Speed Up Your Computer – The Scam

My computer has been sluggish lately. I put it down to the weather. Then I found a free piece of software (lets called it “Cleanup”) that offered to check my system for “Registry Errors”. The CNET logo was prominently displayed on the sales page, so I assumed the software was endorsed by CNET, and decided to give it a whirl. It found 305 Registry Errors and invited me to buy a reduced “Cleanup” package to correct all those nasty Registry Errors. I bought the reduced package ($25), downloaded, installed and ran it.

Over the next few days I noticed the system slowing down again. I rebooted, and used TaskManager to see what was running. I found “Cleanup” was running, although I hadn’t started it, and concluded that it must be set up to run automatically at start-up. I killed the process and went about my business. A couple of reboots later (due to MS updates or McAfee restarts) I got a pop-up message from “Cleanup” that I now had 480 Registry Errors and should take immediate remedial steps (including purchasing the complete “Cleanup” system package). I became suspicious. How could I have so many Registry Errors after such a short time? Five minutes later, I got another pop-up message to say my system now had 79 Registry Errors. At that point I knew I’d bought a pup. I stopped what I was doing and uninstalled the “Cleanup” package. Hopefully, it’s gone from my system.

Beware these packages. I’m convinced that it was deliberately slowing my system down to encourage me to make further purchases.

6 thoughts on “Speed Up Your Computer – The Scam

  1. Jack Eason says:

    JJ my friend, they saw you coming. Stick with your inbuilt ‘clear recent history’. You’ll find it under the heading ‘Tools’. I use it once a month when my laptop grinds to a halt. It’s free, and it does what it say on the tin. 🙂

  2. Les Edgerton says:

    I do what Jack does–clear recent history–but I do it several times a day.

    There’s something else you can do. Most of my computer friends who work in the industry use AVG. There’s a free version that does a superlative job and if you upgrade to the paid version, it’s inexpensive and does what it says. IOBit also has a free version and I use both. Both my computer guy and my daughter, who has a degree in computer science from Purdue both use these (along with a few others, since they’re pros), but strongly recommend these two, either the free or the paid versions. Personally, what’d I’d avoid are Norton or MacAfee programs–my experience is they let lots of stuff through. Another may have a more positive experience–this is just mine.

    Also, I use Carbonite as an off-site place to store my backup n case my ‘puter ever crashes. It’s a life-saver!

  3. JJ Toner says:

    Thanks, guys. I have a morbid fear of free anti-virus software, which is why I’ve been using McAfee (successfully) for many years.

    Les: Love the casual offhand reference to “my computer guy”.

    What’s Carbonite? Is that like Kryptonite? I keep my backups on a memory stick in a glass-fronted cabinet in a different room from my computer. Is that wrong?

    A telecomms engineer pointed me at a program called %temp% which displays temp files. You find RUN and key in %temp%. You can then select all these files and delete them. This helped speed things up.

  4. Ruth Cooke says:

    Another happy AVG user here–I’ve used the free version for years and never had any major problems.

    I tend to only go with free programs that come with recommendations from those I trust. If I’m looking for a free program, I have one hard and fast rule:

    If it purports to be free when you Google it, runs a test and finds errors, THEN asks for money to “fix” the problems it found, I back off–it’s almost certianly a scam of some sort.

    Good free programs often have an enhanced paid version, but they NEVER do a diagnostic, find errors, then ask you to pay to fix them!

  5. Kim Van Sickler says:

    Argh! As writers, we are so vulnerable to computer scares. We need to post to our blogs, check our e-mails, write our stories, check Facebook, etc., etc. I hate the feeling of knowing that one wrong click and I’ll be in a heap of trouble. Hope you solved your problem!

    I’m visiting from the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest. So nice meeting you!

    Kim Van Sickler

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