It starts when you’re mindlessly using your PC, unaware of any issues, then there it is: the dreaded pop up which informs you that your computer has a number of errors. It asks you to pay to clean your machine and remove the junk you previously didn’t know you had.
In a recent blog post, Barak Shein from Microsoft’s Windows Defender Security Research said, “There has been an increase in free versions of programs that purport to scan computers for various errors, and then use alarming, coercive messages to scare customers into buying a premium version of the same program”.
In a bid to help protect their customers, Windows are updating the criteria they use to determine which programs are malware and unwanted software to include programs that display coercive messaging. Although steps like this are being taken to help protect users, these sorts of scams continuously evolve so it would be almost impossible to eradicate them entirely. Realistically, maximum protection can only be achieved with user input. Being aware of the ‘warning signs’ is the best way to stop yourself from needlessly parting with your hard-earned cash.
So how can you ever be sure that a PC cleaner (or optimizer) is legitimate? Well, there are several huge differences between these malicious tools and a genuine cleaning tool like ours:
A legitimate cleaning tool will never just ‘appear’ on your machine
If it comes from nowhere, don’t trust it. To use CCleaner, you have to download it from our website or a trusted third-party site and go through a short install process. As lots of websites host our install file to help distribute CCleaner, we recommend you try CCleaner.com first.
Good cleaning tools don’t use scare tactics
The junk we clean is not malicious and we don’t claim it to be. Cleaning will free up space, make your PC run faster and enhance security, but we won’t ever say that if you don’t clean, you can expect disastrous consequences. Legitimate cleaning tools will also remind you to clean sensibly (we do so via a small pop up in the bottom right hand corner, which you can click to exit). Scary looking warnings which take up your entire browser (for example) and which you can’t close, are methods only employed by scam artists.
Authentic cleaning tools are transparent about what is being cleaned
The chances are, if you don’t know what is being cleaned, nothing is being cleaned at all. Open CCleaner and you’ll see a list (in the left panel) of what can be cleaned. Click ‘Analyze’ to see a list of the exact files that can be cleaned and then click ‘Run Cleaner’ to safely delete them.
Legitimate cleaning tools won’t ask you to pay to fix a problem
We’re not saying that a paid-for option shouldn't exist (we develop both free and paid-for versions; we’d love to only give away free software but everyone has to make a living!), but you should be able to understand, and have the time to consider, the differences between each version. Fixing something you didn’t know existed (because if you don’t, something bad is about to happen), is not a benefit. If an opportunity to purchase a paid-for tool arrives out of the blue and feels really pressured, remember that it has probably been created by a company or individual which knows the product doesn’t offer any real value.
Good cleaning tools will always be up front about the benefits of upgrading
Software developers want you to try their product, which is why the free version of any legitimate cleaning tool should contain some real benefit. Then, the advantages of upgrading to a paid-for tool should be really clear, so you can make an informed purchase decision. When you upgrade to CCleaner Professional, you get additional features which add convenience.
As browsers continually update, we release a new version of CCleaner every month to stay on top of any changes and make sure our users get the best clean. If you like, you can update CCleaner manually every month and not pay a penny, or you can upgrade to CCleaner Professional and your version will update automatically.
Scheduled cleaning, which is another CCleaner Professional feature, means unnecessary files and browsing data are automatically deleted. This 'set and forget' mode keeps your computer fast and safe - and frees up space - without you doing a thing. CCleaner Professional users also get priority support so if you have a problem, you’ll go straight to the top of the queue. So essentially, when you buy CCleaner Professional, you’re paying for ease. And the money you pay goes back into developing CCleaner and not into a scammer’s back pocket!
If you have any comments please tweet us. We're @CCleaner.