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Difference Between Software and “Scareware”

Websites that offer to scan your computer for free are all over the internet–there are scanners that detect viruses, find registry or hard drive errors, or check the health of your entire computer. These scanners can check your drives, registry, or memory and then will show you a list of any errors detected.

While legitimate companies – including iolo – do offer free system scans, a growing number of unscrupulous companies are beginning to use these free scans merely as a ploy to generate a rushed, fear-based buying decision.

Here are some of the tactics that iolo researchers have found:

  • Error inflation. Like the dishonest mechanic who keeps finding problems under the hood of your car, some of these scans over-report. Many of these “errors” may not be errors at all, or a single problem may have been divided into dozens of subparts prior to reporting. You should question the accuracy of reported issues numbering in the thousands.
  • Empty promises. After running a scan, the software will show an incomprehensible list of errors and simply “promise” to fix your computer, only after your purchase. In most cases, the reason for the vague reporting is that the product doesn’t have the technology or ability to back up its claims. Better tools will be upfront about what was detected and will be clear in describing the problems – regardless of whether or not you buy the company’s products.
  • Intimidation. To lure you in to making a fast purchasing decision, some scan reports have dramatically dire predictions of what will happen to your computer without a repair. Reputable software does not use such exaggerated wording and will provide straightforward, useful information about the status of your PC, not frightening alarms.
  • Shoddy technical design. Some scanners incorporate carelessly designed functions that can harm your computer and cause conflicts with your valid software. Or they come bundled with so much resource-hogging adware that your PC’s performance worsens rather than improves. As with any downloaded file you run on your computer, only install files from software manufacturers you know and trust or refer to trusted sources for objective information.

System scans can be a great way to find out the health and security of your PC, but to get the most accurate results, don’t feel coerced or pressured into making a purchase and be sure to check the credibility of the software’s manufacturer. A reputable company that stands behind their software won’t need to pull the wool over your eyes and can let their products speak for themselves.

iolo UptoSpeed

UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.






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