Free Software Is Costing Me Too Much

Category: Software

Only a few days before writing this article I published another, asking the bold question “Is AVG AntiVirus Malware?” But that was not enough to relieve the full burden of annoyance that weighs upon my spirit. Now I will take to task the entire “freemium” software industry, including a trusted partner whose annual fee I have paid for many years but will not pay again. Read on to learn who I am boycotting and why...

Hey Software Developers: Stop the Shenanigans

If you missed my article "AVG AntiVirus is Actually Malware?" you may want to read it for background before continuing here. You're back? Great, now let's talk about the problem with "free" software.

The so-called “freemium” business model was born from the original concept of “shareware.” A shareware developer’s proposition to users was simple and honest: “Here is my fully functional software. Try it for free. If you like it and plan to keep using it, please send me $X.”

Back in the mid 1980s, Jim Knopf and a few others pioneered the shareware concept. He developed a program called PC-File, and distributed it on floppy disks, asking for payment of $25 if users liked the program. Within a few years, he had built a multi-million dollar company, before the Internet was widely used.

The Cost of Free Software

Shareware worked well for a handful of developers, but not well enough for most. Those who did not receive as many dollars as they wished tried various tactics to induce users to part with their money; examples include:

Adding time-outs to their software; a program would stop working after X days until you paid for it..

Crippling certain features in their software and promising to restore full functionality when a user paid.

Omitting certain features entirely; when you clicked to do a thing, up would pop a demand for payment to “upgrade” for that feature.

To be clear, all of these “incentives” are acceptable to me. They occur only when I try to use a “nagware” or “crippleware” or “demoware” program, and do not interfere with any of my other activities. That’s fair and polite marketing, to me.

The “freemium” business model often breaks that barrier of common courtesy in most cases today. It sneakily and rudely intrudes upon my activities even when they have nothing to do with the software in question!

All too often, allowing a “freemium” program to reside on my PC is like granting a spoiled 5 year-old brat permission to run through my home scribbling advertisements for his Cub Scout popcorn, lemonade stand, and other entrepreneurial ventures.

The Vaporware Affair

Advanced System Care Pro, (ASC hereafter) developed by iOBit, has been one of my favorite system utilities. I have gladly paid its annual subscription fee for many years; it was well worth the money to me. But I will never pay for or use an IObit product again after my current subscription expires!

ASC has grown increasingly obnoxious in its nagging to buy additional iObit products, or to upgrade ASC further to the “Ultimate” edition. If (for example) I wanted iOBit Uninstaller I would have bought it by now. But ASC keeps telling me there are 29 “toolbars” that are still slowing down my computer. When I click to see the offenders, what I really get is a list of all installed software, not just “toolbars.” The list is just what Windows’ “Uninstall a program” feature shows, plus urging to install (and buy) iObit Uninstaller.

We users have become conditioned to these unseemly, ill-timed, and often sneaky intrusions upon our time and attention. I have ignored iObit’s shenanigans for a long time. The straw that broke this camel’s back and prompts my boycott of iObit products appeared in my email inbox.

The deceptive clowns in iObit’s marketing department wasted no time on honesty; the email’s subject like disingenuously proclaims: ? It’s our Private Annual Event & you’re invited. ?

No, it isn’t a “private event,” it’s a spam email soliciting the purchase of iObit Uninstaller Pro v8 – before it even exists! That’s right, these clowns think I buy things before they’re made. Or do they?

I am invited to “pre-order” Uninstaller for the low, low price of “$0.00 (was $29.99).” What is this word salad? As I read it, by clicking the “pre-order” button I am committing to try v8 of Uninstaller free of charge. But that is not the whole offer!

Way down at the bottom of this overwrought marketing blitz – four pages long, each mentioning “$0.00” prominently - is some very tiny print that says, in part: “At the end of the 30-day free period, your credit card or PayPal account will be charged $14.77 automatically….”

That is The Joker level of Evil, iObit! I will have nothing further to do with your dishonest offers, intrusions, or products!

I wrote to – the “press inquiries” address on’s “Contact Us” page, expressing my outrage and inviting the company’s response. I sent that email on August 13 with a deadline of August 17. As of today, August 28, my email has not been opened, according to email-tracking service I infer that iObit also lies when it claims to have a “press relations” department.

