Mac-Forums Investigates MacKeeper

Update (July 27, 2013): Grammar/spelling errors corrected and a short section about Mac-Forums’ relationship to the product was added.

Introduction

One of the persistent questions around the forum has to do with a piece of software called MacKeeper. A cursory scan of the forum will paint in the minds of new members a confusing picture. On the one hand, many of our community members argue against it, describing it as bad, harmful, problematic and, my favourite, akin to snake oil (thanks to chscag for that one). On the other, the software is a permanent fixture of the advertising on Mac-Forums, creating a context in which it appears that the forums, and by extension its members, support it.

In this article, we’re going to address this confusion by looking at the online discussion around MacKeeper as we delve into the application itself. Finally, we’re going to wrap it up with a critical discussion about MacKeeper’s reputation in relation to its marketing.

Before I begin, I’d like to thank the staff team for assistance on this one. They’ve provided feedback and assistance on the tests, some of which helped to augment the post that you’re now reading.

 

MacKeeper: Advantageous Utility, Digital Detriment or Nothing?

The Internet is a tricky place – it can turn into a rather complex bazaar of ideas in a matter of moments when something presents itself as a problem. Take for instance the controversy that existed between The Oatmeal and lawyer Charles Carreon (see here, here, here). In a short period of time, the Internet (broadly defined) sided with The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman, sparking a rather one sided fight with Carreon who ended up losing the battle (see here). This rather limited example, however specific, demonstrates the ways in which the Internet has an amazing potential to coalesce around an issue if it is deemed important to the “hivemind.” So, what does this have to do with MacKeeper? The answer is quite simple – once word spreads about a particular issue, the users of the Internet tend to group together and serve a common cause. MacKeeper’s reputation is no different, a reputation that has taken a beating despite few empirical studies to suggest that it is worthy of its reputation as worthless (or even fraudulent).

In this way, the Internet can be a cruel place. In general, it’s not commonly known for it’s affection and instead, it generally facilitates unrestrained candor. A complementary trait is the rather unrelenting “recycling” of news, a cycle in which a news story gains traction and gets copied around the web. MacKeeper’s reputation is subject to both of these characteristics, existing at the mercy of the web’s citizens while being subject to the perpetual circulation of opinions. It is for this reason that the virulent realm of opinion around MacKeeper exists and is widespread.

“Destroy that MacKeeper Install and Lose it Forever”

The vitriol around MacKeeper is no surprise. Users on forums frequently make the claim that it is dangerous and toxic software. A MacWorld thread has users advising others to “destroy” (source) their installs. This however doesn’t say much about the software and does little but recycle the rather persistent and empty rhetoric around MacKeeper. One is left asking the rather obvious question: “what does the evidence suggest?”

In a study of the software, Markus Tenghamn wrote a rather short review, one that is exclusively negative. In it, Tenghamn explains that the software was largely destructive, provide no tangible benefits that might offset any problems. To give you a better sense of this, I want to quote (at length) his conclusions:

I ran a system scan and found some issues, most seemed to be uncleared caches for programs and it seemed fine to let MacKeeper get rid of the almost 1 GB I had stored up over time. Right after that is when the problems started. All my fonts, about 500 or so, were gone and all my bookmarks, saved passwords and sessions were also missing. This got me pretty mad but I contacted support and asked them nicely if they could help me with the issue. They told me to restart my computer and that that would fix the issues. I didn’t see how it would help but I did and nothing changed. I got back with the same support guy and he would not respond now when I asked for more suggestions, a few other support guys seemed to join the session and finally someone gave me a 10 step guide on how I should duplicate the problem and record it with screenshots as well. They also needed a bunch of my log files and system info which I did not feel like sending this company. I checked the log files myself but they didn’t tell me much more than that my cache had been cleared for a bunch of programs.

Tenghamn, rightly so, was dismayed at the results of his test, suggesting that the issue wasn’t fixed sufficiently despite all his best efforts.

It’s Good and Bad!

Tenghamn’s review was quite harsh and indeed, it is not one that serves as the model for all others. This is certainly not a universally held opinion however. In their review, Lure of Mac presents a much more complete appraisal, concluding that in the face of competition and a reputation nightmare, MacKeeper was not worth the little that it could offer as a package. Lure of Mac though is certainly in the minority when it comes to critique, presenting itself as a much more restrained look at MacKeeper. Comparing their review to others, Lure of Mac refrains from calling it malware or a scam (something it notes as a problem), a descriptor that seems to circulate with relative and uncritical ease (see here for instance).

