I decided to test drive Mackeeper to see if there was anything potentially worthwhile about it. Granted, they have one of the most aggressive and annoying marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen and they have a bit of a bad rep. But still there are an awful lot of “expert” reviews to the contrary so I thought I would judge for myself.
There are those that contend that those pro reviews were bought and paid for by Mackeeper – a possibility I suppose. Others say it really is a useful and convenient application, and sure, you could do the same thing for free, but it would take several separate applications to do the same job. So for $39 why not pay for a bit of convenience?
I installed Mackeeper and activated everything – internet security, theft and recovery protection, etc. I tested the quick-cleaner, cache cleaner, and malware scans. As far as the “Binaries Cutter” goes – even I’m not that brave.
The first thing I noticed was that the cache cleaner didn’t actually seem to clean the caches. At least not according to the Mac version of CCleaner. After running the cache cleaning routines in Mackeeper and then launching CCleaner for Mac, I noted that CCleaner detected cache items Mackeeper was supposed to delete that were still present. I double checked by going back to Mackeeper which told me my caches were squeeky clean. Hmmm. Interesting.
Next, I noticed that Mackeeper does NOT do a secure cleaning of browser and application caches like free CCleaner. WTF? So even if one could argue that Mackeeper cleans system caches and logs as it should, I would still need CCleaner to do a secure wipe of my browser caches.
If Mackeeper is designed to securely eliminate unwanted and unneeded files hogging space, why on earth wouldn’t they include browser and application cache cleaning? Moreover, the cache cleaning it was supposed to do finished pretty darn quickly. Assuming it deleted at least some of the files it was supposed to, I have my doubts as to whether that is done in accordance with the zero-out or DOD options that are available via the preferences menu. If you’ve ever used a legitimate secure delete application you know those wipes take awhile. So what’s the deal? The documentation on whether secure delete is even possible on cache cleans is non-existent.
Strike one and two.
Next I backed up my computer (thankfully) and ran the “duplicate finder”. This feature is supposed to positively find and group duplicates and allow you to remove redundant copies.
Good thing I backed up my machine. When I ran the duplicate finder it mysteriously destroyed my Chrome bookmarks and horked shockwave flash. Nice. Other damage has yet to be identified, but I would say the critics of Mackeeper, at least in this regard, seem to be correct.
As far as the “theft protection” goes, I note that all of the glowing reviews tout this feature but none seem to have tried it out to see if it actually works. Based on the issues identified above, I have my doubts. The way it is supposed to work, is if your computer is stolen a geo-ip is supposed to be collectable by zerobit, and, upon notification, they should be able to give you an idea of where your purloined laptop might be located. You’d think that at least ONE of those “expert” reviewers would have tested this out, wouldn’t you? If they did, I couldn’t find one.
The only sort-of bright spot about Mackeeper was the application update feature. Mostly, it relies on the App Store updater to do most of its work, but for applications not installed through the App Store it does seem to mostly work. Although I did note that it horked the ClamXav update.
For cleaning caches securely and thoroughly, download a free copy of CCleaner for Mac. If you like it, make a donation (no I’m not affiliated in any way with Piniform, but I’ve been using CCleaner for Mac and PC for years). For wiping free space, use CCleaner or the disk utilities that come with your Mac. For secure shredding, there is the free Permanent Eraser which uses Gutman, DOD, or zero-out, and integrates seamlessly with Finder. For malware and viruses, there is ClamXav.
As far as multiple applications go, once installed, ClamXav and Permanent Eraser are pretty much seamless and self-maintaining. And if you want to clean caches, open CCleaner, which as I’ve already pointed out, would be needed anyway with Mackeeper in order to provide thorough coverage.
Save your $39 and go out to dinner instead.
As far as the integrity of those expert reviewers? I’ll let you be the judge.