Do the “Fix My Computer” Ads Work?

Posted by jplesset on January 17, 2014 under Advertising | Be the First to Comment

You’ve seen the ads.  They promise to fix bugs, worms, and generally cure all that ails your computer.  They claim to diagnose your system for free, and then you can pay to “fix” all that the system finds.  Do they work?

Well, um, for values of “work”, yes, they do.  Please understand, they will find some problems.  In my experience, they will also find hundreds of things that are NOT problems, and may cause you grief if those are “fixed”.  I recently installed Windows 7 on a fresh system, and then ran one of these diagnosis programs.  The system was fresh from installing Windows, and had no other software installed.  It hadn’t been on the internet, had no programs other than Windows on it.  As perfect as Microsoft could have made it.  Yet, this diagnosis program found over 1,100 different things it wanted to fix.

I’ve also found that some of the diagnosis programs actually INSTALL problems to fix, so you are guaranteed to have it find something.  Better, to:

  1. Install a virus scanning tool.  I use AVG, the free version.
  2. Keep the virus tool updated
  3. Practice “safe internet” use.  When you get an e-mail, before you open the attachment, note the e-mail address it came from.  If that address doesn’t match anybody you know, don’t open the attachment. Check the actual address, not the “friendly text” name, because that’s very easy to forge.
  4. Don’t just click on links in your e-mail.  Hover over a link, and see where it’s going (your browser will show where the link goes in the lower-left border).  If, for example, your e-mail claims to come from “”, but the link goes to “”, that’s a site in Russia, and you likely don’t really want to go there.
  5. Don’t put your userid and password into any site you didn’t type in yourself…  Most of these scam sites try to look like the site you think you’re going to, but aren’t.  The URL (Universal Resource Locator) tells you where you are.  Most scam sites are outside the US, in China (CN), Russia (RU), several African countries, etc.  If you send money overseas, you have little recourse…

In short, there’s really little that these heavily advertised online programs can do for you that you can’t get done for free….