Not all the reviews elicit negative reactions. TheMacFeed concludes by simply stating that, “all-in-all, this is an excellent application, and well worth the low cost of $40.  It is packed with great features, and has a simple, intuitive interface.” Expectedly, this review elicited critique, which was addressed by the author in a follow up post (see here). In this follow up, the author does address some of the concerns that were made in response to the original post, presenting a much more ambivalent viewpoint about the application and the reputation that it carries with it. This seems to mirror the Mac Expert Guide review which both lauds and critiques the app, presenting a rather complicated picture. One wonders if this was an attempt to placate the masses while retaining some semblance of a review that lauds the software.

In short, reviews seem to span the rhetorical spectrum, ranging from polemical to rather positive. That said, one common fixture of the reviews is the conflation of the app itself and the marketing/advertising techniques of ZeoBIT (MacKeeper’s developer). Many reviewers are unable to differentiate the two and although the two should not be separated when doing a review, the marketing practices frequently come to be used as a tool to critique the application itself. Thus, most reviews seem to suggest that the application is bad because the marketing is, a proposition that doesn’t make much sense logically. Indeed, this is probably a nice example of a fallacy of relevance (for the philosophically inclined out there).

 

Results

What follows are the results and a discussion about my experiences with MacKeeper. While it would be easy to simply do a review of the reviews, I wanted to offer an up to date and more detailed analysis that separates the marketing practices from a review of the app itself. The problems of conflation (marketing/product) obscure the quality of the software in the reviews, making it hard to know what the software does or doesn’t do.

The Context

MacKeeper was installed on a clean OS X 10.8.3 install (inside of a Parallels virtual machine) with updates as of May 5th, 2013. Absolutely nothing was changed on the install except for the installation of the Parallels Tools and perhaps a few caches files created by opening Safari, navigating to the website and downloading MacKeeper. The virtual machine was setup with 1 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 64MB of VRAM. The host machine is my MacBook Pro (2.5Ghz i5, 8GB of RAM and 512 MB of VRAM).

The Beginning

Welcome to MacKeeper:

MacKeeper Default View

MacKeeper default view.

Shown above is the window that you’re greeted with when you first open MacKeeper. Rather uneventful, it’s organized in a clear fashion and it’s quite obvious from here how to use some of MacKeeper’s functionality. Since we have quite a few options, let’s begin with what I thought might be the most problematic function: “fast cleanup.”

Upon running it for the first time, I was told that MacKeeper could clean up nearly 500MB of data from my machine:

Fast Cleanup: Finding quite a bit for a clean install.

Fast Cleanup: Finding quite a bit for a clean install.

For a clean install, this would seem troublesome but upon closer inspection, the software doesn’t seem to be all that exceptional. The bulk of the data that’s slated for cleanup is extra languages, something that other software has built their reputation on (see Monolingual). What software packages such as Monolingual do that MacKeeper doesn’t (see here) do however is warn you of the negative consequences of doing this. While the review will not be testing the long term consequences of this (primarily because I don’t have Office installed in the VM or any affected Adobe software), the removal of language packs and its potential side effects are something worth considering.

The software also claimed to find duplicates which, upon testing, lived up to its claims. When I say “lived up”, I really mean that it didn’t find anything on a clean install. While this may not say much, it does suggest that it doesn’t pick up system files as duplicates of each other. In this way, the software doesn’t pick up system files as particularly damaging, something the hyperbole might imply is a problem.

The next piece of rather uneventful functionality was the disk usage functionality. MacKeeper reported “mostly” accurate folder sizes. For instance, it made the suggestion that my Library folder was 109.4 MB whereas OS X reported 114.5 MB. Small differences weren’t specific to that folder either – MacKeeper reported that my Downloads folder was 9.9 MB whereas OS X said that it was 10.2 MB. The small differences here are hardly significant and indeed, I’d suggest that they’re nothing more that minor differences in calculation methods. However, it would be interesting to see how much this differs on larger folders. It seems that MacKeeper reports sizes that are about 96-97% of what OS X reports. If that’s the case, the difference could be significant for larger folders. For example, my iTunes music folder is 29.44 GB. Assuming the math was consistent, MacKeeper would likely report it as being between 28.26 and 28.56 GB (this was not tested so please keep this in mind).

One piece of helpful functionality is what they’re calling “Smart Uninstaller” which is a utility designed to help remove any extraneous files that might have been created since an application was installed. I compared this to AppCleaner on my “regular” Mac install. While I don’t make the claim that AppCleaner is the metric against which all uninstallers should be measured, I did want to compare MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to something. For this test, I installed Tomahawk Music Player simply because it is something that has never been installed on my MBP or in the VM (the idea being that nothing would have influenced the results since it was new to both installs). As is the trend thus far, the results were rather unexceptional comparatively speaking. MacKeeper reported the following:

MacKeeper's Smart Uninstaller listing what files Tomahawk has created.

MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller listing what files Tomahawk has created.

For comparison, here is what AppCleaner wanted to delete:

AppCleaner working its magic on Tomahawk.

AppCleaner working its magic on Tomahawk.