For the egregious multiple insults of wasting my time – and that of millions of others whose email addresses you have spammed – I demand an apology. Do not give me any feeble “we are sorry if anyone was offended” nonsense, either! Before replying to this tongue-lashing, read Psychology Today’s article, “The Five Ingredients of an Effective Apology” and make sure your reply covers all five bases!

Let's Get Back to Honest Basics

IObit is hardly the only example of “freemium” marketing shenanigans that have become intolerable nuisances and even frauds. I have warned AVG, Avast, Norton, Malwarebytes, and many other firms in other market segments: STOP the shenanigans or I will block all communications from you.

Here's my advice to shareware developers: Return to the simple, honest habits of yesteryear’s shareware: “Here is my fully functional software. Try it for free. If you like it and plan to keep using it, please send me $X.” Jim Knopf built Buttonware into a highly profitable business using this approach, and he didn't have the Internet to help him market, distribute, or collect payments.

If you must, make your product nagware, or crippleware, or demoware. But vaporware, foistware, scareware, and scamware will have no place on my computer! Do not beg me to buy anywhere except within your own running program. If you do, your software will be scrubbed from my machine and banned forever.

Windows 10 has added many of the features you sell under false pretenses. It is obvious at times that you are just slapping your own interface over Windows features. I am prepared to remove that face and deal with the real things if you keep annoying me and wasting my time-out

I bet a lot of readers are equally fed up, or reached that point long ago. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Most recent comments on "Free Software Is Costing Me Too Much"

(See all 55 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

29 Aug 2018

Malwarebytes has nearly become unusable with their almost daily program revision nags along with their nag, nag, nag to buy the premium version which provides only a few minor features like automation that I would find useful.
You are right on the $$$ on this topic Bob. Thx!

Posted by:

29 Aug 2018

I stopped using iOBit a few years ago. I use the free Malwarebytes and have not noticed anything unusual from them. I did buy PCFile way back when. :-) Along with many other excellent shareware programs. I miss those days.

Posted by:

Stuart Berg
29 Aug 2018

@Frank D
It doesn't matter where you put the BAT file. I created a BAT folder at C:\Users\Stu\Documents\Bat for all my BAT files. So yours might be at C:\Users\yourusername\Documents\Bat. The important thing is that you run the BAT file from a shortcut. So after saving your BAT file in your BAT folder, open Windows Explorer and right-click on your BAT file, drag it to wherever you want to run it (desktop?), release the right-click button, and choose "Create shortcuts here". Always run your BAT files from a shortcut so you can change the icon, choose "Run as administrator" when necessary, and run it minimized when desired.

Posted by:

Stuart Berg
29 Aug 2018

Malwarebytes was mentioned as a culprit in being annoying. This is the BAT file I use for eliminating the annoying aspects of Malwarebytes. This one does it all, running and cleanup. No separate cleanup BAT file is required.

: This bat file:
: 1. Starts the Malwarebytes service.
: 2. Changes directory to the Malwarebytes directory.
: 3. Runs Malwarebytes.
: 4. Stops the Malwarebytes service.
: 5. Deletes the Malwarebytes TrayApp autostart registry entry that Malwarebytes has inserted.
: 6. Sets the Malwarebytes service to Manual
net start MBAMService
CD "C:\Program Files\Malwarebytes\Anti-Malware"
Start /wait mbam.exe
net stop MBAMService
reg delete "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run" /v "Malwarebytes TrayApp" /f
sc config "MBAMService" start= demand

Posted by:

29 Aug 2018

This was why I stopped using Avast. I was a paying customer and they wanted me to buy more. I didn't need anymore, I have other programs that were the same and worked just fine, for my needs. So, I did not renew my subscription. I got Bitdefender to cover up to 5 devices for 3 years at a much better price, than one year for 1 device from Avast!!!

As for Malwarebytes, I was most fortunate that when I purchased my Malwarebytes Pro for a Lifetime, I was able to upgrade to the Premium and it is still considered a Lifetime Subscription. Now, my problem is...Bitdefender disables my Malwarebytes Premium so that it will not work. I know why because Bitdefender covers malware like Malwarebytes does. I still have my activation code for Malwarebytes Pro, so if I ever have to go back to using it. }:O)

I am quite impressed with Bitdefender Total Security 2018. I have gone over the settings and they work for me. I simply set the program on Auto-pilot and Bitdefender is good to go. It takes very little resources, yet I am protected.

