What’s The Problem With NCH Software & How To Remove It?

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Hijacking file extensions, forcing itself into context menus and downloading additional data – no, it’s not a virus, but any app you can mention from NCH Software.

They’re known online for providing good software, useful niche converters and media editors that can do the job for you at the drop of a hat. But should you take the risk of installing a useful app if it is liable to hijack your computer in such a way?

NCH Software: Who Are They?

A slightly shadowy software publisher originating in Canberra, Australia and with a Denver Colorado, USA office supporting North American customers, NCH Software develops and releases a huge number of media and file conversion utilities.

muo-nch-software-homepage

Launched in 1993, NCH apps often appear on cover disks and can also be found across the web through popular legal app download sites.

NCH Software’s customer care is notoriously limited, and their shunning of social media makes them far less easy to contact than many of their competitors.

Useful Software, For a Fair Price

For an appropriate price, NCH Software provides a variety of useful media and file converter applications, the majority of which work as advertised.

muo-nch-software-videoedit

A quick perusal of the NCH Software website may reveal a variety of “free” apps, but these are almost all trial versions with limited features. You’ll need to upgrade to the full version to unlock advanced features.

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Whether you’re planning to edit photos, create DVD labels, edit audio files, digitize video or convert file formats, NCH Software has a tool that you can use.

The question is: should you?

Typical Problems Caused By NCH Software Applications

After installing an NCH Software app, you might find that it helps you deal with the urgent file conversion or media editing task that you had in mind.

It’s what you notice later on that will raise eyebrows.

The insidious creep of NCH Software will spread across your PC slowly at first. Perhaps you’ll launch an MP3, only to find it is playing in a completely different app: an NCH Software one, of course, and perhaps even one you weren’t aware of installing. File extension hijacking is pretty low, don’t you think? Certain malware scanners certainly do, highlighting some of NCH Software’s apps as malware.

Alternatively, you might notice the hijack of your context menus. Every time you right-click, something will happen, but the menu will take a while as the NCH Software entries are added.

Ultimately, you’ll realise that NCH Software has somehow taken over your PC. While McAfee and WOT don’t list these apps as malware, they’re certainly borderline and we wouldn’t advise installing any of them, free or otherwise.

NCH Toolbar Remove It

Also, NCH Software insists on bundling third party apps in its installer, taking you longer to install and run the app you were looking forward to use. The practice of adding bloatware to installers really should be banned. Sometimes they’re toolbars, other times, Google Chrome, which of course, you’re already using.

By now you may be thinking “surely NCH Software know about their software’s shortcomings and have provided support for users to deal with these issues?” It’s a reasonable point of view. Sadly, NCH has a pretty poor support system, with bug reports usually going unacknowledged.

This isn’t to say that bugs aren’t resolved – they are. However, to benefit from updates to the NCH Software that you have purchased over three months previously, you’ll need to pay for it again.

Yeah, just re-read that: pay for it again.

Problems Uninstalling NCH Software

One of the major complaints levelled at NCH Software is the difficulty users encounter when trying to uninstall the applications after discovering a bug or becoming fed-up with having other software installed.

For some reason, the standard method of uninstalling an app from NCH Software just doesn’t seem to work reliably. While their website includes steps that you should use, there are other methods that can be considered reliable. However, don’t put any money on these actually working – even if the software has been removed, the Windows Registry may remain tarnished, resulting in problems running other apps of a similar type.

You can use a slightly complicated method of uninstallation that involves browsing to c:\Program Files (86)\NCH SOFTWARE and renaming it to XXX.NCH SOFTWARE, using a familiar, easy to remember term for XXX.

muo-nch-software-regedit

From here, open the directory, and find the uninstaller program in the subfolder corresponding to the application you wish to remove. Once done, open the Windows Registry editor (WIN + R > enter regedit > OK - if this doesn’t work, press WIN + R > enter CMD and from the command prompt enter regedit) and with Computer selected open Edit > Find and run a search of the registry for NCH.

Once NCH has been found, right-click, select Rename and change this to XXXNCHXXX, where XXX is something memorable. Press F3 to repeat this action on all appropriate registry entries with that name. After you see the message “Finished searching through the registry” you can close all open windows and reboot your computer, hopefully safe in the knowledge that the NCH Software applications have been completely purged.

NCH Software? No Thanks!

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is avoid NCH Software. It might not be malware, but you’re unlikely to have a good experience. If you really must use it, perhaps install it in a virtual machine, so you won’t have to deal with it as part of your daily computer use.