The only differences between the two are the last three entries in AppCleaner which listed the disk image itself, a log file and a saved state. On the whole then, MacKeeper was adequate in its attempts comparatively speaking but by itself, it did a sufficient job in seeking files associated with the application.

At this point in the testing, I noticed that MacKeeper’s Fast Cleanup tool reported 97.5 MB of data that could be cleaned up. I was intrigued since I hadn’t done much so I looked at the list:

Fast Cleanup finding new files.

Fast Cleanup finding new files.

The helpd cache is an interesting listing. This daemon, responsible for Apple’s help system, seems to be generating a large cache. Why it was growing so quickly isn’t of direct interest but what is interesting is MacKeeper’s overzealous desire to clean. There’s little reason to clean what it suggests but this doesn’t appear to be harmful. At worst, deleting a cache may slow down your system while it gets regenerated but this shouldn’t detract from or impair normal system function.

One of the tools that might be of legitimate use is the file recovery functionality built into MacKeeper. During testing, I had deleted a variety of files including screenshots and installers. I ran the file recovery tool to see if it was able to find any of these files. Here is what MacKeeper listed as recoverable files:

MacKeeper has some odd suggestions for file recovery.

MacKeeper has some odd suggestions for file recovery.

Most of what MacKeeper listed a recoverable files remains a mystery to me. A random collection of plist and xml files with no context would be utterly confusing to a new user and baffling at best for more advanced users. Given that the files are simply numbered and not described in any way, the file recovery functionality offers no useful functionality. While it might be able to recover these files, the total absence of anything useful renders the value of this tool questionable.

Beyond the collection of tools discussed here, most of the functionality provided duplicates features and services offered elsewhere (and for free). The internet security services, a fancy name for anti-virus, is included but likely of little use. While the role of anti-virus on a Mac can be argued for days on end, little suggests that this is any better than a free product or, simply, common sense. The anti-theft service duplicates Apple’s elegant Find My Mac feature which is not only built into OS X but is free. MacKeeper also comes with encryption functionality which appears to do nothing that an encrypted disk image or FileVault can’t. The shredder, a tool designed to permanently and securely erase files, is something Apple has built into OS X (think of the secure erase functionality). The backup tool is yet another feature that duplicates built in tools (Time Machine) or well respected third party solutions (Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper). ZeoDisk, MacKeeper’s sync service, replicates functionality that can be found in a plethora of free tools including, but not limited to, iCloud, Google’s varied services, Dropbox and so on. Beyond being free, those tools, like the aforementioned backup solutions, are well tested and respected in the Mac community. It’s also worth noting that ZeoDisk is not yet available, which puts it behind other tools that have already built up a reputation and user base. Next, the update tracker does what AppFresh has done for years. While AppFresh is $15 on its own and thus expensive in relation (compared to MacKeeper’s $40 price tag for a collection of tools), AppFresh exists as only one tool focused on one task (something many people like) and serves as a complement to the Mac App Store, itself free and quite efficient at maintaining/upgrading the apps on your machine. Perhaps the most useless tools though are the login items and default apps tools, both of which not only replicate functionality in OS X but offer nothing beyond what the built in tools do (is it really possible to make default file associations more efficient or interesting?).

Uninstallation

Although not normally an area worthy of inquiry, a fair number of complaints levied against MacKeeper focus on the ways in which it burrows into the system and refuses to go away. Before beginning, I decided to see if there were official uninstallation instructions (the app doesn’t come with an uninstaller). A quick search in Google lead me to these which I decided to follow. According to the instructions, removal of MacKeeper follows the familiar template – drag it to the Trash and voila. Upon doing so, I was greeted with the following:

The popup when dragged to the trash.

The popup when dragged to the trash.

Interestingly, the application seems to be aware of its placement in the trash, something I had never seen before. This was a nice change from other applications that scatter files across the filesystem since it seemed to suggest that it would remove all relevant files. I clicked the “Uninstall MacKeeper” button and was subsequently informed that it was done. With some anticipation, I opened the trash expecting to find the main MacKeeper application package and an assortment of other related files. However, I noticed that only the main application bundle was in the trash. What then was this uninstallation screen for? Your guess is as good as mine.

Review Conclusion

MacKeeper is an interesting application but not because of its functionality. Instead, much of the hype and dislike appears to be based on a reputation that lingers in a Mac using community that prides itself on effective and functional design. The reputation that MacKeeper carries with it is one that suggests that not only is it not effective or functional but that it is also parasitic in nature. Contrary to the latter, I didn’t find it to be obtrusive or overly dominating. However, in relation to the functionality and effectiveness, MacKeeper is utterly useless amidst a whole collection of free and reputable tools that do the job just as well if not better. For $40, one would expect an application to excel if it has to compete with the ever lucrative price of nothing. MacKeeper fails in this regard, bringing nothing to the table that can’t be had by using other products. The Lure of Mac review echoes this conclusion, noting that, “some of the modules seem to be superfluous or redundant.” On top of that, some of the functionality is fundamentally flawed. The recovery tool is a joke and the Fast Cleanup feature is confusing. Complementing this is a collection of tools that unabashedly replicate built in functionality while offering nothing new in return for the $40 price tag.

