Double My Rip-Off. Avoiding Online Fix-it Scanners

Professional Technician. Do Not Attempt.

Every so often I get inundated with ads on radio and TV for an online computer scanner that will detect errors, fix those errors, and thus, speed up my computer system. “Double My Speed and Speed Up My PC” are two of the latest “scanner” products to illuminate me (during the 2 am SportsCenter commercial break) that viruses, malware and system errors are slowing down my computer.

Fine, all of those things would actually do that, so at least I know THEY know that. I decided to give one of these a shot because there are multiple sites that claim to do the exact same thing ( first bad sign) and they change names every year or so (bad sign deux). They have enough money to spend on ads, so I figured there’s something behind these “free” scanners.

I browse to to find there is no online scanner, and it isn’t free. The ‘scanner’ is an executable file to download and install. The installation package is a simple registry cleaner. Of all the utilities I would use to speed up an old Windows XP or Vista machine, a registry cleaner isn’t one of them. The cleaner detects and removes all “orphaned” registry keys. Since Windows reads the registry during the boot process, their logic is that a smaller registry equals a faster PC.

Registry keys change after program installs, uninstalls, updates, etc. The Registry is the one thing you don’t want to stick a virtual screwdriver  into since Windows depends on the registry for everything. One bad move and you can have an non-bootable system. Opinions vary on this, but in my experience you only do surgery on the registry if you have a system that is broken, not slow.

I ran the cleaner anyway. I should probably reveal at this point that the lab rat in this experiment was a virtual Windows 7 PC with 3 GB of memory and is performing very well. The scan found 350 errors in the registry. Seems like a lot. So, when does the virus and malware scan start? Never. To get those extra pieces AND fix the “errors” you need to pay $40 or sign up for 1,467 subscription services. To me, this is just another version of scare-ware with no real value. No wonder they have the scratch for advertisements…and for the “testimonials” on how much faster computers are after the clean up.

You can use the following to keep your Windows PC in good condition for free:

1. Anti-Virus: Microsoft Security Essentials is free to download and install. It updates and scans on its own. There are other free AV applications out there, but I like MSE because it’s actually caught some trojan downloaders.

2. Anti-Malware: MSE will help in this area, but if you’re a suspicious paranoid (not a bad thing to be in the computer world), Malwarebytes is free and does a great job at hunting down and destroying the latest mal and scareware.

3. Disk Defragmenter: This utility moves files closer together on the disk for faster reads. Windows 7 and Vista do this on their own automatically. If you’re still on XP, try MyDefrag .

4. Remove Programs from Startup: If you want to get fancy, you can tell Windows what programs to start when you log on. The fewer the better because every program that starts takes resources. This video will walk you though the process. That’s not me in the video. Not sure why I needed to say that, but I feel better somehow that you know it.

There you go. Take that $40 and go buy something more constructive. I’m using mine for Guinness and pizza. Again.


Categories: Home Networking

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1 reply

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