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  (Source: Engadget)
Consumer Reports/Consumerist investigation details Best Buy's worthless optimization service

With Circuit City now out of the way as its major competitor in the U.S. consumer electronics retailing business, Best Buy is plowing along with little resistance. The Richfield, Minnesota-based company employs over 150,000 people and has over 1,000 stores in 49 states.

However, Margins are notoriously slim in the consumer electronics retail business, and Best Buy has been using its Geek Squad services subsidiary to help bolster revenues.

In its latest investigation, The Consumerist tackled Best Buy's Geek Squad optimization services which retails for $39.95. During its investigation involving 18 Best Buy stores in 11 states, the publication looked to determine 1) What exactly is included in the optimization service, 2) How does Best Buy market the service, and 3) Is it worth it to the consumer to purchase the service.

The results were pretty much in line with what most tech heads would expect when it comes to services offered by Best Buy or similar big box retailers. The Consumerist found that one Best Buy rep promised that optimization would boost a new PC's performance by 200%. In actual Consumer Reports testing, however, it was found that at least one machine which had been optimized by Geek Squad performed 32% worse than a stock, non-altered system -- in fact, none of the optimized systems performed better than machines that were fresh out of the box.

So what exactly are these optimizations that are being performed? According to The Consumerist, Windows Updates were downloaded on machines, desktop icons had been cleaned up a bit, and some UI tweaks were done to make navigation "easier" for the consumer.

Even more telling were a few other issues that cropped up in the investigation. While Best Buy's Geek Squad removed desktop icons related to trialware that is notorious for cluttering and bogging down new systems, the offending programs were still left installed. A power cord for one of the systems had even been left out of the box after the "optimization" was performed.

In addition, at least one reader was told that she could not buy a new laptop at the advertised sale price because all of the machines in stock had already been pre-optimized -- and thus came with a price tag that was $39.95 higher -- and there were no un-optimized machines in stock.

Understandably, The Consumerist surmised that not only is the service not worth the $40 price tag, but it didn't even improve the performance of the new machines.

For its part, a Best Buy representative noted that the service "isn't for everybody" and that "I would get optimization for my parents."

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By PAPutzback on 1/5/2010 9:24:06 AM , Rating: 3
Run msconfig and uncheck all the startup items not related to what the system needs to run correctly.

The way most endusers gauge their performance is first by how quick they can start up and get to the desktop and then how long IE takes to start and how long it takes to go from page to page.

Lately I've been seeing the ASK, Google, Search and Yahoo toolbars installed. One machine I worked on had almost half of the monitor filled from the top down with toolbars.

By webstorm1 on 1/5/2010 10:15:43 AM , Rating: 3
Actually I don't recommend using msconfig, try Autoruns instead from Mark Russinovich. Type in and it redirects you to its new Microsoft technet home.

By inperfectdarkness on 1/5/2010 11:00:25 AM , Rating: 2
that...and process library...are the two of the greatest tools for DIY pc users.

By atlmann10 on 1/5/2010 1:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
I will have to check out process library I have never heard of that one unless your speaking of an admin tool. I have used autoruns for a long long time. I don't see whats wrong with doing it through msconfig either if you know what your doing. Then of course I also use the registry and tweak running services etc for some tweaks.

By callmeroy on 1/5/2010 10:58:55 AM , Rating: 2
I personally hate clutter --- if there is no unique value or reason for a "toolbar" or application -- don't install it. If you only use something once a month --- do you really need to download the application and have it sit on your desktop 24/7?

Web toolbars make little sense to me unless they are configured to be as streamlined as possible and you use its features on a daily basis.

So many clients have three web bars installed and another popular application are the those weather apps, like weather bug.....seriously -- do you really NEED 24/7 weather updates? Checking the weather a bit before you go home for the day isn't enough? Going to a news channels site and reading the forecast isn't enough?

In the end -- my issue isn't to say what someone puts on their own system...but it is "rich" when someone is complaining about performance and then you see they have 128 applications loading, 54 web tool bars, etc. etc.....hello.... :)

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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