There are several tools on the market for restoring your computer to factory condition. Unfortunately, there are several scams out there too, just waiting for you to trust them with your precious machine.
Now, I use the term "scam" lightly. Obviously some of the services mentioned in this article are not illegal, just shady. In the same way that you'd hesitate to take a car loan from the cornerstore loan, you should be wary of these services.
|Pictured: Legitimate businessman and his clerical assistant.|
First on our list of avoidance are the cold callers. Lately there have been reports of companies cold-calling people and informing them that their computer might be running slowly, infected, corrupted, etc, and that they are able to fix it. They instruct those they're speaking on the phone to bring up the PC event log, which normally displays several warnings and other messages related to normal PC function, and explain that the warnings and errors listed there are indicative of infection. They offer an overpriced service and connect remotely to the machine in question, do a basic scan, and pretend to remove other errors. It's all a bunch of show, as they aren't really doing anything.
It's unclear where the money is going or if they're passing along the credit card information to cyber thieves or other criminals, but it's safe to say they don't have your best interests in mind. If you receive one of these calls, the best thing to do is hang up. No legitimate software company like Microsoft or any anti-virus provider will ever call you to inform you of your machine's compromised integrity.
|Tom! Get the lawyers, the internet is talking about us again!|
Then there are websites that offer similar services. Websites like MyCleanPC and FinallyFast offer legitimate services to optimize your machine and remove any infection. The problem is they usually offer this service at an inflated rate, and usually with hidden subscriptions and add ins that aren't made clear first hand. It's better to talk to a local professional if you aren't sure about cleaning your machine yourself. Faces are easier to hold accountable than websites and phone calls.
There are several factors that go into PC integrity that you just can't detect over the internet, and so these so called experts calling you, or telling you over a website that your PC needs work are really just misleading you into thinking you actually do need their help. The reality is you simply cannot hear undesirable noises coming from a PC over the internet, or judge the speed a computer is running over a remote connection, you can't add or replace hardware or fix software that requires a computer restart, such as BIOS flashing or driver retooling.
There are four major things to clean up when doing routine PC maintenance: junk files, registry errors, defragmenting, and spyware/virus/malware scans. If the service you're buying doesn't cover all those, and doesn't tell you how they're going to do them, they aren't worth your hard earned dollars. Trying to do them yourself, however, is potentially even more dangerous, as you could end up creating registry errors or deleting important files yourself. It's strongly recommended to have a professional do the trick, but a local professional you can trust.
|PC Cleanup: It only matters what's on the inside!|