Review: PC Matic Gets a Zero!
After years of hearing from AskBob readers about PC Matic, I finally decided it was time to give the popular antivirus and PC optimizer software a test drive. So 18 months ago, I did just that, and published my PC Matic review. At the time, I was impressed enough to ditch my current security software, and entrust my home and office computers to PC Matic. A year and a half later, I'm giving PC Matic a ZERO. But wait... that's actually a GOOD thing! Read on for my updated review and recommendation...
PC Matic Review - Part Deux
I've written about PC optimizers, computer security, and antivirus software many times over the years. And every time I've published an article on these topics, AskBob readers would write and ask "Why didn't you mention PC Matic?" I had seen the PC Matic TV commercials, and I thought they were a bit on the corny side. And I was happy with whatever I was using at the time, so I brushed them off. But eventually, the number of AskBob readers imploring me to check out PC Matic was too large to ignore.
I've been running PC Matic since September 2018, and as I mentioned in the opening lines of this article, I've given it a score of ZERO. That's ZERO for how many times my computers were infected by viruses, spyware, or ransomware. ZERO for the number of times the software nagged me to upgrade or buy some related service. And ZERO for how many times the company sold my personal information to third-party data brokers.
Ransomware is everywhere now. Every day we read stories about another user, school, business, or government office being impacted by ransomware. Just this week, ransomware forced the shutdown of a natural-gas pipeline for two days. It's obvious that in all of these attacks, the installed antivirus software FAILED to protect the computer that was infected.
But 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. If it's not on the white list, it's not allowed to run, period. So the "white list" approach stops ransomware cold. This video explains the difference between the whitelist and blacklist approaches.
I worried that PC Matic's white list feature might cause me many false positives and unnecessary interruptions, but PC Matic knew that LibreOffice and other programs I use were legitimate. There was only one instance where PC Matic questioned a 30-year-old DOS program that I occasionally need. But I was able to allow it to run with just one click.
Selling Your Digital Soul?
You might remember the recent stories about Avast, the popular antivirus company, caught selling "highly sensitive" data about their customers' web browsing activities. For years, Avast was tracking clicks and collecting data on Google searches, YouTube videos and other online activities. That data was then sold to advertisers. They actually promised their clients "Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site." This is an internet security firm, whose software has full access to EVERYTHING that happens on your computer, and they're selling that data to the highest bidder. Outrageous, but it seems that is the price you pay for "free" software and online services.
In response, PC Matic published a Data Integrity Pledge which outlines how the company collects and protect your personal information. In summary, they promise not to sell or distribute your personal information, web browsing history, or data about the performance of your computer.
The PC Matic Story
PC Matic had its origins when PC Pitstop was founded in 1999 by Rob Cheng, a former Gateway 2000 Senior VP. At first, the company offered a free computer diagnostic and optimization service. 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.” In the beginning they were licensing a third party antivirus engine, but after family members were infected with the "FBI Virus" they created their own antivirus software based on the whitelist approach, developed entirely in the United States. As far as I know, PC Matic is the only internet security product that's entirely US-based, including research, development and support. In the fall of 2019, the PC Pitstop brand was retired and the company now operates as PC Matic. And despite the PC-centric moniker, it's also available for Mac, and Android.
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. The $50 annual charge lets you install it on up to 5 computers, but there's also a $150 "Evergreen" one-time payment option that never needs renewal.
Second, PC Matic is “as seen on TV.” Yep, Mr. Cheng takes to the airwaves to sell his software. Apparently, TV advertising and the "Made in America" pitch still work. You can see the PC Matic commercials here. If you lived in the greater NYC area in the 1980s, you might remember "Fudgie the Whale" and other commercials that Tom Carvel did for the Carvel ice cream company. And Crazy Eddie? They were terrible, but I loved them! So maybe Cheng is on to something with the personal approach, because the company is going strong.
AV-Test, the independent security testing lab, gave PC Matic a perfect score in Protection and Performance in their latest round of testing. They dinged PC Matic in the Usability category, due to a number of false positives for legitimate software. But that's the beauty of whitelisting. If a program is not on the list of "known good" programs, PC Matic puts up a warning and only lets it run if the user approves.
So yes, 18 months ago I gave my credit card number to PC Matic, paid the $50 and became the owner of a 5-seat license. I confess it felt weird to buy software I had not thoroughly checked out. But all those recommendations from my own readers and the money-back guarantee persuaded me to give it a try, and thus far I'm a very happy camper.
Last month I upgraded my last Windows 7 laptop to Windows 10, so I decided to install the PC Matic software on that computer. There were a few minor glitches in my 2018 install, but this time everything worked flawlessly. The software started up and prompted me to run an initial scan. To my surprise, it flagged three potentially malicious programs that Avast had allowed in. There was also an option to turn on the PC Matic Adblocker extension.
