Supposed one-click solutions are common in the computer world, and attract many users. Have a slow computer? Download free software, click a button, and everything will be perfect again.
Of course, experienced users know that this is rarely the case. Computers are complex and problems rarely have instant solutions. While you’d figure that Windows users are more susceptible to these shady programs, there’s one well-known Mac tool that has no right to enjoy its popularity.
MacKeeper claims that it’s the best all-in-one utility for your Mac, but in reality, you should stay far away. Here are four big reasons why you don’t ever need MacKeeper.
1. It Exposed User Information
Companies losing your data to hackers via security flaws is nothing new. But it’s especially bad when a company selling security software is the one hit. In December 2015, a security researcher found a huge pile of MacKeeper user data publicly available through a search engine. Some 13 million usernames, licenses, password hashes, and public IP addresses were available for anyone to find and abuse.
The researcher didn’t own a Mac, and had no idea that MacKeeper is a big scam. He reported the vulnerability to the company and they fixed it quickly. Thankfully, no credit card information was stolen, but this highlights a bigger problem with MacKeeper. The “security” company behind it used a public server without authentication to store this information — definitely a terrible security practice.
If you were a MacKeeper subscriber when this breach occurred, you should absolutely change your password. Anywhere you re-used the same password is vulnerable, too, so you should change those. But instead of changing your MacKeeper account password, you’ll want to consider deleting your account after hearing about what else this product does.
2. MacKeeper Hampers Performance
Generally, Macs last a long time and provide solid performance even after years of use — it’s one of the reasons why people love Macs. Unless your Mac is ancient and in need of replacement, you probably don’t have many slowdown issues. If you find your newer Mac chugging, MacKeeper could be to blame.
— Daniel Cummings (@ohdannyboise) March 21, 2016
There are regular reports from computer repair workers who service customers who complain of slow Macs. Often they find that the user has MacKeeper installed on their system. Upon removing it, the slowdown goes away. macOS is a stable operating system out of the box, so it’s clear that something else is causing the problem.
Why would you want to add something to your nice, clean Mac that causes a bunch of problems? You might think that its features are worth the performance hit, but…
3. The Tools Aren’t Necessary Anyway
The entire point of having MacKeeper installed is so that its tools can keep your Mac safe and improve performance. Let’s quickly review what each of these claim to do — right from the MacKeeper website — and why you don’t need them:
- Personal Assistance — MacKeeper is excited to let you know that if you subscribe, you’ll receive 24/7 access to support from real people. But why would you need this? If you have a minor problem, you can Google it and likely find an answer to your problem. Failing that, you can ask other users on StackExchange, Apple forums, or similar outlets. Don’t let a stranger (who is probably not trustworthy since they’re associated with MacKeeper) remotely connect and tell you what to do with your Mac. Ask a trusted friend.
- Cleaning — MacKeeper includes tools to clean junk files, optimize RAM, uninstall apps, and see what’s taking up space on your system. You can clean files for free and RAM boosters are useless junk. As you probably guessed, uninstalling software on a Mac is easy and free, and several free tools will let you see what’s using disk space.
- Speed — MacKeeper offers tools to prevent apps from running at startup and update installed apps. Removing startup items is a basic task you can do in System Preferences and virtually all Mac apps update through the Mac App Store or their own built-in updaters.
More Useless Utilities
- Files — MacKeeper has tools to help you find lost files, restore files from the Trash, and back up your data. Surprise, surprise: you can use Spotlight or Finder search to locate files, try a free data recovery tool to save those you accidentally delete, and you can use the built-in Time Machine or another solution to back up your files.
- Privacy — MacKeeper wants to keep your data private by offering encryption and “shredding” to completely erase files. You don’t need either of these, as your Mac already includes FileVault for encryption. “Secure deletion” doesn’t even work on solid-state drives, so you should just protect the entire drive with encryption.
- Security — The last of MacKeeper’s useless “feature” set is an antivirus tool to protect from malware and an anti-theft tool to help you recover your machine if it’s physically stolen. While Mac malware is more of a threat than it once was, the average user will likely never run into an infection. As long as you don’t download pirated software, install fake apps, or use the awful Java plug-in, you should never have a problem with Mac malware. And Find My Mac is built into macOS, so you don’t need MacKeeper’s solution.
You’ll note that every “feature” of MacKeeper is something we’ve explained how to do yourself. Learning these basic Mac tasks will help you better understand your system instead of keeping you hostage by paying for nothing.
4. The Company Is Shady
Even if the above problems weren’t in play, MacKeeper doesn’t respect you as a customer. When you start using the software, you’ll see all sorts of “warnings” and other scare tactics letting you know that your Mac is “dirty” and full of problems.
These are the same tricks you’ll see in snake oil Windows software. Claiming that temporary files are “slowing down your Mac” and that your system is “insecure” because Chrome is one half-version out of date is ludicrous. They’re only using these tactics to scare you into keeping the software installed or paying for an upgrade.
MacKeeper has also come under fire for using scummy marketing techniques. Many Mac users have seen random new tabs or “pop-under” ads open up to advertise MacKeeper. These also claim that the user’s Mac is “dirty” and needs cleaning. You can add phony testimonials and a lawsuit that arose from their dishonesty about what the free product offered to the list of reasons not to trust them.
But that’s not all! In 2016, a YouTuber known as LUWADO published several vides reviewing and discussing MacKeeper. It was a fair and neutral review, ultimately recommending that you stay away from the app for many of the same reasons we’ve discussed. But MacKeeper didn’t like this. The company contacted him and threatened to sue if he didn’t take the videos down.
When did it become illegal to publish negative reviews of an app? Blackmailing someone who informs viewers about a scam app is completely wrong. Why would you want to trust the security of your computer to such a vile company?
Your Mac Is Better Without MacKeeper
We’ve covered five major reasons why you should never use MacKeeper on your Mac. Simply put, there’s no reason to use this software. It doesn’t value your security, is run by a vile company, duplicates built-in macOS utilities, and will make your Mac run worse, not better.
There aren't words for how much #MacKeeper sucks. How are they not in jail with their deceptive advertising?
— Ms. Always Right (@AlwaysRight_RWR) November 17, 2015
Of course, MacKeeper doesn’t want to see you go, so they’ve made the process more difficult than most Mac apps. We’ve written a complete guide to removing MacKeeper and replacing it with superior tools if you need help ditching it.
You only need a few tools and some common sense to keep your Mac secure. Don’t overthink it and let these thieves steal your money and waste your system’s resources.
Have you ever used MacKeeper on your Mac? Did you know that its tools aren’t as useful as they claim? We’d love to hear your personal experiences with the software down in the comments.
Image Credits: Picsfive/Shutterstock