Free scanning products offer to diagnose and fix PC problems. But are they looking for the right problems?
A recent spate of TV ads for a PC scanning and repair suite prompted me to take a look at a couple of free scanners — and consider what’s really important for maintaining and securing our personal computers.
TV ads claim to fix every type of PC flaw
Last weekend, I was in the kitchen baking Christmas spritz cookies and sort of watching the TV. My attention was caught by seemingly endless advertisements for a computer service that would block malware before it executes, boot the speed of my PC, make it more reliable, and maximize my Internet connection speeds — all for free.
The software was PC Matic from PC Pitstop, a company that’s been around for years and started out as (the company claims) the first online PC diagnostics service. Over the years, PC Pitstop has added additional diagnostics and repair tools to PC Matic. And many other companies have released similar tools, some of which Fred Langa discussed in his Aug. 9 Top Story, “Test-driving ‘free scan’ tune-up suites.”
The “free” tune-up and repair suites are typically targeted at consumers and have a generally mixed reputation. Because I work primarily with business systems, I’ve not had a strong need to try the utilities out.
Nevertheless, the TV ads were quite compelling, and PC Pitstop has a fairly good reputation. So, curiosity getting the better of me, I downloaded the company’s software and tried it on a virtual machine.
Once the software had completed its scan of my test system, I reviewed its recommendations (shown in Figure 1). Some, such and clearing out temporary Internet files, were valid; others left me scratching my head. For example, it recommended getting rid of patch uninstallers (not the actual patches, but essentially their folders on the system) older than 90 days.