Is MacKeeper Really A Scam?

Is MacKeeper Really A Scam?

MacKeeper gets a bad rap, but what's really behind the controversy?

MacKeeper is a strange piece of software. There may be no other app as controversial in the Apple world. The application, which performs various janitorial duties on your hard drive, is loathed by a large segment of the Mac community. Check out any blog, site or forum that mentions it, and you’ll find hundreds of furious comments condemning MacKeeper and Zeobit, the company behind it. We discovered this ourselves earlier this month, when we offered a 50%-off deal on MacKeeper. Look at all those furious comments on the post.

The complaints about MacKeeper are all over the shop: It’s a virus. It holds your machine hostage until you pay up. It can’t be completely removed if you decide to delete it. Instead of speeding up your computer, it slows it down. It erases your hard drive, deletes photos, and disappears documents. There are protests about MacKeeper’s annual subscription fees. Zeobit is slammed for seedy marketing tactics. It runs pop-under ads, plants sock-puppet reviews and encourages sleazy affiliate sites, critics say.

But what’s really strange is that MacKeeper has been almost universally praised by professional reviewers. All week I’ve been checking out reviews on the Web and I can’t find a bad one.

All the reviews praise the software for being well designed and easy to use. Macworld magazine calls it “a gem.” TUAW gives it a favorable review. Dave Hamilton of Backbeat Media, a Mac industry veteran, recently talked it up at Macworld Expo. None of the professional reviewers complain of slowed-down machines or deleted data.

Given the comments on our deals post, I started researching Zeobit and MacKeeper. (Our deals, by the way, are determined by our partners, StackSocial.) I was alarmed that Cult of Mac might be promoting malware, but quickly became curious why such well-reviewed software gets such bad reviews from users. I reached out to Zeobit and Symantec, which publishes anti-virus and security software under the Norton brand.

Jeremiah Fowler, Zeobit’s PR Director, said Mac security companies get a bad rap because Apple users generally believe there is no need for anti-virus products. The Mac is immune to malware, according to users, and therefore any company that sells security software is by definition a scam.

“I personally believe it is just the nature of the business in the age of internet trolling and it is so easy for anyone with too much time on their hands to trash businesses or products online anonymously and with no repercussions,” he wrote in an email. “We have 150 employees and really do care about the products we make and the people who use them.”

Symantec’s Mac Product Manager, Mike Romo, said the same thing: the company is criticized for the very idea of selling security products for the Mac. Users think they are utterly unnecessary and ruin the frictionless experience of OS X. “It’s a great community but it’s very vocal,” Romo said in a telephone interview. “It would be a lot easier to make a painting program or something.”

Romo, who describes himself as a hard-core Mac user, said users voice similar complaints to those heard by Zeobit. However, he says the criticisms are like an urban myth — they are based on rumor and hearsay. “I ask them if they have used our product,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, they have not.”

“We’re used to getting the hate,” he added,” but we love and believe in what we are doing.”

Zeobit’s Fowler said the company has become a “forum punching bag” thanks to four things: a negative PR campaign from a rival company; Zeobit’s aggressive advertising tactics; out-of-control affiliates; and confusion among users between MacKeeper (legit software) and MacDefender (a Trojan). (See Fowler’s full note below.)

While looking into Zeobit last week, I came to some of these same conclusions myself. Zeobit has earned a lot of notoriety for its advertising practices. It’s a very active and aggressive marketer. It runs online ads everywhere, including sneaky pop-unders. It parades scantily-clad booth babes at Macworld. The company also runs an affiliate program that appears to be widely abused. According to Fowler, the sleaziest Zeobit marketing comes from third parties that it has no control over.

Some of the wilder accusations — that Zeobit is a hacker outfit that makes an insidious virus — are way off. The company was one of the sponsors of Macworld, which is as mainstream as a trade show gets. Apple sells a lite version of MacKeeper called 911 Bundle through the official Mac App Store, which is carefully vetted for malware.

Likewise, Cult of Mac does not offer malware through our Deals program. As far as I can tell, MacKeeper is a legit piece of software run by a company whose sales and marketing tactics rub many in the Mac community the wrong way. It may not be for everyone, but MacKeeper is not a virus or a scam. And right now, it’s 50% off ;-).

Here’s is MacKeeper’s PR Director Jeremiah Fowler’s full statement to Cult of Mac:

++

Hello Leander,

Thanks for your message and I will be happy to contact a 3rd party user about speaking with you. With the bad comments we are all too aware of them and they actually fall under a few different categories of why people are anti-MacKeeper. Just to give you an idea of what we face on a daily basis, here is a short breakdown of the key reasons people complain.

Also, as a general rule look at some of the other companies who are in the business of Mac security and see the search results for example if you search Google for norton+mac+sucks you will get about 18,700,000 results… We know that Norton is not a bad company, right? You may not like them or their products but you know they are not scammers and their software is not malware, but the internet is loaded with thousands of results saying the opposite. The results are the almost the same for nearly every industry leading software that offers Mac Security. I personally believe it is just the nature of the business in the age of “Internet Trolling” and it is so easy for anyone with too much time on their hands to trash businesses or products online anonymously and with no repercussions. We have 150 employees and really do care about the products we make and the people who use them. You can see some of our real customers and industry professionals talking about MacKeeper on our YouTube Channel here.

Reasons:

1) Black PR

We were the victim of a massive black PR campaign by a small competitor who is now cloning our apps one at a time:
The story was featured here: EXCLUSIVE: MacKeeper Says “Unethical Competitor Trying to Tarnish Our Reputation”

These guys were running Google ads saying we were scammers selling malware and anything else bad that they could create, we got those ads suspended for violating Google’s ad terms and the fine folks at Google 100% confirmed exactly who was the competitor running them against us. So, what this did was trigger a kind of “Band Wagon Effect” of others who were like “Yea we hate them”. They actually hired people in their office who used forum spam, link spam, blogs and paid articles to slander us in ways we are still feeling a year later. As mentioned in the article instead of wasting our time and energy doing the same back to them, we have decided to focus only on making our product better and listening to our real users. We think that focusing on our products and service instead of forum trolls, is a far better business model in the long run.