Are you using NCH Software? Have you had any problems with it, or has your experience been remarkably pleasant? We’d love to know what you think, and any solutions you’ve developed to dealing with this company’s applications.

Hit the comments!

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36 Comments - Write a Comment

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Angry Thinker

A very useful article, thanks! I installed NCH, and experienced some of the problems you describe above, although not the extreme ones.

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Angry Thinker

Correction: I did not install NCH, but 1 or 2 of their apps :-)

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dj habinpapa

I often see programs exhibiting below characteristics:

1. When I uninstall the program, it automatically connects to a predefined remote web server, WITHOUT user consent nor interaction.
2. When connected to the predefined remote server, user’s information such as IP, OS, browser infos are logged despite the fact that its user has never agreed to provide such information.
3. While doing so, the program opens a 3rd party app, with which it is not affiliated in any way whatsoever, WITHOUT user consent nor interaction.

In my opinion such programs should be labelled Malwares.
One ironic example is AVG ;)

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Nate

I tool was fool enough to install this piece this piece of s**t software (1 or 2 anyhow) and then the others appeared like a fungus. It’s the gift that keeps on giving (like an STD). While I was able to remove the software (using the same method you did). However I am glad that someone published an article on this deplorable company and it’s atrocious software.

Now if we can just find a way to banish this company from existence then I would be happy :).

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Mike Merritt

I just used “Revo Uninstaller” and it worked great. Using it’s most intense setting, it removed over 100 extra register entries that NCH missed. But even after that, I found about 3 registry entries (which clearly said NCH) which I had to delete manually – and I had to remove (delete) the “NCH Software” folder from my “Program Files”.
Also, I made sure that my Internet was OFF when i did the uninstall – so that it wouldn’t phone home !

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Chris M

I use their audio file splitter all the time for chapterising single file mp3 audio-books, and provided you are careful (Revo gets a two thumbs up here) it is a very helpful tool. however, it took a few trial and error instals to get it how I want it. Also, video-pad editor is pretty good, provided you exhibit the same care during installation. Their habits are annoying, but not if you are aware of the shite they play :)

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Howard B

“Sometimes they’re toolbars, other times, Google Chrome, which of course, you’re already using.” Um, no, Chrome’s weak extension capability made me kick it off my system; Firefox has much better extensions, including the indispensable DownThemAll!

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Anon

I’ve used their Pixillion software and even though it was the paid for version, I still had to treat it like most freeware programs. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I think you should remove junk and cross promotions if you exchange money…

In the end, it did the job I expected of it.

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dragonmouth

The root problem is not with NCH but with Windows and its crappy Uninstaller. It never does a complete job. Always leaves either directory entries or Registry entries or both, behind. If you were to check your Windows Registry line by line, you would find thousands of orphaned keys. Of course, with 100k, 200k or more keys in the Registry, it is not an easy undertaking. Whoever invented and coded the Registry should be strung up by his short arm.

Angry Thinker

But that does not absolve NCH. If NCH wuld not co-install crap in the 1st place, Windows uninstall facility would not have to come into action.

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smaragdus

Everything that comes from NCH is a complete junk, aggressive, deceptive, malicious and dangerous to boot.

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suzybel

I first used Switch (NCH audio file converter) and found it did the job, was easy to use and free. I wanted to change to another that was included in a media player. I had converted hundreds of WMA files to MP3 using Switch. When I uninstalled it, for some strange reason, my now MP3 files converted back to WMA files. Head scratch time. Also, it did manipulate some of my settings and install or try to install other NCH programs.

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Ja V

NCH and others of their ilk are one of the (minor) reasons I switched to Linux. Now my apps come from the distro’s repositories, and are clean (and free).

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J R Celoni

Right on target, including the comments, from my perspective: The software I loaded (including two I licensed) worked as advertised, but the dealbreaker for me was “pay for it again.” I don’t remember the specifics, but I eventually couldn’t get my licensed versions to do more than the free versions; maybe it autoupdated or I let it (which I doubt because in fairness to them it warns you you have to pay for upgrades) and I couldn’t get back to the old version. I tried to get support but never got a response. Fortunately there are other free utilities that do what I need, but it would have been nice (and worth the license fees) to have a virtual suite from them if support had been better. Fortunately I haven’t experienced the ‘hijacking’–yet?

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ChillPenguin

That’s one way to handle it, it was my method of choice as well, but you can also find open-source programs to handle most of these tasks without having to change operating systems. When the source-codes are out in the open it’s unlikely that the apps will act like malware. Sourceforge is your friend.