Suffice it to say, I’ve come to a very different set of conclusions relative to those that come to dominate discussions of the tool. Unlike many others, I didn’t have any problems with the installation or performance of the app itself. In fact, in that regard, it doesn’t behave differently than most other applications. However, in no way can a price tag of $40 be justified for a product whose functionality is either questionable or available for free elsewhere. I understand that there is a particular allure to having all the tools in one convenient spot but when none of them are all that good or better than competitors, the value of one cohesive product loses its lustre.

 

MacKeeper, Mac-Forums and the Ongoing Debate

This blog post, in part, was driven by a continued sense of ambivalence amongst many members of the Mac-Forums community with regards to MacKeeper. The software has a fairly contentious reputation amongst many of the established members in the community who frequently discuss this problem with new (and often confused) members. While I may disagree with some of these critiques in relation to the functionality, the overtly negative view of ZeoBIT’s marketing and advertising does mean that they are valid subjects of censure.

While I may have bracketed off the marketing practices earlier to privilege the application, one cannot reasonably separate the two. ZeoBIT has earned a particular reputation in the Mac community and as many of us know, marketing is inherently about building a particular reputation. Whether or not ZeoBIT has questionable marketing practices, the circulation of an opinion about said practices is what matters most (however separate this might be from the application itself). While this may be the case, contentious marketing practices do serve as a reflection of the company itself…if warranted. That sense of hesitation is one that comes with experience – questions around MacKeeper’s marketing practices fail to provide any proof of said practices. While some people may suggest that MacKeeper’s advertisements are intrusive, one has to remember two things. First, most ads online are delivered by third parties, not the company itself. Second, intrusion is a huge part of web browsing these days. Install Ghostery in your browser of choice (Firefox and Chrome at least) and watch it report back every embedded connection on a page.

Does any of this justify ZeoBIT’s practices? No but is what they do all that different than, let’s say, Facebook? Facebook, for example, gets loaded on just about every page on the Internet these days and yet, there’s little push back. Google, in some form, gets loaded on just about every page (Google Analytics alone is worthy of mention) and yet, they escape critique rather unscathed. While the problems are of a different nature, one has to ask, “why do certain people/companies escape censure while others get the brunt of a large and vocal community’s critique?” This is not to justify ZeoBIT’s past or present practices but rather, this serves to contextualize it.

While this might appear to be a defence of ZeoBIT, I think it’s worth acknowledging the valid critiques (here). Some people have made particular (and technical) arguments about the practices of the company, ones that don’t magically disappear with time. If history teaches us anything, it’s that history lives on in the present. Even if ZeoBIT reforms its practices, it still engaged in them at some point, a practice that left (and continues to leave) a sour taste in the mouths of those in the Mac community.

If it sounds like I’m ambivalent about the situation, you’ve come to learn of my struggle in writing this section. ZeoBIT’s presence on the web is enigmatic, existing in relation to a Mac community that frequently yells out “heathen!” Trying to glean from this a clear picture is difficult and because of this, I think it’s worth further investigation before I make any sort of definitive claim.

I have one final comment, one that is specific to this community. As many of you have noticed, MacKeeper ads appear on Mac-Forums (see here, here for discussions about this topic). Mentioned above was the existence of third party advertising companies who are responsible for much of the advertising online. These third parties are ultimately the groups responsible for advertising on Mac-Forums. Consequently, Mac-Forums does not have a direct relationship with MacKeeper. At best, it’s indirect and in a more (perhaps) accurate sense, it doesn’t exist at all. Think of it this way – MacKeeper advertisements appearing on Mac-Forums is akin to abrasive or offensive ads appearing in a city. One does not suggest that the city condones or supports the content of the ads, much like many of us don’t support MacKeeper. Secondly, given that ZeoBIT has managed, successfully, to build up clout within the Mac community (the quality of such reputation aside), it is almost impossible for these ads not to appear. Like much in life, the best way to approach things is not to ignore it but to contest it. Don’t like MacKeeper? Critique it and, if need be, feel free to defer to this blog post.

Conclusion

It’s hard to find another piece of software that generates so much confusion and anger. Many of the comments made about the software play on the marketing practices of the company ZeoBIT, a set of critiques that are not only justifiable but warranted in a community that more and more is defined not by its veterans but by people new to the Apple ecosystem. Beyond the dubious veneer that is the advertising however, the product itself manages to hold its own. While the application has faults and is not really worth the price tag, it hardly exists as that digital parasite that persistent efforts of demonization have made it out to be. Is it worth the $40? Absolutely not. Does it offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere? Not even close. Is it a scourge that need to be banished from the web? Hardly. And herein lies the essence of the application itself – it might be questionable in terms of efficacy but it’s not intrinsically evil.