2) Those Who Hate MacKeeper Ads:

Legitimate Mac Users who are annoyed or tired of our advertising campaigns or partner’s campaigns. Do we advertise? Yes! Do we advertise aggressively, I would not like to use that term but we do have a massive advertising presence online! We have had 15,000,000 downloads of MacKeeper and have a less than 3% refund rate. The reality is that many people are truly happy with the product even if they hate the advertising (and unfortunately some do). The bad part is some people take their hatred for advertising to a level where they dedicate hours of their lives to making MacKeeper a “Forum Punching Bag”… In a perfect world there would be no advertisements on radio, TV, billboards or the internet, but this is not a reality. As long as there are ads, there will be people who hate them.

We believe that we have a great product and we want people to know about it and the only way to do this is to explore every medium of advertisement. It is like investing everything in to a great restaurant and hiring the best chefs, buying the best food only to hide the location somewhere in the woods and then tell no one about it. Then wondering why no one comes to your restaurant? We are discussing phasing out our ads and trying to please the vocal minority, but we realize that pleasing everyone is impossible.

3) Affiliates Gone Wild:

We have suspended many affiliate accounts for violating our terms and while these guys were trying to make a fast income they were trashing our image in the process. The problem is that although we suspend their account, the effects of their actions fall on us and cause serious harm to our reputation in the process.

4) Rogue software (with similar name)

In May 2nd 2011, a rogue security program called “MacDefender” (also known as Mac Protector, Mac Security, Mac Guard, and Mac Shield) was identified. This fake antivirus software had nothing to do with nor had any affiliation with MacKeeper or ZeoBit LLC, but used a similar name to MacKeeper. This also caused a lot of confusion and created a huge problem of Mac Users who were not familiar with MacKeeper.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions and I will be happy to help you.

Also please check out some of the real users on our YouTube Channel. http://www.youtube.com/MacKeeperTV


  • joewaylo

    I tried MacKeeper and it never worked. I even complained to the MacKeeper people, and no resolution could be found. It detects issues that need to be cleaned, doesn’t do anything. Tried uninstalling it and reinstalling it, didn’t do a thing. Still refused to clean what it detected were errors in the cache folder or registry keys or anything else it said was a problem.
    ==============
    I tried “MacKeeper+Sucks” and got 726,000 results.

  • kenci59

    Mac Keeper may be a good piece of software but their marketing approach really lets them down. I would fire their marketing guy because they have taken a perfectly good piece of software and given it ‘virus’ hype. Do you know what I mean.?I don’t want to be continually pestered when I am trying software – it just makes me nervous and suspicious that there’s a scam under way. 

  • Broy Lim

    I think Cult of Mac should personally try and review the app in order to prove the case.

  • Seraphiel

    The reason I don’t use MacKeeper and will not even try it: I’ve heard too much of it. How? You see their ads everywhere, they seem to sponsor the people who review their product and these reviewers most of the time simply copy what MacKeeper has given them as promotional material without even testing the app. These kind of reviews are worthless. Companies that have to advertise so much and so aggressive and work with such strange affiliate programs to sell their products, must be compensating for bad sales and or a bad product. I’m not even sure it can compare to MacKeeper but take a similar product called OnyX. It’s free. The maker doesn’t advertise it, but it is well known because it is a good product that many people use and give their thumbs up. Now these kind of apps from developers that just make good products and let the users do the advertising are the apps I want to try and want to buy. 

    A bit on the sidetrack here, but one makes you wonder when you see the next screenshot if Cult of Mac is some sort of scammy site. Does cult of mac really need to track it’s users by up to 16 companies?
  • Solowalker

    A lot of it for me is that some of its features are not only entirely unnecessary but also quite detrimental to some apps, speaking particularly of its cleaning functions. I’ve seen far, far too many instances where individuals’ issues with apps were due to caches being deleted. MacKeeper STILL doesn’t offer a whitelist for cleaning locations. And when logs get deleted, troubleshooting can be a huge pain in the behind. And for what? Saving 100MB or less of space on your computer? Totally not worth it, especially considering the work the app makes your machine do in the background to achieve this.

    There is no speed gained by removing a few hundred files taking up a few hundred megabytes or less. If anything, an app losing its cache can cause slowdowns as the cache is rebuilt and repopulated with the data that was in it. Caches exist for a reason!
    Other features duplicate built-in OS X functions, and still yet others can be done better by free dedicated apps, most of which you can just run manually when you feel the need instead of having it run in the background all the time. (This is all true of most of MacKeeper’s competitors like CleanMyMac.) These kinds of apps are for those less savvy, promising to be one-stop-shop for all kinds of stuff they either don’t need or could easily find quality free or less expensive alternatives to.
    I also don’t agree with the “we have no control over our affiliates” garbage. They really could if they wanted to. Either set rules for affiliates as to how they market and use your app or just don’t affiliate with them. If they’re so big that they can afford to sponsor a trade show, they can do their own advertising. Might be good to bump changing their affiliate program up the priority list, especially if they want to try to limit smearing and fix their negative image.
  • Paul Paul Paul

    Leander,

    i really loved this site from it’s early stages. And it has become faster and more interesting over the time and I do unterstand that you need to make money off all your efforts. But honestly it starts feeling a bit like you are overstepping the mark. It feels like you are selling out.
    Please don’t do that.
  • Aybara

    My problem with the software was:
      – Couldn’t/Wouldn’t clean what it seemed to deem a problem
      – Some programs got noticeably slower upon running the cleaning
      – The program doesn’t uninstall cleanly if you decide not to use it.

    When Zeobit has been promising a proper, FULL uninstall since 2010 (per their own forums! http://mackeeper.zeobit.com/forum/11776).