Now, I have gotten a couple of emails from Bitdefender letting me know that the Total Security 2019 is available for a price. But since I already have a 3-year subscription, I don't think I need to worry. All of my updates are done automatically.

Posted by:

Edvins Briedums
29 Aug 2018

Thank you Bob.
Being an avid PC user and reader of your well informed advices at 83, this has come as a mallet blow to me.
I have been using IObit pro apps for several years believing in their "honesty" in spite of their constant "nags".
Will ask IObit why one should keep on using their productds. Let's see their answer - if any.
Question still remails, where does one go from here???

Posted by:

daz wazlle
29 Aug 2018

I use the free version of ASC and dont get any nags. I find it useful along with Privazer and the old original microsoft REGCLEAN(it gets registry files no one else gets). I also have the free version of ASC uninstall . It works well and also I dont get any nags.

Posted by:

29 Aug 2018

Used to use IObit ASC Pro and a couple of their other progs until they started their shenanigans a few years back... their progs root too deeply into the system and blast you with adware. I came not to trust them and their affiliation with CNET- another deceptive service. Glary offered a free lifetime license for their Glary Utilities Pro a couple of years back and it's been nothing short of awesome. No issues whatsoever and has a lot more usable functions than ASC... jus' my 2 cents.

Posted by:

David Shoemaker
29 Aug 2018

Thanks for this article, Bob. Now that you have s***canned IOBIT, what are you using as a substitute? IOBIT hasn't bothered me too much over the years, but always open to a good replacement suggestion.

Posted by:

Ryan James
29 Aug 2018

Thank you for confirming what I have felt for years with these bait and switch offers.

Posted by:

Renee Celestine
29 Aug 2018

Thank you Bob:

This article and the one about AVG was extremely helpful for me.

I'm in the process of shopping for a new computer. When I find one I'll be starting over with all new software and utilities. The information in this article and the comments on it (I read all of them). Will help me choose my new security software.

Thanks also to all those who shared their knowledge and experience in the comments section.

Posted by:

Keith Flaming
30 Aug 2018

I'm fed up and looking to replace AVG. I've used it for years but now too many pop-ups including scare tactics to solicit paid upgrades. Now that Avast reportedly uses the same deceitful marketing tactics, what AV ware doesn't? What's your recommendations?

Posted by:

30 Aug 2018

to: Keith Fleming ... how about using Microsoft's native AV ... Windows Defender? It's kept me safe for many years. I see no reason to use anything else.

Posted by:

31 Aug 2018

Pc Matic evergreen and Microsoft Security Essentials/Defender - ZERO issues over MANY years!

Posted by:

01 Sep 2018

I have always steered clear of IObit, because of their shady reputation due to past shenanigans. But this really takes the biscuit. If they do that to paying, recurrent customers, what will they do to users of their free products ?

Posted by:

Ian Harrison
01 Sep 2018

Also nearly fell for the $0.00 scam but read through and found the 30 days clause just in time.
Then cancelled.
I have JV16 and that works well with no nags and Malwarebytes on a lifetime subscription. So I am sorted for the moment.

Posted by:

01 Sep 2018

Interesting--iobit uninstaller was offered for $0.00 as an advertisement at the end of this article, along wit MeshMagic $0.01, and others.

Posted by:

01 Sep 2018

Uninstalled AVG free installed McAFee.It's free for Shaw internet customers.

Posted by:

Michael Wynne
04 Sep 2018

Great article...Over 20 years ago I tried to uninstall Norton Utilities. It was so deeply embedded into Windows that I was forced to reformat my drive and reinstall everything to get rid of it. I much preferred PC Utilities until they sold out. I have tried MacAfee, Kasperski, and others. Trend Micro worked well but I a couple of years ago purchased lifetime license for PCMatic. I am now extremely happy.

Posted by:

Stan Kamens
10 Sep 2018

I've used Iobit free programs for many years. Generally happy with them. I'm familiar with Glary Utilities although I haven't used it for awhile. One program I haven't seen mentioned, and I would like your opinion of is ToolWiz Care Free.

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