Despite presenting some sort of defence of the application, this conclusion, one that suggests that the app “just isn’t worth it,” does not shield it from the practices of the company. While I worked to separate the company from the product (to give the product a fair trial), it is ultimately tied back to a company that has a questionable reputation. Does this justify a criticism of the app itself? No. Does this justify a set of critiques against MacKeeper in relation to its developers? Perhaps. Consequently, while I want to conclude that the app itself isn’t overly terrible, its indelible connection to a questionable company and its inflated price tag makes it not only an unattractive package but one that should indeed be avoided.

51 Comments: 

  1. harryb2448's Avatar
    Read it and agree with 'should be avoided'.
  2. Stretch's Avatar
    Yeah, I still think its a very questionable app. Especially since there are free alternatives that are known to be solid choices (Onyx).
  3. chscag's Avatar
    Completely agree. Although I did not test it quite as thoroughly as Van did, what I did test does agree with his findings.

    BTW, great write up Van!
  4. pigoo3's Avatar
    Great writeup Van...very detailed!

    I'm not so surprised to hear you say that MacKeeper wasn't really worth the money (with equally as good or better free programs out there).

    I am a little surprised to hear that you didn't experience any performance issues...since many folks seem to experience computer slowdowns. Maybe this is because you tested MacKeeper on a newer faster computer...and maybe the folks that experience performance issues...have slower/older computers. Just a thought.

    Again...great writeup!

    - Nick
  5. Lifeisabeach's Avatar
    Allow me to point out a test I did on MacKeeper's "File Recovery" feature. In a nutshell... it sucks.
    http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/app...ml#post1427243

    And some observations about its "encryption" module. What they do seems pretty comical. In fact, vansmith's observation that "MacKeeper also comes with encryption functionality which appears to do nothing that an encrypted disk image or FileVault can’t" is on the money. That functionality is in fact an encrypted disk image... exactly what Disk Utility makes. I'd wager that their module is little more than a script that runs the command line version of Disk Utility.
    http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/app...ml#post1430512
  6. Lifeisabeach's Avatar
    I think MacKeeper has improved in some aspects from a performance standpoint. Their AV module used to be a Windows program running under WINE. That alone had to be its biggest performance headache. Of course, who knows if what they use now is even working.

    BTW, I concur. Great writeup!
  7. vansmith's Avatar
    Thanks guys!
    That could certainly be it. I imagine part of it might have been due to the "freshness" of the machine - it was a clean install and it wasn't used outside of the MK tests. In some ways, I think this helps MK in terms of its performance but I can't be certain.

    Yeah, I remember sitting there thinking, "why would I care about these random plists & xml files and not the files I just deleted?"

    It's very possible that's what they're doing. There's something to be said for wrapping up complexity in a neat little package but not for $40.
  8. cwa107's Avatar
    This is easily one of the best evaluations I've ever seen of a controversial product. Very well done.

    So, in short, while this piece of crap is fairly useless and expensive, at the very least, it has proven to no longer be damaging.
  9. vansmith's Avatar
    Thanks!
    That's a nice distilled version of the argument - it's expensive and redundant but it doesn't appear to suck as bad as it used to.
  10. Lifeisabeach's Avatar
    I agree. I don't think I ever thought the software was downright malicious or the developers anything but well-intentioned (sleaziness of their marketing not withstanding). I just think they are lazy and even incompetent. Their file recovery feature alone is evidence of that.

    What may be useful as a companion article to this one is a feature-by-feature comparison of MacKeeper's features to alternatives from other developers to see who does it best, complete with a cost breakdown.
  11. vansmith's Avatar
    That could certainly be a "round two." It's not hard to find functional complements - much of what MacKeeper does is done elsewhere (for free most of the time). I'll have to think about that.

    EDIT: I added a short paragraph addressing the forum's position in relation to the app. I also fixed some grammar errors that disappointed me.
  12. harryb2448's Avatar
    Great post van!
  13. Lifeisabeach's Avatar
    The problem with their marketing isn't their banner ads. It's that they have had numerous fake websites purporting to compare their product to the competition, then declare theirs the winner. It's the internet's version of infomercials. They have spammed these and other forums with fake inquiries about the software, followed by faked praise. At least, that's the take I had considering that the posters in question both had accounts created the same day with no other history here. Facebook doesn't do anything like that. In all fairness, I have read that they claim those things were all being done by their 3rd party affiliates, but ultimately it does come back to them and their decision to leave their reputation and fate in the hands of affiliate program partners. It does appear that they may have reigned in this sort of thing... I can't currently find any fake review sites.
  14. vansmith's Avatar
    The Facebook/Google juxtaposition wasn't to suggest that they were of a similar type but rather to suggest that certain groups seem to be subjected to the heavy hand of the "Mac users community" (broadly speaking) while other groups seem to elude it unscathed. My question of more of a "why them" and not others equitably?