    I had to use this page (http://applehelpwriter.com/2011/09/21/how-to-uninstall-mackeeper-malware/) to get all remnants of MacKeeper off my machine

  • Paul Flahan

    I bought Mac Keeper during the Cult of Mac Deals and I haven’t had anything bad to say about it. It helps delete a lot of duplicate files, cache and tons of MB worth of access languages you don’t need on your Mac. I have only had it for about a month now but for me personally it hasn’t caused any issues. 

  • jackpresley

    I wouldn’t be knowledgable enough to comment on whether it’s malware or whatever but I can only speak from my experience of using MacKeeper and all I can say is that it slowed down both my Macbook Air and iMac considerably.  Simple task like ejecting an Ipod from itunes that used to take a second, now took an eternity.  Once uninstalled, everything was back to normal.

    My advice would be to avoid this piece of software.
  • Ed_Kel

    The reason I don’t use MacKeeper and will not even try it: I’ve heard too much of it. How? You see their ads everywhere, they seem to sponsor the people who review their product and these reviewers most of the time simply copy what MacKeeper has given them as promotional material without even testing the app. These kind of reviews are worthless. Companies that have to advertise so much and so aggressive and work with such strange affiliate programs to sell their products, must be compensating for bad sales and or a bad product. I’m not even sure it can compare to MacKeeper but take a similar product called OnyX. It’s free. The maker doesn’t advertise it, but it is well known because it is a good product that many people use and give their thumbs up. Now these kind of apps from developers that just make good products and let the users do the advertising are the apps I want to try and want to buy. 

    A bit on the sidetrack here, but one makes you wonder when you see the next screenshot if Cult of Mac is some sort of scammy site. Does cult of mac really need to track it’s users by up to 16 companies?

    It’s funny you bring this up – I was thinking the same thing. I began coming to CoM to read up on Apple news and I appreciated their dedication to the days topics but it seems as if lately they are becoming more and more of a dumpster site for ads and deals. How many [deals] blogs do I have to sift through just to get to the news? It doesn’t surprise me that CoM is allowing as many as 16 companies to track us.


    Shameful, CoM, and complete bullshit.
  • ricnmar

    Yikes!!  I clicked on the link about this story and the CoM website crashed! Scary stuff!

  • Patrick Foster

    I believe i also got Mackeeper thru CoM and have been running it ever since. Had no issues. It has kept my mac clean of virii and i do use the cleaner and i have cleaned close to 9GB of crap from my machine. My Macbook drive can’t hold a ton so space is valuable.

    I would say that it can slow down your machine if you have the Realtime virus protection running which i don’t.
  • lkahney

    I think Cult of Mac should personally try and review the app in order to prove the case.

    @Broy Lim Good idea, I guess. A while ago I ran the free test version and found it to work well. But I didn’t put it through its paces, and didn’t have time to do it justice (too busy running the site). Plus, I feel I’m not really qualified to judge it a deep technical level. I can give it a once-over from the perspective of an average user, but I’m not technical enough to really tear it apart.

    Let me see if I can find someone who can give it a really good test.
  • lkahney

    @Seraphiel and @Ed_Kel

    It’s not easy making money in online media, especially for a startup blog like Cult of Mac. There are a lot of scripts running on the site, that’s true, but they’re either our own analytics packages of from our various advertising partners. 

    Unfortunately, we need a lot of advertising partners to make enough revenue to run the site. I view this as a temporary deal with the devil. As we grow and are able to monetize the site better (IE. command higher CPMs), we’ll be able to trim the number of advertisers we do business with.

    Online media and advertising is a complex and difficult topic. I’m getting an education in it myself. I don’t think any of these tracking mechanisms and evil or insidious. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but at best they are absolutely harmless, and at worst a little bit creepy. But the ad industry demands it, and we’re in that industry.

    Fun fact: the Apple-centric audience is particularly difficult to advertise to because there’s such a high percentage of ad- and script-blockers. Great for readers I guess, but a nightmare for us publishers! ;-)
     
  • lkahney

    Leander,

    i really loved this site from it’s early stages. And it has become faster and more interesting over the time and I do unterstand that you need to make money off all your efforts. But honestly it starts feeling a bit like you are overstepping the mark. It feels like you are selling out.
    Please don’t do that.

    @Paul Paul Paul 

    I think this is a pretty honest and open post. If we were selling out, we’d never post anything like this. We’d just say it MacKeeper is great, no problem, buy it and shut up. We’d delete all the negative comments and certainly not draw attention to them. I don’t see how in any universe a post like this can be construed as selling out — we’re drawing attention to the controversy!
    In fact, I probably should have kept my mouth shut. I’m only inviting trouble and criticism from the trolls (and I’m not saying you’re one).
    Anyway, as I explained in the post, I was mortified that we might be selling malware. That would kill our Deals program quicker than anything. Then I became curious why such well-reviewed software was so widely hated. 
    Deals programs, btw, are a pretty good way for a publisher like us to get revenue. It’s totally complementary to our editorial mission. I really believe it can be a great service to our readers, and it diversifies revenue away from CPM-based display advertising. We were one of the first tech blogs to pioneer it, btw. I’m hearing that other publishers are looking at running similar programs. I’m pretty proud of it. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow and get even better.
  • ApplePr0n

    My issues were that 1) it slows down my MBP when installed and 2) after i uninstall it, i find traces of the software all over the computer still

  • FakeJasonDolley

    This was a good article until it became apparent that Cult of Mac did not even try it themselves… I have no experience with the software, but wonder why CoM decided to write an article “investigating” the validity of the software, but did not even test/review the software. I guess they accomplished what they set out to do, get another hit on their web page…

  • Wirehedd

    Just me thinking here but why is that so many of the supportive or neutral posts here are from people who have no history at CoM other than the last few weeks, have only posted one or two times and yet the ones who DO have a past of interaction seem to be a bit less supportive?

