EXCLUSIVE: MacKeeper Says “Unethical Competitor Trying to Tarnish Our Reputation”

MacKeeper

In April of last year, Apple Gazette published a review of a very popular piece of software called MacKeeper. Currently, there are over 80 reader comments on that review — most of which are extremely negative. Yet MacKeeper is a well-reviewed piece of software, with universally positive marks. So what’s going on here?

Since we first posted our review of MacKeeper, it’s become one of our most-visited pages, consistently ranking in our top 5 overall pages. It’s become so high in traffic that if you search for “MacKeeper” on Google, our review is (at the time of this writing) on Google’s first page of results. Clearly, something about our review (or the reader comments therein) has struck a nerve.

MacKeeper's Home screen

ZeoBit, the company behind MacKeeper, contacted Apple Gazette recently with a surprising claim of why their app has gotten so many negative comments: ZeoBit believes that it is the target of a smear campaign by one of its competitors. I asked that this competing company be named, but ZeoBit stated that they have no desire to start a war — though they did ask if we could give their counter-arguments a forum.

Allow me to be clear: as an unbiased publication, Apple Gazette takes no side on this issue. But given that the naysayers have had the floor for over a year now, we feel it’s fair to give ZeoBit equal opportunity to defend itself. We encourage our readers to examine both sides of this issue, and draw your own conclusions.

Just the Facts

Before we get to ZeoBit’s rebuttal, let’s look at some data.

One of the most common reader complaints you’ll see on our review page is that MacKeeper uses too many system resources, rendering Macs slow and unusable. ZeoBit provided the following data based on their documented studies of MacKeeper’s CPU usage:

  • MacKeeper’s “Undelete” process, which only runs when you manually activate it, uses a maximum of 45% CPU
  • The “Helper” process, which runs actively in the background, uses a maximum of 1% CPU, and 7MB RAM
  • Anti-theft process, running actively in the background, uses a maximum of .5% CPU
  • Antivirus process while scanning your hard drive uses a maximum of 12% CPU and 120MB RAM
  • Antivirus process with real-time protection uses a maximum of 40% CPU and 120MB RAM

ZeoBit points out that 40% of CPU usage on that last one might seem high, but the maximum is only reached when an external attack occurs.

MacKeeper's "Undelete" utility

The numbers will differ based on your Mac’s memory and processing options, as well as how much and what software you have installed, so no two cases will be identical. And it’s worth noting, though obvious, that if you run multiple MacKeeper scans or processes at once, it will result in significantly higher CPU usage.

For the purposes of this article, I downloaded and installed MacKeeper myself, and my results confirmed ZeoBit’s claims. I experienced no discernible issues, with CPU usage well within normal specs. The only time I noted a system slowdown was when I had MacKeeper run multiple system scans at one time. Anyone who’s ever run a disk defrag or other utility that scans their entire hard disk knows that by their very nature, these processes require a lot of system resources. But they should not cause the kinds of constant system hiccups that are described in our review’s comments.

That said, I have a high-end, current-generation MacBook Pro, and I imagine that system resources slowing down could be noticeable on an older, less powerful Mac. Yet this would be true when using any system utility that runs at optimal performance under modern specs. I also had no problems uninstalling it.

Another fact to consider is that MacKeeper is available to buy in the Mac App Store. Apple has very strict rules on what gets approved for the App Store, and short of major lapses in judgment, does not allow apps that cause severe problems for Macs. From the official Mac App Store Review Guidelines:

  • 2.3  Apps that do not perform as advertised by the developer will be rejected
  • 2.4  Apps that include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected
  • 2.23  Apps that spawn processes that continue to run after a user has quit the app without user consent will be rejected
  • 9.1  Apps that encourage users to use an Apple product in a way that may cause damage to the device will be rejected

Each of these points speaks directly to claims from our commenters, yet one must ask… Why would Apple allow a program that violates these rules into their App Store?

So They Say

MacKeeper's Antivirus screen

Macworld gave MacKeeper 3.5 stars in an August 2010 review. Their review is based on the 0.9.6 build of the program, which has currently advanced to version 1.8.3. Macworld mentions a “frequent lag when switching between tools,” but ZeoBit claims that this issue has been resolved in newer versions of the app. Macworld sums up their review with this:

Overall, for anyone who needs to use system maintenance tools and needs tech support on a regular basis, MacKeeper offers a compelling set of tools at a very reasonable price. It also gives you the power to clean your Mac and the peace of mind to locate it if it gets lost or stolen.