    The third party affiliates things in tricky in that blame is easily displaced. Who gets blamed with third party ads? Everyone, eventually. ZeoBIT certainly could do something to ease up on the number of ads though which is very much their responsibility.
  15. TattooedMac's Avatar
    Nice write up there Van. I suppose we will never know of the grammar errors you weren't happy with will we ?? Hahah
    Very good test there i see, so i suppose its by by to Main Menu and HELLO MacKeeper

    @Lifeisabeach, kudos to you too mate and the write up you did, was a enjoyable read as well.

    Personally, i will be still telling people to stay away from it and look elsewhere for a better solution
  16. chscag's Avatar
    LOL, just got another promotional eMail from ZeoBIT this morning. 70% off their Pro MacKeeper package. But hurry up, only good until July 31st!

    I'm waiting for their 90% discount offer before I buy.
  17. vansmith's Avatar
    Think big - wait until they offer it for free.

    TM, you're right to make suggestions for alternatives. While MK doesn't seem to be terrible from a technical standpoint, the $40 price tag just about makes it useless.
  18. TattooedMac's Avatar
    Come on Charlie, its only $12, and im sure you have paid that for a Magazine of some sort in your time...... Don't wait, buy now, as i have inside info the stock market is going down too
  19. Banjo2010's Avatar
    I have read Vansmith's review and noted the following 18 posts with interest. I had bought Mackeeper in good faith that MacWorld favoured it and it was kosher. I was nervous about the rising tide of hackers even against Macs.
    I installed MacKeeper and then was advised by a member of staff in an Apple store that it was not recommended by Apple and I should take it off as it cluttered the operation of my iMac! Microsoft Security Essentials was free for my Parallels on the same iMac which Apple also recommended should be deleted! If I translate my payment of $41.94 at today's rate it cost me $63! Has anyone heard if downloads are refunded?!
  20. cwa107's Avatar
    Hate to say it, but I don't think ZeoBit has any kind of return policy. To be frank - if they did, they probably wouldn't be in business today.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with Parallels, or Microsoft's Security Essentials. MSE is not the most robust AV suite on the market, but for the price (free), it's serviceable. If you need an AV suite that behaves as a nanny, because you don't trust yourself to practice safe computing, then look elsewhere. Parallels is a great solution for running Windows on your Mac and will not clutter it up in any appreciable way - in fact, it's probably the most efficient way to run it.
  21. MacDude121's Avatar
    Impressive, it's great trying to spread the word to unsuspecting Mac users that it should not be purchased, and most importantly, WHY, based on real tests and analysis. Nice work!
  22. SailingCyclops's Avatar
    You did a fine job of reviewing Mac Keeper, thanks! I have one and only one issue with your piece, and that is your separation of marketing from performance.

    For me, ZeoBit's marketing practices are akin to a snake-oil salesman, selling a useless product using fear and hype. It speaks loudly to trust. While the snake oil may not be harmful, how can one ever trust it to be so? I can not separate the two, for me how something is presented speaks volumes about it's performance.

    I have been blasted by MacKeeper ads. Not small tabs like you see from Facebook or other social media sites, but full-screen new browser windows claiming my Mac is in mortal peril. These sorts of intrusive and dishonest attacks make me totally distrust the company and everything it touches. If they are dishonest in their advertising, why would I expect them to be honest with their software?

    I also found your description of the un-install process to be a bit troubling. Not much in the trash? Why? What did this software leave behind? How did it communicate the reason for the un-install to Zeobit after you dragged the app to the trash? You mentioned you had never seen that before; I find that very troubling in itself.

    Again, thanks for the blog post. It confirmed to me what I have come to believe after doing a cursory online investigation of MacKeeper. Useless snake oil, which may be harmful in the long run -- something useless to avoid.
  23. Rod Sprague's Avatar
    Great and impartial review, my primary complaint has already been aired and that is in regard to the invasive and powerful advertising campaign which invades so many reputable pages I visit. If this app were half as good as it claims to be this no doubt costly advertising would be unnecessary. It has been my experience that as a community we Mac users are very good at reviewing and promoting apps that do what they claim, are reasonable value and easy to use.
  24. Exodist's Avatar
    Nice write up Van. Only one question, did you happen to test any network activity coming from MacKeepers or associated files? Very curious if it reports any statistical user information back to the company.

    - Joe
  25. vansmith's Avatar
    No I didn't but as I mentioned, I don't actually think the app is pernicious or shady (it just duplicates functionality and charges for it).
  26. Exodist's Avatar
    Gotcha..
  27. VAMountaineer's Avatar

    good statement.