PC Matic seems to have little concern for aesthetics and other trappings of software “coolness.” IObit's Advanced SystemCare, a competing PC optimizer, always annoyed me with skins and themes and other things I could not care less about. Instead, PC Matic focuses on improving performance and security. 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.
In other words, PC Matic is software for us Elder Geeks. I like it!
Easy to Use and Understand
Super Shield is the real-time antivirus scanner 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. Super Shield blocks polymorphic threats (malware that evolves as it spreads), and also catches emerging threats such as fileless malware and ransomware. If you are currently running another anti-virus program, you should disable or uninstall it before turning on SuperShield. Click the Super Shield icon on the main screen to enable or disable the Super Shield protection.
Clicking the “Scan” button launches multiple clean-up, optimize, and security scan 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, you can review the results. Any malicious files, outdated software and drivers, or unneeded junk files will be reported. Clicking "Next" 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. 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.
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 scantook only half the time of the first scan I ran on this machine.
While using the program, I got a few cryptic popup messages. 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. 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 Super Shield, and aside from the few cosmetic glitches, so far I'm very pleased and impressed. Over the past year and a half, it has done a great job of protecting several computers in my home and office from ransomware and other threats. The regularly scheduled scans and optimizations keep them running smoothly.
If you are looking for an all-in-one PC optimizer/cleaner/security tool, PC Matic is an excellent choice, and my current recommendation.
Have you tried PC Matic? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Feb 2020
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Review: PC Matic Gets a Zero! (Posted: 20 Feb 2020)
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Most recent comments on "Review: PC Matic Gets a Zero!"(See all 85 comments for this article.)
24 Feb 2021
After the "Great Avast Debacle", I dropped my license with them. I paid the $150 for the evergreen license and installed PC Matic on 3 computers and a laptop. Almost right away, there were serious problems with one of my machines. Support ran me in circles for just over a month 71 requests for support according to my email and that's just one computer.. I finally had to format and reload Windows 7 (which they advised against) in order to use the machine. Then the second and third machines started having problems. Again had to format and reload. Came to find out that you can't run CCleaner, Superantispyware, Glary, Malwarebytes and a host of other programs.
Lets face it, no one program catches everything. I've always used and will continue to use a few other programs to keep my system as clean as is possible. Then came the biggie. PC Matic failed to do anything about the optimization of the computers so I added my old stand by Advanced System Care which I've used for years. The difference was astounding. Everything and I do mean everything is so much faster. It's incredible. However, PC Matic has in all their wisdom labeled it as a VIRUS. and won't allow it to run. In fact, you wouldn't believe the high handed response I just got from tech support. I couldn't believe it.
I'm now in the process of disabling PC Matic on all systems. I'll add a free antivirus until I can figure out what I'm going to do about PC Matic. Needless to say, I'm pretty ticked with them right now. BTW, 3 win 7 machines and 1 Win 10.
23 Apr 2021
Thanks for your great explanation Bob. I am a local elder geek and assist quite a number of seniors with their computer issues. If they want my help they have to either have PC Matic or agree to install it as the first order of me doing anything to assist. I have been with them almost since I first heard about their method of protection and it just made so much sense. In all the years of working with people it is only a very rare occurrence that I have to pay a second visit. It is an amazing product and I am surprised it took you so long to get on board. Thanks for all the great material you publish. It really helps so many people.
07 Jun 2021
Been using PC-Matic many years since reading Ask Bob about it. My daughter had some infection on her school computer so I installed PC Matic and it fixed it right up. Another time my wife also had some issues and again - installed PC Matic - no more problems. I have two PCs so we are using 4 of the 5 available installations, and we have been problem-free since I loaded it on all the machines.
PC MATIC CUSTOMER` SERVICE ®(850~400~8234) ® Phone Number ANTIVIRUS Care Support Helpdesk
16 Jun 2021
How to Contact PC Matic Support Service +1 850-400-8234?
There are many ways by which you may contact the official support team of PC Matic as given below.
Through PC Matic Application
Click on the Support button from the upper right-hand corner of your dashboard.
From here, you may visit the forums, view the user guide as well as choose get support now to contact the PC matic support team.
Through PC Matic Website
To get the support, you may directly visit the official helpline page i.e. pcmatic.com/help.
On this page, you need to fill out a ticket to contact the team.
It is also possible to get in touch with the support team through Email.
You will receive help via email from email@example.com.
If you don’t receive an email from this email address then you check your spam or junk folder.