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Krish

I have used NCH’s Slice Audio Splitter. It is perhaps the best splitter out there. Uninstalled it and found better tools here: http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/products/dvd/Free-Video-Dub.htm

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Tam

How about using SandBoxie for installing it in a sandbox? Then, simply delete the contents of sandbox after use.

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Michael Kenward

I wondered if NCH might have updated its approach and adopted more ethical business practivces. I see not.

I got bitten when I installed Express Scribe and even paid for the “pro” version. Mistake on my part. I keep looking for an inexpensive alternative. Sadly I have yet to find one. NCH could write the best software going, but you won’t catch me using it.

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John M

Just saw an ad on Facebook for some interesting-looking software from NCH. Needless to say, after doing some research, I didn’t download it. Thanks for the information!

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John

NCH Software’s Wikipedia page at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCH_Software has absolutely no mention of all the problems this software creates.

I tried to put in a section there about how NCH Software will hijack registered file types on your computer but someone reverted it.

I request anybody who comes to this page to go to wikipedia and edit the NCH Software page and describe your experience.

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BigMuff

I’ve intalled NCH Debut Video Capture and it’s video editor (this last one was installed when I’ve pressed “edit capture”, but it asked to me if I wanted), and they work fine in both pc (Windows 7 and 8). They appear in programs list, they work fine and they are lightweight.
Every time you want to use a new function, it asks you if you want to install extra NCH software.

The only thing that does not convince me, is that everytime I want to rename their desktop shortcuts, it forces me to rename them as administrator. That´s very strange… It’s my desktop!

Anyway, after reading some articles like this, I decided to uninstall it.

Please, tell me your opinion about my comment, I really liked them.
Cheers.

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Jerry

I have noticed that every time the NCH Wave Pad records sound, that my local area connection starts sending packets – I guess back to the mother ship.

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Jerry

I think NCH software is constantly calling home when ever it is being used with the data that is being used. While I did like the WavePad application, I see high usages of internet traffic when data is being captured and displayed by the application.

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R . K .

I am amazed to go through the comments made above . I have been using NCH softwares for past 6/7 years , and I am happy with that , Almost all the NCH softwares are easy to install and easy to uninstall . These are very easy to use , with user friendly interfaces . They do all the work perfectly for which they are written . For a test , I completely uninstalled Switch Sound File Converter using Revo , and then played the MP3 which was earlier made using SWITCH . I had no problem at all in playing the MP3 . I tried AVG , BitDefender , Avast , Malwarebyte and Kasperesky Antiviruses . None of these pointed any NCH software as any kind of threat . I am using both Audacity and Wave pad and never found them interfering with each other . While installing any NCH software , the installer gives option to install some other NCH Softwares too , It however does not force for it . If any one does not want to install other softwares , he should not click those options . It is as simple as that . Big names like ADOBE , ORACLE etc are doing the same thing , that too for some third party software . Is something being plotted against NCH or what ?

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Travis

I used a uninstall application called Geek Uninstaller (http://www.geekuninstaller.com/). Got it all.

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rob

use NCH before autumn of 2012 or 2013 (can’t remember which) and use Freestudio 6.0.0.128 or preferably no later than 6.2.13.304

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rob

make a restore point before installing unknown software – and use Revouninstaller-1.95 and Avira to clean up

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Xing

I can’t seem to rename the files found after searching NCH in regedit… help! ><

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William

I installed Switch Sound File Converter. It worked exactly as promised, but I did notice a few out of whack things occurring on my computer a few weeks after the initial install. At first it was pop ups even with my ad block software running that would take me to a site affiliated with NCH, then my homepage switched, then after I started poking at it trying to fix these symptoms it started opening a web browser by itself and installing a couple other NCH programs. I have really slow internet so that was not too much of a problem, but when I uninstalled it my AVIRA antivirus detected a HOST file being manipulated and stopped the process from completing. The uninstall did complete and I ran MBAM(malware bytes anti-malware) just to make sure. No detections…like you said it might not be malware by definition but NCH should be ashamed of offering software like this. The product was sound, complete with a batch converting option which converted all 200GB of my FLAK files into high quality MP3s so I could use them on my iphone…but with issues like this I will run it inside of a virtual machine, or find another program…or use a older machine that is not my main office computer. Thank you OP for your intelligent break down of this issue.

Kudos!
Will

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Faar Side

Thank you for this article, and to all who commented. I am in full agreement, through my own first-hand experience, that [at least one] NCH utility is trash.