    Hmmmmm… it’s weird little coincidences like that that make people suspicious. Know what I mean? Of course you do.
  • lkahney

    Just me thinking here but why is that so many of the supportive or neutral posts here are from people who have no history at CoM other than the last few weeks, have only posted one or two times and yet the ones who DO have a past of interaction seem to be a bit less supportive?

    Hmmmmm… it’s weird little coincidences like that that make people suspicious. Know what I mean? Of course you do.

    @Wirehedd Like I said above, I’m not technical enough to review the app at a truly expert level. I’ve run the downloadable version and can assess it from the level of our average user; but I’m not technical enough to give it a good thorough test.

  • baby_Twitty

    Leander: “buy it and shut up.”


    Hell no. You’ve sold out.
  • WlonsdaleWalt

    I use MacKeeper because of the advertising on this very site on both of my Macs and have had no issues.

  • technochick

    This was a good article until it became apparent that Cult of Mac did not even try it themselves… I have no experience with the software, but wonder why CoM decided to write an article “investigating” the validity of the software, but did not even test/review the software. I guess they accomplished what they set out to do, get another hit on their web page…

    I did think it is  tad ironic (?) that one of the comments from the Zeobit PR person was that almost everyone bad mouthing the software admitted they had never used it. And yet here is Leander, who we are supposed to trust as some sage voice of wisdom, defending a software he’s apparently never used which is why he does so using talk from the company that has a vested interest in painting themselves as awesome. 

  • MattGodfrey

    All this article and comments has done is introduce me to advertising and tracker blocking software. Thank you COM

  • yoda69

    This is the most honest article about MacKeeper I have ever read. Good job of showing the reality of what MacKeeper is and what MacKeeper does! Haters Gonna Hate and I am going to use MacKeeper ;)

  • A.j. Avezzano

    I have never had a problem with Mac Keeper! In fact, I recommend it to friends. Mac Keeper is the best thing I ever did to my Macbook, it keeps it clean and running smooth. Thanks Zeobit!

  • Attila L. Major

    they have a huge budget for ads…. hate mackeeper ads..

  • Jerry Siano

    My comments and I’m sure a lot of others people comments against MacKeeper have nothing to do with me just “hating-on security software” for Mac’s, or trolling the internet because I have nothing better to do than make bad comments on websites. This has to do with the fact that every computer that I’ve seen with MacKeeper installed doesn’t act the way it did without MacKeeper. I’ve seen customers entire iPhoto library erased by MacKeeper, because it treated it as an unused file. There are days where I see 5 computers back to back, all with MacKeeper installed, with the customer complaining it’s not acting right; it’s slow for the most part, the trackpad isn’t as responsive, beach balls, etc. Once I toss MacKeeper in the trash, all is well and back to normal and sometimes it’s not as easy as just tossing it in the trash. 

    To make a long story short; I have seen, first hand, multiple times with customers Macs and even on my own Mac where MacKeepers isn’t good news when installed. If you need a program to clean your Mac there are plenty of them on the Mac App Store that will do the job for much cheaper or even free. You can always trust the USER reviews on the Mac App Store..
  • Ed_Kel

    @Seraphiel and @Ed_Kel

    It’s not easy making money in online media, especially for a startup blog like Cult of Mac. There are a lot of scripts running on the site, that’s true, but they’re either our own analytics packages of from our various advertising partners. 

    Unfortunately, we need a lot of advertising partners to make enough revenue to run the site. I view this as a temporary deal with the devil. As we grow and are able to monetize the site better (IE. command higher CPMs), we’ll be able to trim the number of advertisers we do business with.

    Online media and advertising is a complex and difficult topic. I’m getting an education in it myself. I don’t think any of these tracking mechanisms and evil or insidious. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but at best they are absolutely harmless, and at worst a little bit creepy. But the ad industry demands it, and we’re in that industry.

    Fun fact: the Apple-centric audience is particularly difficult to advertise to because there’s such a high percentage of ad- and script-blockers. Great for readers I guess, but a nightmare for us publishers! ;-)
     

    There’s a difference between selling your site and reputation out to ads and selling your site and reputation of your authors out to write about bullshit deals and steals. CoM is a glorified “wheels and deals” of the tech industry – IMO you’ve done more than sell your site to the devil; you’ve permanently ruined your reputation. CultCast is awesome; video and written reviews are awesome; apple news will always be your bread and butter. Keep it simple, like 9to5 or even Macrumors. Willing to bet that the majority of your audience finds it insulting that you pray on our love and appreciation for all things Apple, then post every other article with tips on jailbreaking…? Here’s an idea, cultofjailbreak.com? We come here to read up on Apple, not to be constantly reminded of their death grip – paradoxical to say the least. Just sayin…

  • TopAgentWebsite

    Good article!

    Mackeeper is not a scam!

    Great tool!
  • Seraphiel

    @lkahney

    I don’t mind CoM making money by advertising. My post was about too much advertising hurting your business. MacKeeper is such an aggressive advertiser that it makes people wonder if they are being ripped-off with some sort of malware app. CoM does in a way the same. 16 companies tracking the CoM readers. Now I visit a lot of blog sites that fall into the same category as CoM and non of them has more then 5 advertising agencies and other companies tracking their users. CoM has 16!!!!!! Now I doubt 11 of them are CoM’s own scripts. So you are either making a hell of a lot of money by doing business in the category privacy related grey zone, or are desperate in some sort of way to keep the site running because you think your articles aren’t good enough. Either way too much is never good. Especially when related sites like this one manage with 3-5 advertisers.
  • PeterWooster

    I see your site is full of MacKeeper Ads, so my opinion probably doesn’t matter.  I really don’t care if this is great software or not.  Today was the second time that I had to reset Safari to get rid of an unclosable pop-up for MacKeeper.  Any company that plays games like that with potential clients deserves all the bad press that they get.  Every time this happens, I like them less. It’s like the door to door salesman with his shoe stuck in my front door while I try to close it, he won’t be getting my business.

