here at LockerGnome have their very own favorite optimization utilities that they use and trust. Share your experiences with us and let us know what you use and why.
Comments, as always, are welcome.