PC Matic - An Overdue Review

Category: Security , Software

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.

PC Matic Review

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. 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.

PC Matic scan results

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...

 
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Most recent comments on "PC Matic - An Overdue Review"

(See all 43 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Russ
05 Sep 2018

I always like to try something before I buy it, so this is a stumbling block in trying to decide whether PCMatic is for me. But an even bigger stumbling block is the fact that I can only install it on 5 computers.

At present, I have 6 computers, recently down from 7, and down from as many as 10 in the past.

So what this means to me is an annual charge of $100 or an Evergreen charge of $300 ... not inexpensive, particularly when I am happy with using Windows Defender, SuperAntiSpyware, and the Windows Repair Tool Box, along with Tweaking.com Windows Repair, and various other free utilities such as CCleaner. With these, my 6 machines run just fine at no cost for the software.

I may recommend PCMatic to some of my non-geeky friends, but for anyone with the skills necessary to do their own computer repairs, I recommend that they use those skills with the good freeware software available.

PCMatic is for non-techies.


Posted by:

TimboW
05 Sep 2018

Hey Bob- W-A-K-E U-P!... Glary Utilities Pro, free license, more thorough and adjustable than anything else. Since CCleaner's went down the drain and has become unreliable, Glary has become the only logical option. I'm surprised you stuck with Iobit for as long as you did. We woke up to them quite a while ago.


Posted by:

UbtchaNoVA
05 Sep 2018

I wish you would have included in your review PC Pitstop's additional products: Disk MD, PC Magnum, Optimize, and Driver Alert. I've not received feedback from PC Pitstop/PC Matic as to whether their PC Matic product included the functionality of the separate products above. Thanks, Bob.


Posted by:

Doug Allston
05 Sep 2018

I used PC Matic on my three computers for several years with the excellent result until about a year and a half ago. Microsoft put out a change and a day or two later all three of my machines gave me the blue screen. I eventually had to reinstall windows on all three computers. Wouldn't you know two days later all three went down again. (I should add that one of the computers is in another state that I maintain remotely.) After much work, I again had to reinstall windows. After a great deal of investigation, it turns out that Microsoft tweaked something that caused PC Matic to crash my machines. The teak crashed a couple other obscure antivirus programs. I contacted PCMatic and they acknowledged the problem. They had known about it for several weeks. But they never bothered alerting their customers. After reinstalling windows three times on three machines I deleted PCMatic and asked for a refund for the remainder of my subscription and I got neither the refund nor an apology.


Posted by:

Ellen A Erzen
05 Sep 2018

I've also been using PC Matic for more than ten years. I've got "EVergreen", and what a deal! When anything is suspicious on the three computers it covers, I just run the software. I belong to Geek Squad, and when they have to do something for the computer, they delete PC matic saying it interferes with Webroot, their security software. Then I just re-install PC Matic. I love it.


Posted by:

Dorian Glass
05 Sep 2018

Thanks Bob, good review.

You've piqued my interest with PC Pitstop. I used them (happily) in the past with my Windows XP and were suitably impressed, then. Over time, they must have developed a lot, in positive ways, it seems.

Worth considering again...


Posted by:

Quincy Carnley
05 Sep 2018

I've had PC Matic for about 5 years on 3 computers never expect to have anything else.


Posted by:

gary
05 Sep 2018

Does the program update itself ?


Posted by:

Anthony Sara
05 Sep 2018

I have had Evergreen for about 10 years. About 2 years ago I was hit by ransomware which effectively destroyed my files. Fortunately, I was not seriously hit since I am not an overly avid computer user. But,PC Matic's staff was not very helpful in suggesting remedies. A few months following my experience PC Matic's CEO starting TV advertising about how his company blocks 100% of ransomware, but too late for me. I must say, though, that I haven't been bothered by ransom ware since.


Posted by:

Ray
05 Sep 2018

I have used pcmatic for several years also. It has been great. You must make sure windows defender is turned off. Sometimes windows update tries to turn off Supershield and I have to reinstall it.


Posted by:

Bob K
06 Sep 2018

Hi Bob,

I am really surprised about your glowing review of PC Matic. I have seen the TV ad several times, and I thought it was really cheesy. Hence, I've never paid any more attention to it. I've used Privazer for a long time, and I really like it.

Thanks for another enlightening report.
-Bob K


Posted by:

pmwill
06 Sep 2018

Gee! Thanks Dave. My better half and I have been using PC-Matic for quite some time now and I am very pleased with it's performance. We also use CC-Cleaner and don't find any conflicts of programs. PC-Matic and Win-zip went about trying to clean each other out as malware. We like the way CC-Cleaner takes care of the cookie and spyware issues each time we back out of the Internet. I'm seriously considering their Evergreen one time fee.
PMWill


Posted by:

swabyw
06 Sep 2018

Well when I want to check on my computes I used SandraSoft application. The one I have is old so I will check to see what they are doing now.


Posted by:

Jonathan Skrine
06 Sep 2018

We've been using PC Matic for over 10 years and apart from a few very minor glitches (usually just after windows updates) have had effortless easy computing.

One other up-side is that I no longer know anything up to date about software fixes as PC Matic sorts the lot and just point the 'friends' who are too lazy to do their own research at PC Matic and have a lot more 'us time' for me and herself!

Welcome to the 21st century Bob.

Jon

P.S. You are regularly featured on PC Matic emails and have been for years..........