  • FredHandl

    Good post. Dunno If I will ever try MacKeeper … but hey, who knows … I might use it once, prior to a clean installation. After reading this post, I they’re in the grey doubt area.

    But then again .. my Mac’s running just fine as it is. So .. thanks. But no thanks, anyway :D

  • laurenceballard

    What do you call a business marketing a service it does not provide? Zeobit’s own description of its ‘Update Tracker’ tool:

    “Update Tracker ensures your applications are working properly by checking each app installed on your Mac for a new version available.”

    In addition to being hyperbole, this statement by Zeobit is untrue.

    Here’s a transcript I had with “Andy” at Zeobit, just last eve:

    You: Why don’t all of my applications appear in the Update Tracker window under Optimization?
    Andy has joined this chat
    Andy: hello
    You: greetings
    You: To repeat: why don’t all of my applications appear in the Update Tracker window?
    Andy: some of them are not supported in mackeeper update tracker
    You: Why is this fact not made clearer when purchasing?
    You: “Update Tracker ensures that your…by checking EACH APP INSTALLED (emphasis mine)”–nowhere does it say “some” or “a few”
    Andy: what are those applications which you don’t see in update tracker ?
    You: Too many to list here. 14 show up; I have over 60
    You: Better question: how is the consumer to know which apps “are not supported in mackeeper update tracker”?
    Andy: Please write us an email with the list of all the apps that you don’t see in Update tracker. we will take that into consideration and we will add them there shortly.
    You: I will do that. Am I really the only person to point this flaw out? Frankly, Zeobit is being more than a little disingenuous by claiming “each app installed on your Mac” will be “checked”–I would suggest while I’m composing my email, Zeobit should think seriously about the wording in the sales pitch and app.
    You: Will you forward this suggestion to Zeobit legal, Andy?
    Andy: thanks for your cooperation
    You: And thank you, Andy.

  • Tyrel McMahan

    “I was mortified that we were selling malware” … yet not one soul at your company took the time to try the damn product or investigate it BEFORE you started advertising it or recommending it? When you get caught red handed by readers who CORRECTLY call you on it, all you can do is call the accused company’s marketing/PR guys and ask if they are really a good product? Is that REALLY the best service you can do for your readers Mr. Publisher?? My advice is for you to go back to journalism school. That is at very least creepy and at worst DUBIOUS. Why would you do this?? Inconceivable! You *DID* sell out and now trying to cover your bacon and save face. Cut the crap-ola and just pay a third party to conduct a real in-depth review and post it. *THAT* would somewhat redeem you and it would drive traffic as well as provide a service to readers, which coincidentally is the reason you are supposedly here. Or is it all just about “Ad revenue”, “Business plans”, and “models”now?? thought so….

  • Tyrel McMahan

    @lkahney – THe person you need to test this is Joanna Rutkowska – the famous Polish hacker/researcher known for “Red Pill/Blue Pill” – if anyone knows Macs and security it is she…. http://invisiblethingslab.com/itl/Contact.html I’ve interviewed her before and it could at least be a good first try. Perhaps she can pass you onto someone else if she’s not up for it.

  • Mikey Garcia

    Justify it anyway you want. You all are sellouts. There are LITERALLY thousands of other things that you could easily advertise on your site. I am officially done with Cult of Mac. For anyone who is reading this, I have a lot of experience with MacKeeper. I work at a Apple reseller and we get at least four people EACH and EVERY day with performance issues DIRECTLY related to this software. Period. Do not take Cult of Macs word on it, because the company’s hands are in their pocket. You all should be ashamed of yourselves for selling out your fans. Luckily, just as you had other options for advertising, we have other options for Apple related news and information. bye.

  • Mikey Garcia

    One more thing. Where is this software “well reviewed”? Other than their own site, where they mention unknown of periodicals and websites praising the product. Also, I wouldn’t call people brining it to your attention “trolls”, if anything. People were initially bringing it to your attention, to help CoM (and fellow Mac Users). You’d have only to do five minutes of research to find hundreds of complaints…internet searches show nothing but negative remarks on the software. Sigh… Remember, nobody is PAYING all of the people who agree that this software is horrible, and potentially dangerous… What bothers me, is all of the older people that I see come in to our store, complaining that there computer has gotten horribly slow, many times due to this software. Every single time we remove it, system performance increase significantly and the customer is happy. Unfortunately, many of them have already been taken advantage of, and have been coaxed into paying money for it. It’s sad…

  • Martha Bie

    You really can’t figure out why people hate MacKeeper? Here’s a hint: When I dragged the app to the trash, it popped up a box asking me to buy it, and telling me I could get it “free” through Trialpay. This was not an internet ad; it was an ad ON MY LOCAL MACHINE, spawned by the program AFTER I PUT IT IN THE TRASH. It was also impossible to close or remove, short of using Activity Monitor to find the task that spawned it and killing it.

    There’s “advertising” and then there’s “if you try to delete our program, we will seize control of your machine for a final sales pitch.”

    I’m glad I only installed it in a quarantine account. In fact, it’s actually quite difficult to do; when you try to download MacKeeper, the link they give you is just an installer shell which asks for root privileges and, if you grant them, proceeds to download the actual MacKeeper app from elsewhere. Trying to install MacKeeper without giving it root privileges (which would be a bad idea, given that it leaves actual executable code running on your machine even after you delete the app itself) requires figuring out where the installer downloads the app and getting it directly from there.

  • techgoose

    The product is sleazy from top to bottom. Sold on the basis of fear, it is very deceptively marketed and not just by “rogue affiliates.” Load speedtest.net and tell me with a straight face that the add there for MacKeeper isn’t designed to fool the user. It is. Once installed, its’ difficult to uninstall, one finds that much of the functionality duplicates other free utilities, and that the program takes some liberties with what it can control on the Mac. Does it do some good? Yeah, arguably. Does it do some evil? Yeah, I think so. I am firmly in the camp that sees MacKeeper as SCUM and I advocate strongly against it. YMMV, but I’m strongly in the anti-MacKeeper camp.