I needed a utility to capture audio streams and output them to disk as either an mp3 or wma file. I found NCH’s SoundTap, which will capture and output the streams as mp3, down-loaded it, and gave it a try. Simple to use, did just what it said it would – captured online audio streams and wrote them to disk as mp3 files . The 2nd day after installation is when I began to notice “irregularities” with my Windows7 PC.

First, SoundTap not only installed itself, but also a whole host of un-wanted audio-related software in a start-menu folder that I believe was labeled ‘AudioHQ’. I DID NOT specify that I wanted anything but SoundTap installed during the installation process.

Second, even when NOT running SoundTap, I noticed PC performance was suddenly TERRIBLE. I had a close look at ALL services and processes and did not see anything unusual at first. Then, I noticed the ‘SYSTEM’ process (NOT ‘System Idle’) was consistently nailed at 50%. The only time I had seen that before was when my system was hijacked by malicious software. I have kept a close eye on what my system is running since that incident. I could not account for this change, so, I decided to do a full system scan with Norton in both Windows live mode and Windows safe mode. Live mode showed nothing. Safe mode showed 8 security risks that had not been there the day before I installed SoundTap. Norton resolved all 8 risks. I decided to uninstall SoundTap (since it was the only new install done in that 2-day period). Bingo. The ‘SYSTEM’ process went back to normal (if you can consider anything that Windows does is ‘normal’).

What the he!! was SoundTap doing with 50% of my cpu when it was not even in use at the time? And, why/how was it doing it through the ‘SYSTEM’ process? This sounds like malware to me.

Christian Cawley

Hi Fear Side, thanks for sharing your experience with NCH.

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Bill

I’ve noticed that NCH software that I have purchased, automatically updates it’s self to a newer version, then deactivates it after 14 days, forcing me to repurchase it or it stops working. Thankfully, I backed up copies of the versions I bought, but have to reinstall them every 14 days. Very illegal and annoying. I’d like to learn about good alternatives to their tools. Mainly Mixpad, in case you know of any. Thanks for your article.

Christian Cawley

Thanks for your suggestion, Bill, I’ll feed this back to the team.

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Almark

The sad part about this company that I’ve noticed for years is it’s useful software. In fact others don’t create such useful software. It’s a real shame they install bad code and even malware.

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Dee

Just installed NCH’s screen motion capture freebie a few days ago and was dismayed to find the resulting avi file didn’t run. Had to use Windows Movie Maker to create a usable file. Bad fail considering Switch used to be a good little program. Now I’ve spotted NCH Express Zip has installed itself on my context menus. Sorry, NCH, the friendship is over.

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Allen

PUP.Optional.SearchApp.A

I looked at my quarantine file on Malwarebytes, (May 15, 2015), on my Dell Windoze 7 w/Chrome LT, I noticed the above file was quarantined and also noted that the above file first appeared on Feb 17, 2015, and that’s the date that I also installed the NCH converter. I removed that program promptly, I also cleared my cache and ran another scan to verify that the Dell PC was now clean, which it was. But then I noticed when signing onto Chrome, there was a notify that it was possibly corrupted, so I resolved that by Restoring Default Browser Settings in Google Chrome: Open “Settings” and scroll to the bottom and click “Show Advanced Settings” then scrolled to the bottom of the page again and click “Reset Browser Settings”. This removed it from Chrome.

NCH was originally purchased/installed by me to convert my Windows WMA music files to MP3 format so that my music would be compatible for my N7 OTG Nexus Media Importer, [USB FD > N7]. BTW, the NMI works GREAT!

NCH actually converted my files really well, only with one major (to me) flaw: After a CD/list of files to be converted completed, my Dell LT HD just screamed! Ouch! (9 out of 10 times). I had to do a hard stop each and every time to resolve this issue. Not pleasant. NCH got the job done though and and it did it very well, except for that *very* irritating flaw. But then add the PUP problem it apparently caused me. Boo-Hiss!

I vaguely remember reading online somewhere previously, that someone was warning people that the NCH converter program put a virus on their PC. I ignored/or maybe I forgot(?) about it when I installed it. Hmmm, this ‘problem’ has been definitely identified , (yes I researched again, found it here — people complaining for several years now and NCH has apparently done absolutely NOTHING to resolve it! Shame on them! Until they do, (and they publicize the fact that this issue has been fixed!!!!!), PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE/INSTALL NCH PRODUCTS!!!!!!!!!!

Rant over!

Allen

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