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Member Since: Sep 30, 2007
Location: Wilmington, NC
Posts: 7,584
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Mac Specs: iMac i3 (mid-2010) + OS 10.10; iPhone 5S; iPad Air 2

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I decided to re-try MacKeeper for kicks. It's been some time since I last tried it, and last I read, the AV component was now "Mac-native" in particular. So maybe they've really tried to improve the software in general.

So anywho… I worked on this from a second installation I have of OS X on my iMac. It's a virgin copy of OS X, fully updated to 10.7.4, with no 3rd party software loading up and only a few utilities on the partition available if I need them. Basically… this is as pristine and untainted an environment as possible to give MK a chance to work well. I do have a single folder at the root level of that partition for temporary use while in my usual primary partition, but that would have no impact on the OS installed there.

Near the end of installation, I got repeated errors that the helper app couldn't be installed, due to maybe a permissions problem. I continued to get the same error every time I re-ran MK. Repairing permissions, running various utilities, all failed to solve this error. I have no idea why I am getting it. I shouldn't be. At all. Like I said, everything on this partition is as kosher as it gets.

So I look over the AV software. It doesn't appear to be running under WINE anymore, so that's something. I haven't delved much further yet, and likely won't. I can't really test its effectiveness anyway without downloading actual malware.

So next I try the file recovery feature. It's supposed to look for files that have been deleted, but may still be recoverable. I copied a video file off my media drive to my Desktop, then trashed the copy from my Desktop and emptied the trash. Then I ran the file recovery module. MacKeeper completely failed to find that file. What it did find were a whole bunch of other videos and some XML files. Of the videos it found, there were a couple dozen that were all exactly 1.9 GB in size… each one. The others were much smaller… something like 35 MB, and all identical. As it turns out, all the 1.9 GB videos were all really the same file… a 720p episode of Walking Dead I had purchased off the iTunes Store some time back and recently replaced with 1080p versions. The old copies were stored temporarily on that partition while I re-downloaded the new ones. The other episodes should have been discoverable if this one was, but they weren't found. These "recovered" videos were unplayable despite recovery, although some metadata was readable.

So next I run a different piece of software… Disk Drill. This piece of software is dedicated to finding deleted files that may be recoverable. It promptly found the movie I had added to the Desktop and subsequently deleted. The one that MacKeeper couldn't find. It's also finding a MASSIVE number of files that may be recoverable (it's still running actually). Not dozens of copies of a single file (that never existed as dozens of copies to begin with) but numerous files of various types and sizes, in folders across the partition. MacKeeper only found 2 videos, listed those repeatedly as separate files, and a couple XML files, which were also listed repeatedly as separate files.

Just to be clear: MacKeeper "found" exactly 4 files, but listed each of those dozens of times with different "generic" names consisting of a series of numbers. The inability to determine the exact name is not unusual, I should add. In other file recovery software, the correct name is typically discoverable only if the file was very recently deleted. Disk Drill found the video that I had deleted off the Desktop, complete with the video's proper name. MK couldn't even find that particular video, which should have been the single most recoverable file.

So in summary:
  • MacKeeper was completely unable to find a video deleted mere minutes before I asked it to look for deleted files. Disk Drill found it immediately.
  • MacKeeper listed a couple different long-deleted videos as recoverable, but listed them a couple dozen times each as if it had found a few dozen different videos. Disk Drill legitimately found dozens of long-deleted videos, and far more other types of files than MacKeeper. A few thousand files in total actually (many of which are log and other temporary files). Disk Drill didn't present me with numerous "copies" of the same file.
  • The videos recovered by MacKeeper aren't even playable. To be fair, I didn't try to recover the files with Disk Drill since I'm running it in trial mode… recovery requires payment and I didn't really need to. I don't realistically expect it could have recovered everything it found… that's just the nature of this type of task. But its hits were more accurate and complete BY FAR!

This is just one of MacKeeper's modules and already it is one huge FAIL! I haven't had a chance to look at any of the other modules more in depth, but it's not looking good at all. Even if some of the other modules do work, MacKeeper is already demonstrably incompetent at least in part, and there's nothing it does that can't be had for less or for free in more competent apps.

EDIT: I'm just going to add some supporting screen caps of my testing. Firstly, here's part of MacKeeper's list. I'm showing the middle of the list, but as can be seen, there are a large number of .mov files that are exactly 1.9 GB in size. All the ones higher in the list are the same size, and apparently the same file judging from a few I recovered. There were actually several dozen copies of this one in total. There were more files below the bottom of the screen cap… all XML files and mostly duplicates of the ones seen. There were a couple other smaller sizes with many duplicates. About 5 unique files in total were really what was found.


This screen cap is of Disk Drill's quick scan. There's only one hit, which is expected. The quick scan only finds very recently deleted files with a matching name. MacKeeper never found this file, which, as I said, should have been the most discoverable and recoverable one. Disk Drill did let me "preview" this file using QuickLook. It is very much intact and recoverable. If MacKeeper had found this file, it should have been sandwiched in the middle of the list in the prior screen shot, which was sorted by file size.


This screen cap shows Disk Drill's deep scan results. It's actually still scanning at this point, so the results aren't complete, but the screen cap speaks for itself. Thousands more files… unique files… and the few I tested with Quick Look showed they were intact and indeed recoverable.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
Links: Onyx | EasyFind | Apple Hardware Test | How to test your hard drive | The Safe Mac Adware Removal Guide | Uninstall MacKeeper
Lifeisabeach - Mac-Forums Member of the Month June 2009, Feb 2012, and March 2013.
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