Posted by:

Beverly Shellabarger
06 Sep 2018

I've been using PC Matic for several years for both business and personal computers. I'm very happy with it to the point where I've gotten rid of McAfee entirely. I like that it optimizes the hard drive with it's scans. I think $50.00 a year for 5 computers is very reasonable.

I'm surprised you haven't reviewed it. I was thinking it was you who recommended it, but from another post, it was probably the other way around. PC Matic recommended you!


Posted by:

Egbok
06 Sep 2018

Russ is right, for us non geeky enthusiasts PC Pitstop is the top banana. Can't remember how long I've had it, but I got a free introductory year of it with a computer purchase. The only problem I have had is when I let my grandson on the machine and forgot to log out of the Admin. account. All is well now!


Posted by:

Stephen Earle
11 Sep 2018

Thanks for your article Bob. I was impressed by your glowing review, and so decided to take a look for myself. I liked what they had to say, and began the process of purchase, then decided to sleep on it before I committed. The next day, I got a message reminding me that I had not finished my purchase, and asking why. I clicked on the appropriate reason, and was immediately offered a $10 discount, so I took the plunge. My HP Pro 3515 is about 5 or 6 years old, and was getting slow, so the scans were slower than what you reported - not very surprising, but not too much longer.

I ran several manual scans to get the feel, and PC Matic found some problems and junk. Ran the cleanup and installed SuperShield, then booted. Immediate results - the boot was much faster and all applications quite a bit snappier. I consulted with tech support as to my other protections, and was advised the next day to remove Avast antivirus (with a handy link to the Avast cleanup utility) and Malwarebytes, and that I could leave my Comodo firewall in place. After that was done, the boot and applications response were even faster. Scheduled a weekly scan.

I'm still within my trial period, but so far, I'm quite satisfied with the results and believe it is well worth the subscription fee. Some of the comments suggest that other tools work at least as well for geeks - "PCMatic is for non-techies." I'm techie enough to resolve all the problems that have ever arisen with this machine. But the takeaways for me are speed and simplicity. Thanks for the recommendation!


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
12 Sep 2018

This was a nice review, Bob. I have often wondered about PC Pitstop's PC Matic. I get the email newsletters and I will attest that PC Pitstop does share many of your "Blogs or Newsletters" with the PC Pitstop mailing members.


I just started using Bitdefender Total Security 2018 this past 12-16-2017. I purchased a 3 years subscription for up to 5 devices, which is plenty for my needs. I have the protection on 2 computers and my Smartphone. I still can't get my full coverage on my Fire Tablet HD 10.1, 7th Generation. Amazon will only allow me to use the FREE version of Bitdefender. I would prefer the Total Security version, but there is nothing I can do about my tablet, except to complain to Amazon.


I do love my tablet. I like reading my Kindle eBooks on it. But I don't like the limitations that Amazon puts on the owners of any of their Fire Tablets. Amazon's App Store needs to be greatly expanded, there is so little to get for Free or Purchase.


I would like to mention that it has been known for years...To NOT have 2 Anti-Virus/Malware programs working at the same time...It basically causes lots of issues with your computer, tablet or Smartphone. Bitdefender "cancels" out my Premium Malwarebytes program, it becomes completely useless. I was most fortunate that I purchased Malwarebytes Pro, just before Malwarebytes Premium came out. Malwarebytes Pro was a Lifetime License. But Malwarebytes did honor their warranty and those of us with a Pro License were allowed to "upgrade" at NO cost to us and it still registers a Lifetime License!!!


I was just update with Bitdefender Total Security 2019 and I must tell you, IF you do NOT know how to configure your computer's software...You will be in trouble! Talk about security...The bottom line is that Bitdefender almost has too much security! Sometimes, I can't even get onto a well known website, because Bitdefender blocks them!!!


Now, in all honesty, if is NOT Bitdefender blocking some of my well known websites, than it is Google's newest update that is doing it. However, I did step back some with Bitdefender and I have stopped using Google Chrome...I have been able to get on my well known websites, like yours Bob! Yeppers, your website was being blocked, for Heaven's sake and I can't have that, for sure!!!


Right now, I am using Firefox and I swore I would never use them again...So much for saying NEVER!!!
ROFLABO!!!


Posted by:

David Hakala
13 Sep 2018

Russ: obviously, you must buy 4 more PCs to get your money's worth from two PC Matic licenses.

I am technically proficient, too. But I prefer to spend my time on more pleasant pursuits than PC maintenance, troubleshooting, and antimalware activities.


Posted by:

Ian Robinson
15 Sep 2018

Hi Bob,

As one of your long standing and loyal admirers I want to just give you a heads-up on this subject of PC Maintenance programs. (Of course I realise you may already be aware of what I am saying - in which case I apologise for wasting your time!)

I have been “messing” with computers for more years than I care to remember; and particularly security/maintenance software. Right back to the days when Peter Norton’s stuff was at the top of the list.

Recently (by sheer fluke) I came across a suite I had not even heard of... Kerish Doctor (http://www.kerish.org/en/index.php)... which is possibly THE most comprehensive, thorough, and docile maintenance program I have EVER used.

When reading this article it occurred to me that you might wish to also have a look at Kerish Doctor (if, like me, it is not familiar to you)?

So I’ll leave it up to you Bob. (Please be assured this is a totally unsolicited note. Other than being an avid user I have absolutely no connection or dealings with any of the people responsible for this program.)

Thank you for your Newsletter - and your sage advice. I look forward to every issue, and read it from start to finish.

With ongoing best wishes,

Ian Robinson

143/48 Ashley Rd
Tapping 6065
Western Australia


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