    Please remember folks, that the attitudes displayed here (those who are all too happy to go jump on the witch-hunt bandwagon against this application) are the very reason there are not MORE Mac Apps.

    Mackeeper is simply a piece of software which does certain things.. There are comparable packages which you can get for free and do the same for less (or free). BUT those other packages may (or may not) have a nice easy-to-use interface....

    BUT, the folks who wrote that MacKeeper already know that MOST Mac people are gullible and have more money than good sense.. So why shouldn't they create an app which capitalises on that? Face it, you didn't buy your Mac because it's the cheapest thing on the market. So what if you buy a $40 app when you could've done the same for free?

    Does it make them somehow evil for offering an app for sale? Let the market decide for itself, rather than participating in this fishbowl mentality driven by keyboard ninjas, whereby the "collective" has decided they're evil. That mindset holds about as much scientific intelligence as the theory of man-made global warming, it is stupidity in motion. Do NOT be driven by hype or opinion - please consider the actual facts before you form conclusions.

    Would I buy MacKeeper??? no. But I also happen to write terminal scripts by the hour, so I've already got a half-dozen concoctions to keep my Mac clean, fast, and relatively like-new..

    Would I accept the word of a Mac "Genius" who tells me "Apple doesn't recommend it, so you should remove it"??? hell no. Based on my own real-world experience with Apple "geniuses", i wouldn't trust them to the proper use of toilet paper. And I mean that sincerely. They are there to sell you new Macs, NOT to help you fix your old Mac. never forget that. The Apple store staff are HIGHLY trained salesmen.


    Why are MacKeeper ads "everywhere"??

    I really suspect that the recent up-surge of ads is due to the acquisition of the package earlier this year by Kromtech Alliance, and they're looking to get their investment back out of it.

    The deeper answer to this is simple.. Google ads. They drop a cookie on your Mac, follow where you'e been, find what your interests are, and then advertise to you. it's stupidly simple. If you're unsure of how this works, just go to say Amazon, browse thru an area of products you'd otherwise not look at, then give a few minutes... soon, you'll start seeing ads targeted directly at those same product sales that you previously browsed on Amazon. It's a simple and effective process.. And the Kromtech/ZeoBits folks hired Google to do it for them. Thy're not spamming you anymore than Google is... If you see a boogie-man, congratulations--google has been behind the curtain spamming you for 5yrs..

    They've got a 2 week trial version, so (IMHO) let the user see for himself if it's worthwhile. personally, I've got no need for it, as I write my own scripts and do my own HDD cleanup.. but that's not for everyone--some of my clients are fearful of 'freeware', so they'd rather have something like this than say onyx or another app... After all, they're Mac users, already gullible and willing to pay the Apple tax. what's a few bucks more??
  28. SheDevils's Avatar
    Dad's been a Mac User Since 1990, now being said from numerous users and friends using this particular software, well all he said was don't install it. Trust me LOL .. figured i wouldn't and actually i did, and fan started as if i never heard the fan run in turbo mode. Dad said something to do with background processing. Just a word of advise i guess. I deleted it, dad said it's not fully deleted. So i had to reformat everything. Great ...
  29. chscag's Avatar
    Welcome to the Mac Forums. And it looks like Father knows best!
  30. RadDave's Avatar
    Just was going through the last posts in this thread and my very thoughts!

    I was just going to post the pic below w/o comment - Dave

  31. Cindy 121's Avatar
    I'm new to Macs, having bought in 2011.
    That's also when I started reading Mac-Forums.

    My trust in this forum is lessened by the continual presence of MacKeeper ads.
    The 'review', while well done, was unconvincing and did little to restore my trust in this forum.
    I accepted MacKeeper because of its proximity to this trusted forum.
    I now routinely avoid sites with these ads, which is why I am posting so tardily here.
    I will not be so trusting here again.
  32. chscag's Avatar
    Sorry about your decision Cindy, however, as has been pointed out in the past we have no control over what advertisements appear on this web site. Certainly if we approved of MacKeeper, we would not have gone through the trouble of putting it to the tests that we did. The blog clearly points all of that out.
  33. TattooedMac's Avatar
    Well Cindy, if you have been reading these forums since 2011, then you would know, even though there is a Blog on MK, that the majority of the Members here warn everyone to STAY AWAY from it.
    Its a real shame that you can judge a whole community, on a single blog post, and one that was very fair and reasonable.
    We need to keep the forums going, and although we are all volunteers, including the staff and Admin here, it needs some sort of income, and unfortunately this comes from Advertising. If people want to pay for space they get it. Who are we to judge about who can and can't.
    If you have been reading the forums since 2011, you would know that MK is piece of crap, and you need to put the onus on yourself, and do a little background work, before you blame others.
  34. docx's Avatar
    Couldn't agree more.
  35. benrymnd's Avatar
    Be very aware of this software I had it installed and used it for about a month then I saw for the first time a heading called left overs(I think)any way went into this and it seemed like it was bits and pieces from uninstalled software asked if I wanted to remove them clicked yes,oh what a fool I was, after shut down later in the day my mac would not re-start to cut short apple took my mac away and informed me that a new hd was needed as they couldn't get it to re-start/boot up.I was very lucky as I still had 2 weeks left on my apple care.
  36. cwa107's Avatar
    As much as I loathe MacKeeper, chances are this was pure coincidence. Generally speaking, software issues do not cause hardware problems. If your hard drive truly was faulty, it would have failed to boot regardless of whether MacKeeper was installed or not.