25 Jul 2021
I used to have TrendMicro which was too slow. I switched to Norton for many years but one day when I had a problem and contacted their service department I started getting calls from people who were not with Norton who seemed to know all about the problem I was having and wanted to charge me $100 to fix it. Turns out someone at Norton was selling or giving away my information. I contacted Norton and they tried to blame it on me and said there was something wrong with my computer but when they scanned it they found nothing. They didn't seem to really care that this happened. So I dumped them because they can't be trusted. I then went with Bitdefender which is a Romanian company. They have been great, but one day I noticed all my SPAM listing were missing and it would not save any additional listings. I filed a report and they had me upload some files automatically threw their system which I was not happy about. Weeks later there has been no response. I called them and they said they have my information and they will get to it, but still nothing. So I rate them poor on service. I am thinking about PC Matic. I just want a company I can trust. Hopefully if I go with them they will be the one.
06 Sep 2021
I bought PCMatic after Bob's initial recommendation. Very satisfied, as no problems after using for several years. It even protects my wife's computer!
13 Sep 2021
I use Kaspersky, it has NO backdoors to NSA or other snoopers.
16 Sep 2021
I was one of the early adopters of PCMatic and bought the Evergreen package back when it first came out. I recognized the whitelist model as the same model that we all use in our organizations. We don’t let anyone in to have free reign unless we know they are a good actor. Why should our computers be any different. My only concern with computer security since installing PCMatic is that I never have any problems. I sometimes wonder if I’m having trouble and PCMatic just isn’t catching it. But then I chalk that up to the paranoia inside me that is in my genetic makeup and drive on. I have not had a single computer issue since installing PCMatic in 2018. I could not say the same for all the predecessors that I tried.
05 Nov 2021
For 3 decades I've paid for and tried various digital prophylactics, including the biggest names, on my personal PC's running Win XP, 7 and 10. I've had major issues with all of them except ESET, which I've used for several years now, and like. I'm only considering a change to PC Matic because it's 100% USA-made. In today's world it just doesn't make sense for this American to trust my IT security to a Slovakian company.
DAVID M SMITH
01 Dec 2021
Been using PCMATIC from its beginning. Love it
16 Dec 2021
I have had PC Matic for a while now and it has been excellent. After a year I opted for the $150 lifetime package which cost me $100 as they included the first year in the price and have not been sorry since. Now if I can jam with their band it would be perfect.
01 Jan 2022
Is my memory faulty, or do I remember that at one time Mr. Bob highly recommended AVG / Avast to everyone? He's now enthusiastic about PC Matic. Maybe I should wait??
02 Feb 2022
I attempted to help a friend who was applying for a job and he had only a phone to do it on. The job sent him an application to be filled an returned. He could not do it on his phone. I used my computer to download the application and now my phone is receiving his gmail. I managed to delete is info, however it remains embedded firmly on my phone with his login information. I attempted to remove it and Google says, it can't be done? I cannot fully utilize google due to his being the "main login". I don't know if this fully explain my predicament. I am a novice at all this IT stuff and at a loss for a solution.
Thank You for your consideration..
Nora Poki Carr
28 Feb 2022
I was having trouble with my classroom computers. I had AVAST and Malwarebytes on them - BOO! TRASH! I swapped for PC Matic and have had NOT ONE problem since then. I also was gifted extra months of protection following listed comments of my experience with PC Matic. I have been anti-virus secure for almost a year and will be purchasing the lifetime coverage in Dec. 2022.
13 Apr 2022
thank you for this article, Bob, I too have been using PC Matic for about the same amount of time and have found it virtually iron-clad saft.
Joseph L Vega
24 Jun 2022
Bob, I have been using PC-Matic for the past 5 years and never had any problems, but this year it has been different, something is going on inside, service is terrible, I always had my computer scan automatically and all of a sudden, they stop doing it, and has been very difficult for me to get it back in auto scan. To this day they have not fix the problem. I would suggest a new review.
02 Aug 2022
Bob, Ihave been using McAffee for years and it seems to be doing a good job. Is there anything that PC Matic does and that McAffee doesn't and vice versa?
24 Oct 2022
Bought pc matic,loaded it on my computer and it locked my operating system.cost me $250 to get it removed and repaired.
Do not recommend it,be careful. Also,customer service stinks.
27 Oct 2022
It seems that the recent postings on this thread are MUCH LESS positive than the older posts.
Makes me wonder what was / is happening at PC MATIC headquarters. Has it been sold? Did someone quit?
I was about ready to buy it, until I read the last few posts. Now, I need to do more research.
Thanks to all for posting your experiences. And, of course, a big THANK YOU to Bob.
17 Mar 2023
I too upgraded a Windows 7 Laptop, to Windows 10. An Acer to be exact. I bought PC Matic and tried and tried to get it to run on that laptop with no success. I am on a newer laptop now an I am planning on trying it again. I am currently using Avast, but am getting so tiered of paying for all the different pieces of the puzzle, and still don't have all the pieces. I'm already over $200.00 a year now. This is going to change.
Thank you for the info.
P.S. I was considering Norton 360, but one of the main issue I did not like about Norton is they don't do drive updates.