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Nothing but Scareware?
Man files suit in California court against Symantec

Anyone that has been around computers much has seen machines that were infected with scareware. Scareware is the name given to applications that claim to look at your system and find errors that could lead to damage or compromise of your machine. The idea behind this sort of app is to get the user to cough up money to fix problems that aren't there.
A man named James Gross from Washington State has filed suit against Symantec in a court in the Northern District of California. Gross hopes that the suit will turn into a class action covering anyone that has purchased Symantec software. Gross alleges that the firms Registry Mechanic software installed on his computer told him that it had found multiple errors with his machined and after paying the $29.95 for the software, he alleges it did nothing.
Gross goes so far as to claim in court documents that the Symantec software does nothing and has no value. The man claims to have hired a computer forensics firm to look in this computer and they say nothing of serious issue was found on the machine despite Registry Mechanic's claims that the machine had series errors. The Forensics firm then claimed that the software found errors on the computers tested even when there were no errors found on the machines when they looked.
The complaint reads in part, "The Scareware does not conduct any actual diagnostic testing on the computer. Instead, Symantec intentionally designed its Scareware to invariably report, in an extremely ominous manner, that harmful errors, privacy risks, and other computer problems exist on the user’s PC, regardless of the real condition of the consumer’s computer. Furthermore, the scareware does not, and cannot, provide the benefits promised by Symantec. Accordingly, consumers duped into purchasing software that does not function as advertised, and in fact, has very little (if any) utility."
Symantec says that it believes the suit has no merit and will vigorously defend the case. The case may be hard fro Gross to win in court since Symantec will roll out its big guns for sure. Symantec did find itself in some hot water in the past reports Forbes for making claims that came off like threats. In 2010, it used a message on computers of machines that had expired subscriptions that read, "Any second now a virus might infect your computer, malicious malware might be installed, or your identity may be stolen. Maybe things will be OK for a while longer. Then again, maybe cybercriminals are about to clean out your bank account. The choice is yours: Protect yourself now, or beg for mercy.”

Source: Forbes

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All registry repair tools are bunk
By adiposity on 1/13/2012 5:58:01 PM , Rating: 3
All registry repair tools that I have used are bunk, and I doubt this "mechanic" is any different.

The accuracy of the registry is essentially impossible to determine--only the programs that access the data there can know whether the keys are meaningful, and no one can really say whether the registry contains "correct" information.

This is not to say that certain errors, such as pointers at non-existent files, etc. can not be detected. But in my experience, "fixing" detected registry errors almost always causes issues, and sometimes requires a repair/reinstall of windows.

I have not used one in years and am not aware of one ever improving things, for anyone. I regularly remove spyware and adware from machines (2-3 machines per week) and have no use for them.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By phantom505 on 1/14/2012 6:09:28 AM , Rating: 3
At one point there was a utility to them. Win95 and I'm pretty sure Win98SE were really good at leaving orphans all over the place and it really did slow it down.

I had a free utility back in the day that did nothing more than delete orphan references and it spared me having to do clean installs.

I haven't seen that problem since W2K+ though. Not a programmer, so I don't know if what the change was specific to that, but there were problems with the registry back in the day.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2012 4:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
NT kernel systems never had the registry issues from the 9X series. There is a reason the 9X kernel was left to die off.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By ViroMan on 1/15/2012 1:23:07 AM , Rating: 2
This is generally true. Most often if there is crap in and NT registry, a program put it there due to improper uninstalling or installing or some other way of mishandling the registry.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By SilthDraeth on 1/15/2012 6:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
I have used Registry Mechanic since XP, and it has actually made systems for stable.

I didn't know Symantec acquired them until this article, and found out that they did back in 2008, though PC Tools operates independently still.

So, what did this guy do? Export his registry, run registry mechanic, then export the new registry and do a dif?

Hireing a "computer forensics" and they state nothing is wrong? Or nothing was changed?

I know when I have ran the application actual changes are made.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By AnnihilatorX on 1/17/2012 12:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's easy to do. Microsoft sysinternals has tools like process monitor, which can reveal when a program access or make changes to the registry and what key was changed, etc.

By Wolfpup on 1/18/2012 10:35:52 AM , Rating: 2
I love the Sysinternals stuff, but didn't know there was something that could read out actual changed registry keys! That's really cool...

By Wolfpup on 1/18/2012 10:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I know I used to use one on 9x, and it SEEMED like it actually did clean up stuff left over, though I don't know that anything dire would have happened if I hadn't.

Never used one with NT, and never had any issues that I'm aware of.

By Smilin on 1/26/2012 9:52:30 AM , Rating: 2
Not true.

Orphan registry entries will not slow a machine down. Unless an application access them then they consume no more resources than memory. Unnecessary data will not slow the access of proper data.

If the registry gets obscenely bloated then the OS would crash on boot. (current NTLDR in the NT based OSs allows much larger system hives but back in the day it was tiny.. <11meg If I recall). Because of this it can't get to the point where it drags the system due to low memory.

As for processing, I/O on the registry is one of the fastest things that Windows does. It's stored in a linked cell structure in memory and is incredibly fast. (grab procmon from sysinternals, filter to registry, and let it fly for say 5 seconds and you'll see).

I think what really haunted those early systems was every application developer and their mother putting stuff into the startup folder or startup registry keys. In this manner it could slow a system down as there is just too much crap running.

As for the article: Registry cleaners are snake oil. If your registry needs fixing, do it yourself. If you don't know how to restore a registry on a *non booting* computer then leave it be.

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