    Though I agree with your overall sentiment - MacKeeper is rubbish.
  37. kashasart's Avatar
    what do u all think of Clean my Mac 2?
    would love to see article clearly comparing programs that do provide same services
    --with short explanation of what the action does for my mac---& where to get it
    that article was well written, fair, & informative on many levels. thanks
  38. cwa107's Avatar
    It's another largely unnecessary program, marketed in an unscrupulous manner and which essentially performs the same tasks that are better done with freeware programs like Onyx.
  39. bobtomay's Avatar
  40. Cindy 121's Avatar
    You are quite right, TattooedMac. I was just pissed off at myself for not doing my homework BEFORE I installed MacKeeper. It's not this Forum's fault, and I apologize. Sometimes I feel like I have a bit of Microsoft software in my head. No excuse.
    This Forum is too important, and too much fun, for me to stay away.
    Your indulgence is asked for. My hissy-fit is over. C.
  41. TattooedMac's Avatar
    Ahh ok. Understood and thanks for explaining. I was a little harsh, but i'm a little protective of my 3rd home, and people putting blame where its un-warranted.
    Glad Miss HissyFit is ova
  42. Cyndy-in-VT's Avatar
    I have a 2008 refurbished 24" iMac. It has been a jewel of a machine, software problems excluded. The only time it has been taken to the apple repair guys was due to software conflicts and other problems created by my ignorant installation of MacKeeper (2012).
    A knowledgeable repairman went through our mac and thoroughly cleaned it of all traces of MacKeeper, then made sure all of the updates were installed properly. It has worked very well since then. Now I research THOROUGHLY any new software I'm interested in buying, then research it some more before finally deciding. In my humble opinion, less is more.
    If you don't need it A LOT, don't buy it and don't risk creating problems. Dealing with OS updates is difficult enough.
  43. Rod Sprague's Avatar
    Cyndy, I agree 100%. Less is definitely more when it comes to 3rd party applications.
  44. Robtowmac's Avatar
    I saw Onyx was mentioned above. Has any forum member had a problem with this application?
  45. bobtomay's Avatar
    No, that is why we recommend Onyx.

    It has been recommended here since before I got my first Mac.
    You can see that date to the left.
    Have yet to see a single issue reported.

    (Other than folks downloading the wrong version or Gatekeeper preventing it's installation.)

    Oh, and get it direct from Titanium to make sure you get the correct version.

    There are a very few paid apps also recommended such as Cocktail.
  46. michaelayres's Avatar
    I could hardly add anything worth much to the expert discussions. But, I tried MacKeeper, took it off, put it back, and finally divorced it in full, basically for one reason, you cannot turn it off and on, once installed, it always runs "because it has to talk with the mother ship." But, that doesn't work for me; I don't want any software beyond the OS I install on my machine that I can't stop or start as I wish.
  47. harryb2448's Avatar
    Don't call it software Michael. It is crapware!
  48. Rod Sprague's Avatar
    Good for you Michael. I recently called on a friend who was having a few problems with her 2009 MBP, after a little housekeeping I noted the dreaded icon on the tool bar and asked her how long she had been using MacKeeper. She didn't know what it was what it did or where it had come from! It seems her son may have installed it for her. I removed it and since doing that she reports her MBP seems to be running a lot faster on startup (she does only have 2gb RAM). As far as I can see the only good thing MacKeeper does is uninstall itself.
  49. ankhseeker's Avatar
    On a positive note:

    At least they gave me my money back!
  50. Slydude's Avatar
    That's good news.
  51. DaSvenska's Avatar
    After reading and absorbing this discussion, I assume other TPSoftware may be bad as well. I have seen other reviews on some that I was using and since I enjoy my MBP Retina so much, I elected to take them off and let Mavericks take care of my 512SSD. That said, since I removed several of them, and I won't name them here, would it be wise for me to reinstall the OS of Mountain Lion and do the upgrades of Mavericks, etc... I have not experienced any issues with my MBP and it runs fine, I guess I could wait on the release of Yosemite and go from there. Any advice from you with much more OSX time than me, will no doubt be appreciated.
Leave a Comment