PC Matic - An Overdue Review
Having vowed never to pay another licensing fee to iObit Corp., as I have done since 2011 for its Advanced System Care Pro optimizer/antimalware program, I went in search of a replacement. I didn’t have to look farther than the comments sections on my own articles. Here is my assessment and review of PC Matic…
Review: PC Matic by PC Pitstop
Many AskBob readers have recommended PC Matic by PC Pitstop over the years. It's been several years since I've looked closely at the software or company; that’s something I regret, so let’s correct it now.
PC Pitstop was founded in 1999 by Rob Cheng, a former Gateway 2000 Senior VP. At first, the company offered a vaguely described “free computer diagnostic web site.” The PC Matic software began life in 2009, aiming to be a “comprehensive tool to care for the maintenance and security of all your computers.” PC Matic has followed a road less traveled by its many competitors.
First of all, PC Matic eschews the “freemium” shareware model. If you want to try it, you must first buy it for $50. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee but it offers no functional free version at all. The “free trial” version scans and reports problems that are found, but does not make any changes unless a license is purchased.
Second, PC Matic is “as seen on TV.” Yep, Mr. Cheng went on the air to sell his software. Apparently, TV advertising and the "Made in America" pitch still work; the company is going strong.
So with that understanding I gave my credit card number to PC Pitstop and quickly became the owner of a 5-seat license good for one year. I confess it felt weird to buy software I had not thoroughly checked out, but all those readers’ recommendations and the money-back guarantee persuaded me.
PC Pitstop is a rather enigmatic outfit, with no Wikipedia page and Mr. Cheng as its primary spokesperson. I have no clue how many employees the company has, but I think it must be “few.” Otherwise, they might fix some glaring but ultimately unimportant flaws in their business.
I have never before seen a software installer utility that warned me it is “not a win32 application.” But I guess it doesn’t matter because the installer installed PC Matic flawlessly, so why bother fixing its erroneous error-checker routine? I also noticed several spelling errors while running the software and viewing the reports it generated.
Likewise, there seems to be little concern for aesthetics and other trappings of software “coolness.” Where iObit was annoying me with skins and themes and other things I could not care less about, PC Pitstop focused on improving PC Matic’s performance, capabilities, and user-friendliness.
PC Matic’s user interface ignores Google’s trendy Material Design minimalism. Most of the screen is filled with text and big, easily clicked icons. Hovering over a section of screen pops up a comic book-style word balloon filled with complete sentences that make sense and explain very clearly what will happen when you click that icon.
In other words, PC Matic is software for us Elder Geeks. I like it!
Easy to Use and Understand
Clicking on “Scan” launches multiple clean-up, optimize, and secure routines that just run one after another while you do something else or stare enraptured at flying toasters and other signs of benchmark test activity. Very little effort is required of the user.
When PC Matic finishes a scan – which took less than five minutes the very first time – it displays a list of what it proposes to delete or tweak to improve your PC’s performance. The plan seemed quite feasible to I clicked just once to allow all of the “fixes” to be performed. That did not take long, either.
After about ten minutes, total, I had what seemed to be a brand-new PC: speedy, responsive, smoothly flowing. Even this document I am currently typing on flows naturally and without jerkiness. To my surprise, my Internet download speed was actually a bit higher than the 200 Mbps promised by Optimum. Usually it measures about 10% on the low side. On a second computer, an older laptop with a wifi connection, my speed measured in the mid-60s of Mbps, twice as fast as before when I let Advanced System Care Pro optimize my Internet configuration. Disk operations are swift and silent; PC Matic’s disk optimizer seems superior, too.
The last major addition to PC Matic is a separate program called SuperShield. PC Matic describes it as "an optional Add-On for PC Matic that prevents malicious programs from running on your PC." Known threats will be blocked and known safe programs will be allowed to launch. SuperShield blocks polymorphic threats (malware that evolves as it spreads, and also catches emerging threats such as fileless malware and ransomware.
The company warns that SuperShield's malware protection may not function if you currently use another real-time virus protection program such as Norton, McAfee, AVG, etc. If you decide to install SuperShield, I recommend that you uninstall your current security software.
PC Matic assumes the opposite of what most mainstream anti-malware suites assume. The latter rely heavily on “black lists” of known threats and viruses, while the former assumes that any unknown software is unsafe until proven otherwise. I thought this “white list” approach might cause me many false positives and unnecessary interruptions, but so far PC Matic seems to know that LibreOffice is a legitimate open-source word processor, and does not block it or other common programs and Windows components. This video explains the difference between the whitelist and blacklist approaches.
After completing its tweaks, cleanups, and security precautions, PC Matic displays a one-screen summary of what it has accomplished. It also recommends a restart and re-scan of the system to make sure all proposed tweaks were executed. I ran a second scan and found only a couple of new tweaks necessary. The second scan took five minutes, half the time of the very first scan I ran on this machine.
During the cleanup operation, I got several cryptic messages that said "unable to get property 'RenderObj' of undefined or null reference." But clicking "Ok" to continue seemed to clear things up with no noticeable repercussions. PC Matic also flagged a few items as malware that I felt were false positives, but they were old programs that I no longer used, so I allowed for their removal.
The Bottom Line
Is PC Matic worth $50 a year, to protect up to five computers? That compares favorably with most PC optimizer and security suites. I suspect I will not get a discount when it’s time to renew my subscription, or at least not a 75% discount as iObit and other desperate freemium vendors offer. But they do offer an "Evergreen" option, which costs $150 and never expires. Mr. Cheng seems a bit old-fashioned in his pricing strategy, but that means he’s honest about what he thinks his product is worth. I have to agree with him.
I'm running PC Matic with SuperShield, and aside from the few cosmetic glitches, so far I'm very pleased and impressed. If you are looking for an all-in-one PC optimizer/cleaner/security tool, PC Matic is an excellent choice. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Sep 2018
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