  • Nezerbean1

    “the criticisms are like an urban myth — they are based on rumor and hearsay.” Well, here’s one that’s neither: I installed this sh*t, and my Mac has never run slower, and now it freezes up. I HATE it, and will be uninstalling it asap. I don’t need this kind of frustration or high blood pressure. And I PAID for this????? Dammit!

  • wazant

    I found MacKeeper on my mother’s Mac last year. She was unsure how it got on there, though she thought she had found it on offer in the Mac AppStore. At first, I thought it looked like some handy tools, so I checked it out online to see if I should try it on my own machine, but what I found was all the bad press. I panicked and immediately went about removing it from my mother’s machine. This was not easy. It installs itself all over the place and in such a way that it will try to reinstall itself all over again if you remove just the app file. An actual uninstall required editing quite a few text files hidden away in the various libraries. It basically took all afternoon to get rid of it. Point is, this kind of behavior, like the use of pop-under ads and difficult-to-drop subscriptions, is what makes MacKeeper seem like a malware scam. If Zeobit is worried about this image, then they need to fix their marketing AND their product to not behave in these ways. It is not good enough to pretend they are the victims of a competitor’s black marketing efforts; their own policies are quite enough for them to deserve being labeled as scammers (even if their product is mostly harmless). Yes, lots of people will tell you that Norton sucks, but yet Norton are not generally considered scammers–Zeobit would be well advised to ask themselves why.

  • swanfeatha

    …this doesn’t make it all better. Y’all still SERIOUSLY screwed up.

    I can’t believe you wouldn’t check up on a contributor….just goes to show Mac geeks really do just THINK they’re smarter than everyone else :p thanks for giving us all a bad name

  • jdhwatertown

    You have made a reasonable case that we’re not dealing with Satan himself here. You have not spoken to the question of whether the program does anything non-trivial that can’t be done with freeware, nor said whether (and why) it’s worth its price. Can you comment on those matters?

  • Phillip Jones

    I used MacKeeper for about a year or so. with no incident. The I upgraded to Mountain Lion (OSX.8.2).
    And the computer when starts up, or restart, the Dock would load, the menu Bar would load, the the Finder would crash and if Manually restarted will crash a couple more times until it finally stays own.
    removing it and two system control panels stops the crashing

    I will be contacting ZoeBit and letting them know i will have to discontinue use.

  • Marclusi

    I recently sent MacKeeper this email as I am so annoyed with continually being bombarded with MacKeeper Popups and pop up webpages, after downloading and installing MacKeeper.

    I bought and installed Mackeeper on all my Macs but have since deleted it because (a) it slowed my computers, (b) because of the amount of pop up ads i was being hit with even though I already owned MacKeeper, and (c) because of pop up webpages continually coming up. I have done everything since to obliterate MacKeeper from my systems, but continue to get unwanted popups.

    This I find is no different to getting unwanted junk mail through a letter box, first putting up a sign stating no junk mail, then by blocking the mail hole and yet then finding the junk mail on the door step. There are laws that allow a person to take legal action against companies for disregarding a persons wishes and still delivering junk mail.

    As I stated previously, the continual bombardment of popup ads are no different to junk mail advertising, and am now informing MacKeeper in no uncertain terms that I do not want your advertisements invading my privacy and my computer, my computer is not a television where I get the service from a company that makes it’s revenue by selling ads, it is my personal work tool and entertainment centre.

    If MacKeeper has embedded a program into my computer system that allows it to target my computer and I continue to get Popup ads from MacKeeper, then I will take legal action, or turn to the web to gain support against MacKeeper and it’s developers.

  • glwharton

    I use Mackeeper on a daily basis and have had ZERO problems with it and it keeps my Macbook running at top notch. Thanks Zeobit

  • YaelleG

    Ack!! I typed this whole long thing describing how This Program That Shall Not Be Named literally killed my last MacBook just a few months ago & I had some issues with logging in & lost the post. (Thought it’d take me back to my post to have me submit but it didnt.)
    All I can say with the limited time that I have is that MacKeeper IS bad. I have NOTHING to gain by saying this, other than maybe the peace of mind of hoping that I save just one person from the fate of a drastically slowed down computer along with so many hidden files that did not want to be found and a few other problems. I mean this thing seriously caused me to go out & buy a new computer!! Which is no easy feat for me.
    There is not a single solitary good thing that I can say about this piece of malware. None. Its the worst. I dont understand why so many people actually take up for it – is it something like pity? They feel bad that so many users are bashing it & want to take up for an underdog or something?? I dont get it.
    If I installed something onto your computer that pretty much infiltrated all of your files without your permission, slowed the processing speed down to almost immeasurably small & then was amazingly difficult to be rid of I think you’d have a hard time defending it.
    And this is what happened to me with MacKeeper.

  • YaelleG

    Hey I just left a comment & read it – – I hope that at a future date I can get back on here & better describe the damage that it did to my computer. My issue right now is that I’m recovering from having had injections into my skull (crunch!!) and I’m really medicated…cant think at all. So….there’s my story. Just realize that if i didnt give enough evidence or whatever in what I posted, there is a lot more I jsut cant really get it out of my nogging at the moment.

  • DragonBlue08

    I’ve been doing research for a while now on different Mac protection programs. Originally, I was suspicious of MacKeeper, mainly because they do have so many pop up adds out there. Also, the robot used to brand this program seemed a little too cartoon-like for a computer program. When I was at a department store a month ago I saw this program being sold in CD format. I have downloaded the free trial and ran the fast clean up option. My computer did exactly what the program claimed to do, it sped up.

    If people complaining about pop-ups really think the program itself is causing them, I have a challenge for you. Restart your computer, start up MacKeeper, leave it open but dormant, open up a browser window, go to a website that typically has little to no pop ups, then walk away for an hour. If you come back to your computer and there are a ton of pop ups, I’ll believe the program has something do to with it. Until then I’m going to work on the thought that you just notice the ads more now, mainly because you purchased the program you became more familiar with the packaging and branding. People, in general, will be drawn to things they are familiar with.

  • Tymanbrew

    If you guys really want a good program use cleanmymac. I’ve used this before and it was a complete nightmare. Took me 2 hours to find all the files hidden in my system to completely remove it. Zeobit is a joke and hides many of its files all around your computer, once you think its gone the renewal ad comes right back up.

  • henriliriani

    Calling their pop-ups or “unders” aggressive advertising is quite an understatement. Their ads are easily the most invasive out of my entire web experience with my current methods of ad filtration. How in the world is that supposed to establish trust? I haven’t even once began to consider trying their product voluntarily because by forcing their presence onto my screen in a new window, they’re invading my personal space without my volunteering—and I take that very seriously on a tool I use for work.

    If they are even somewhat serious about trying to open up and improve their image, they’ll have to do a whole lot better than that heinously useless PR statement about their ads. They aren’t aggressive, they’re invasive and quite alarming after a while. I’m confident that there are others that share in my discretion, MacKeeper isn’t doing themselves any favors with those ads.

  • cbard

    I always liked MacKeeper, but now every time I run a full virus scan it locks up (I quit everything else to avoid conflicts). I can run small manual scans, but apparently any scan that is too big will lock up. I sent two messages to MacKeeper support with no reply. This problem is so consistent that it appears to be a flaw in the size of hard drives that MacKeeper can successfully scan.

    I use a MacBook & MAC OS 10.6.8 & have the latest version of MacKeeper and also the latest virus defs.

    Any comments or fixes would be appreciated.

  • cbard

    I always liked MacKeeper, but now every time I run a full virus scan it locks up (I quit everything else to avoid conflicts). I can run small manual scans, but apparently any scan that is too big will lock up. I sent two messages to MacKeeper support with no reply. This problem is so consistent that it appears to be a flaw in the size of hard drives that MacKeeper can successfully scan.

    I use a MacBook & MAC OS 10.6.8 & have the latest version of MacKeeper and also the latest virus defs.

    Any comments or fixes would be appreciated.

    Update on the above post.:
    I connected with MacKeeper live support and they advised me to click “Stop scan” when it gets hung up and the a file / location is displayed. He explained that that file must be deleted and the scan run again, so that is what I did (actually I trashed thousands of already deleted mail files instead of just the one).

    That worked fine and the full scan was run and completed.

    I don’t know why MacKeeper Virus Scan stops at these files, but I hope a MacKeeper future version will be able to jump over these problematic files, and then ask the user if they should be deleted at the end of the scan, instead of getting stuck on them.

  • SlinkyAndSnudis

    I purchased MacKeeper to find and delete duplicate files mainly. It was slow and clumsy at this task. Then I looked at my CPU monitor and could see massive drainage from MacKeeper. I then felt very foolish for wasting my money when I could have invested in quality software. Then I tried to uninstall the beast. As noted by other commenters, this was no easy task. I was never happy again until I reformatted my drive to remove all traces of the insidious software. I agree they deserve their loathsome reputation for their SpamKing advertising and the crap bloatware software. I wouldn’t be surprised by their behaviour if MacKeeper was a tool for making an army of zombie-bots by ZeoBit or the culprits behind it. I don’t use any virus software. I keep up-to-date with security alerts and self scan using freeware scripts for known viruses.

  • lwdesign1

    Again and again I see users asking Cult of Mac to do a review of Mackeeper, and nothing comes of it. I can understand that there are quite a few trolls around who love to trash everything they see, however, with so much controversy about this app, it would seem a TERRIFIC idea to do a feature article to finally lay the controversy to rest. The only positive reviews, including Leander’s only have the woefully inadequate “I tried it and it worked for me” generality. The absolute lack of ANY kind of attempt by Cult of Mac to review the program is strange in the extreme. This is not conspiracy theory. Give us a review of Mackeeper — find someone who is willing to install and write up their findings.
    Leander: You don’t have to be an expert technical reviewer to do a review of a piece of software. Just install it, use it a few times and write down what happened. Your reluctance to do even this just adds to the feeling of unease about Mackeeper.
    I go the Cult of Mac several times each day to keep up with Mac-related tech news, and have done so since CoM first came online. I’ve been using Macs professionally and personally since 1989 on a daily basis in my graphic design company. I do not have any axe to grind whatsoever against Apple or Cult of Mac, and in fact I’ve supported both for many years.

  • lwdesign1

    Again and again I see users asking Cult of Mac to do a review of Mackeeper, and nothing comes of it. I can understand that there are quite a few trolls around who love to trash everything they see, however, with so much controversy about this app, it would seem a TERRIFIC idea to do a feature article to finally lay the controversy to rest. The only positive reviews, including Leander’s only have the woefully inadequate “I tried it and it worked for me” generality. The absolute lack of ANY kind of attempt by Cult of Mac to review the program is strange in the extreme. This is not conspiracy theory. Give us a review of Mackeeper — find someone who is willing to install and write up their findings.
    Leander: You don’t have to be an expert technical reviewer to do a review of a piece of software. Just install it, use it a few times and write down what happened. Your reluctance to do even this just adds to the feeling of unease about Mackeeper.
    I go the Cult of Mac several times each day to keep up with Mac-related tech news, and have done so since CoM first came online. I’ve been using Macs professionally and personally since 1989 on a daily basis in my graphic design company. I do not have any axe to grind whatsoever against Apple or Cult of Mac, and in fact I’ve supported both for many years.

  • macxprt

    One word – ONYX

  • iheartwordpress

    i use clean my mac myself by mac paw, they have a bunch of apps on the mac app store, i would trust them before this mac keeper which popups keeping annoying me to death, i only recently searched for reviews because i was curious

  • boozemun

    All I can tell you is I answer questions on a technical website and I get literally hundreds of customers who’s computers were messed up… some beyond repair using MacKeeper. It is at best useless and at worst harmful in my opinion. I even posted to their blog when I was really pissed of and called them many things that should never have got through moderation but it did and was up for weeks. That shows you the level of computer skills these Eastern European scammers have. If you have actually found so called “expert” reviews that were positive all I can attribute that too is their computers were probably already fine because “they are experts”. Try it on a computer of an average user who is not an expert. I highly suggest a backup first. Do your homework!!!

  • MarkPKnowles

    Odd you guys didn’t actually have anything to offer really. Have you actually used this thing yourself? I am guessing “no.” But you advertise it without knowing what it is or does.

  • ManCave001

    I was an actual MacKeeper user (paid version) for about two years. What follows is my experience and conclusions. I am not a paid reviewer, nor tech professional. I am an educator with about 15 years of experience using Macs. I am what most people would call a “prosumer,” in that I know a good deal about my systerm, but am not a techie, anti-utility software zealot, etc. I have no affiliation with Zeobit (manufacturer of MacKeeper) nor any of its competitors.

    I bought MacKeeper in 2011, and then upgraded last year. I used it to remove junk files and duplicates, and experimented with the anti-virus software. I didn’t use most of the other features.

    The problem: I am running a 2009 15″ Macbook Pro 2.8GHZ Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 512GB HDD. Over the past year, it has been having major performance issues. Slowdowns, hangups, applications quitting and more were all becoming the norm. I deleted duplicate files and ran MacKeeper a few times a month. I also ran permissions repairs regularly (disk utility). I looked for the cause of the slowdowns everywhere, from too many user accounts being open, to resource hogs. I decided that MacKeeper’s Anti-Virus software was just taking up too much RAM and CPU, so I disabled it. I continued experiencing slowdowns and started monitoring my available RAM with a freeware app called Memory Clean. It often reported that I had less than 500MB available, even with very light usage, application wise. After “cleaning” memory, I could get my available RAM to about 1.5GB, max. I struggled with these issues for a year or more, and was about ready to concede defeat and buy a new machine. I figured my MBP was over four years old, and perhaps running Mountain Lion and normal wear/tear were just too much.

    This morning, I noticed that the biggest resource hog on my system was a process called “MacKeeper Helper.” The process relaunches even when it is forced to quit. It was consuming over 100MB of RAM and up to 99 percent of my CPU at times! I also noticed a process called “anti-virus” that also could not be quit, and was consuming over 100MB of RAM itself. I started researching how to kill these processes, and was introduced the the Great Online MacKeeper Controversy. Here is what I learned:

    Some in the Mac community have pure hatred for this product (and some hate all like it).
    There were numerous user reports of it slowing down systems
    Zeobit seemed to be guilty of questionable ethics, particularly in its advertising.
    There was no way to stop MacKeeper Helper and Anti-Virus processes from running with deleting the entire application.
    I wasn’t the only one annoyed by MacKeeper’s system pop-ups, trying to sell me something I already bought.
    The software got good professional reviews, even from well-respected publications (e.g. MacWorld)
    It is often confused with Mac Defender, which WAS malware. They two are not associated.

    The Decision: After researching ways of fully uninstalling MacKeeper (and considering whether or not I should), I decided to try the uninstall instructions from the manufacturer. It said that it would remove ALL traces of the application. I also didn’t want to get into too much Terminal work and manually deleting things, as some users suggested doing. I followed the process (close app, drag to trash, enter password, click “uninstall”). I then ran a permissions repair and restarted.

    The Results: I have been MacKeeper-free for about an hour as I write this. Put simply, my problems appear to be completely solved. MacKeeper Helper and Anti-Virus are gone. Available RAM is now up to 2.75GB. I have experienced no slowdowns or app crashes. Even bootup appeared to be considerably faster. Launching iPhoto with thousands of images now takes a few seconds instead of minutes. Everything feels faster. It’s like I have my Mac back! I was ready to admit defeat and dish out another $2500+ that I didn’t have. I now think that won’t be necessary!

    What Should Yo Do? You’ll find a lot of controversy out there between professional reviews, ethically dubious paid reviews, Zeobit’s own defense through public statements, and Mac users themselves. Some users like it, and swear up and down they are real people. Others are extremely angry and hate the product with the passion of 1,000 burning suns. All I can do is tell you my experience and make the following statement:

    The bottom line is that I would not install MacKeeper/buy MacKeeper on my Mac. After investigating my own system’s problems (which made iit nearly unusable) and concluding that MacKeeper might be the issue, I uninstalled it. Magically, all my issues went away. So…I report, you decide. Best of luck.

  • benyu

    I have been working full-time troubleshooting and repairing Macs for over 5 years now. I can’t speak to all of the complaints many have, but in my personal experience, I have seen enough clients with MacKeeper installed to know that uninstalling it resolved a lot of their slow down/crashing/heat/fan spin-up issues. Even following Zeobit’s official uninstall instructions weren’t good enough, and I often had to resort to following manual Finder/Terminal instructions found on forums and such to fully remove MacKeeper. In my professional opinion as an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician, I would advise against purchasing/installing MacKeeper. Instead, make an appointment and take your Mac into an Apple Store Genius Bar (generally free for something like cleaning up your Mac), or search for a 3rd party Apple Authorized Service Provider for a more in depth (and may cost you a little) clean up.

  • junglejim1

    My problem with MacKeeper is not mentioned above anywhere! In order to register/activate the software I would have had to give MacKeeper my email address AND password. Obviously I am not going to give anyone my email password and I cannot understand how anyone else would do so.

  • Alex

    I`ll stick with cleanmymac 100% best cleaning software in the market love it have it for years try MacKeeper it never cleaned my mac totaly sucks and it makes my computer slow

  • henry

    nine one one or do thay mean nine elevin

  • Britt Sutherland

    I’ve used mackeeper on two different iMacs and the product works as advertised. It works really well when you need to clean up your hard drive after an intensive iMovie edit.

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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