Maclife says:

We had no problems on our test Macs before running MacKeeper and none afterward. In fact, we had gigabytes of extra drive space and zero viruses — surprise, surprise — to show for using it. The individual utilities do their jobs and are mostly simple to use.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog says:

MacKeeper does a whole lot and quite easily. It’d be worth it for cleanups alone, but add in scheduled backups, data encryption, “undelete” (which helps recover accidentally deleted files) Wise Installer and more, and you’ve got a heck of a nice application.

AppStorm says:

Aside from the bit of trouble I encountered with the Update Tracker feature, MacKeeper performed excellently. When you really dig in and start using this app it’s hard not to be impressed at just how much functionality they crammed into a single app.

AppleTell gives it 4 stars:

MacKeeper is a winner, and you can try it for free by downloading the trial from the MacKeeper site. Have fun with it. It’s worth it.

There are dozens more such reviews here. It’s unlikely that an app that causes serious problems for users would be given positive marks by reputable reviewers such as these. It’s also worth noting that MacKeeper currently has 64,247 fans on Facebook and 9,707 followers on Twitter. That’s a lot of satisfied customers.

ZeoBit’s Statement

Here’s ZeoBit’s statement, wherein they explain what MacKeeper does, and give details on the smear tactics they claim to have been subjected to.

MacKeeper is not a virus or malware. MacKeeper is a bundled utility that helps you manage your data. It’s an award-winning bundle of 16 essential applications that’s trusted and used by Mac users around the world.

MacKeeper's Duplicate Finder utility

In May/June of 2011 ZeoBit was the victim of a massive, negative PR campaign by an unethical competitor who used paid blog posts, advertisements, and an army of comment and forum spammers to make false claims and scare our potential customers. It’s all too easy on the Internet for anyone to have their reputation destroyed at any time, for any reason. Many industry professionals use MacKeeper and have given it their approval. MacKeeper has won numerous awards and ZeoBit is listed as one of the top 10 antivirus developers in the world, according to the Reactive and Proactive Test from VB100. We focus on our products and service, while our competitors focus on trying to tarnish our reputation. We intend to continue investing in our research and development to make the best applications possible. We believe that focusing on our products, instead of wasting time slandering our competitors, is a much better business strategy in the long run.

It’s our highest priority to constantly improve MacKeeper and the service it provides. The quality of our product and our level of customer satisfaction is unequaled. In the software market, the average percentage of refunds is 3%, while ZeoBit’s is less than 1%. Our customers can ask for a refund anytime during their first 365 days with the product.

One frequent criticism claims that “MacKeeper is impossible to uninstall.” The truth is, it’s very easy. Simply drag-and-drop MacKeeper’s icon from your Applications folder into the trash, and then follow the on-screen instructions. If you need step-by-step directions, a page on our website provides visual descriptions of how to uninstall the app.

A question we’re often asked is, “Is MacKeeper connected with Mac Defender?” No! MacKeeper is in no way affiliated with Mac Defender. Mac Defender (also known as Mac Protector, Mac Security, Mac Guard, and Mac Shield) is a rogue Internet security program that can be unwittingly installed on Mac OS X. Mac security firm Intego discovered this fake antivirus software on May 2, 2011. Our competitors took advantage of this situation by making false claims that MacKeeper is affiliated with Mac Defender. It should be noted that Mac Defender was traced to ChronoPay by the email address of ChronoPay financial controller Alexandra Volkov. The email address appeared in the domain registration for “mac-defence.com” and “macbookprotection.com”, two websites unsuspecting users are directed to in order to purchase this malware. ChronoPay is Russia’s largest online payment processor. The websites were hosted in Germany and were suspended by Czech registrar Webpoint. ChronoPay had earlier been linked to another scam in which users involved in file sharing were asked to pay a fine. MacKeeper, on the other hand, has been certified 100% clean and safe from industry experts, and has never been charged as a scam or fined in any way.

Another statement we see often is, “I hate your pop-up ads on my favorite website!” We believe in our products and want others to know about them, and the only way to do that is through mass media and online advertising. Our ads are reviewed and approved by the most respected vendors and media ad agencies in the world. Our advertising is in full compliance with their standards, terms, and conditions. We at ZeoBit want Mac users to get the most out of their machine and we’re proud to have so many happy MacKeeper users. Our team is focused on making a good product that makes a difference — and that includes informing the public through the use of advertisements.

ZeoBit LLC is a progressive information and technologies company that has offices located in Sunnyvale, CA and Kiev, Ukraine. We care about our customers and we care about the quality of our products and services. If you have any questions regarding the products or services of ZeoBit LLC, we would like to hear from you. We are always happy to discuss who we are and what we do. Please send your inquiries to [email protected] I hope this clears up any questions you may have about MacKeeper.

About Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

Comments

  1. I was wondering why no one ever talked about this because I have used MacKeeper for the last year and have never had any problems. There is no way that so many trusted sites would write some pretty good reviews if MacKeeper was anything other than a legitimate program. Great article and thanks for clearing it up and adding some reality to the discussion.

  2. John Thomas says:

    You know even Norton one of the best security software programs in the world also gets allot of idiot comment trolls saying it crashed their system and destroyed their lives, read the comments: http://www.macworld.com/article/134302/2008/07/nav11.html

    This is Norton a billion dollar company! Hahaha
    I have seen some of the comments about MacKeeper and now I assume the same self proclaimed Mac Experts are trashing them, because the real product reviews are fine to me. I am going to try MacKeeper.

    • “This is Norton a billion dollar company! Hahaha”

      No. This is Symantec. There is no ‘Norton’ company. And sad to say, for many years Symantec’s Norton security software for Mac was worst in class. In 2005 Symantec’s response to criticism was not to improve their software, but to FUD the Mac platform with threatening comments about impending malware doom. It never happened. Scaring victims into buying your software. Yeah, that’s a company I want to support with my money. I think not.

      • There is no Norton, there is no tooth fairy, there is no Sana. Thanks for the update buddy. However, you don’t like their advertising, ok we get it. I don’t like advertising either of any kind but I do like that song by Justin Timberlake “Cry Me a River”.

  3. I agree with the other post. I have used Mac for a couple of years now and have never had any issues until recently. I researched online and found Mackeeper. I downloaded it and it fixed my problems. Since that download, I have not even noticed it being on my computer. I am not a big “what-all-can-it-do” kinda of user. I just want the computer to do what I want and do it fast. Mackeeper restored my MacBook Pro to that state. I also own business’ and despise the fact that just anyone can smear a product or service without any accountability! I appreciate this article being posted to help level the playing field.

  4. 67 fake re-tweets of this article are saying opposite!

    • Hm. Looking at Twitter.com’s list of those retweets, I have no idea if they’re “fake” or not, but I can assure you that those people were not instructed to make those retweets by anyone at Splashpress Media.

      • I just looked through the list of twitter users who re-tweeted this article – most of them are re-tweeting same posts! This means that this are bought tweets and have no connection with a real people. ZeoBit is trying to make this article more public in all possible ways. In the same time they are complaining that someone is spoiling their reputation.

  5. I reviewed ZeoBIT’s abusive Marketing Moron tactics back in August, 2011. You can read my analysis HERE:

    http://mac-security.blogspot.com/2011/08/zeobit-mackeeper-crapware-marketing.html

    Let me quote from Daniel Feeney’s article about MacKeeper:

    “Mostly what they do is take existing features of your operating system and put it in one place, and make you pay for the privilege. Add in their aggressive marketing, the fact it uses Wine (classic half-assed windows developers trying to cash in on gullible Mac users), and the reports of horrible system performance after installing this crap, and well, do you really want to deal with it?”

    http://themacfeed.com/2011/06/17/mackeeper-a-rather-slimy-tale/

    • It have not used wine since it first came out. You have never even used MacKeeper just quoting a crap blogger trying to make money on pay per click ads. Imagine if you had a real hobby or maybe even friends?

      • We’re discussing the abusive marketing strategies and weak quality of MacKeeper, not me, not you, not bloggers. All you did was troll. Point FAILed. You can do better.

  6. > In May/June of 2011 ZeoBit was the victim of a massive, negative PR campaign by an unethical competitor who used paid blog posts, advertisements, and an army of comment and forum spammers to make false claims and scare our potential customers.

    MacKeeper is not very bad app, it just still have a great number of issues and bugs.
    But their PR company and its fake reviews and sites say that MacKeeper is exactly the company which has an army of comment and forum spammers, and not competitors.

    I believe that people can distinguish bought messages from real.

  7. I am wondering how people buy this app without reading customer reviews on forums and blogs, but after they bought it they find those forums to complain. Well ok, they are just users. But how could Robin believe the claims of this spammy-scammy group of people, or…. he wanted some extra traffic

    • Actually, I love giving anal Apple fans nit-picky things to complain about, so they can go on feeling superior to everyone else with their knowledge of Apple minutia. Take a look around the site’s comments and you’ll see how successful I am! ;)

      • So your point, Robin, was to troll. What a great reason for me to toss you on my Troller Black List and avoid your work in the future. Is that what you expected as well? Who ends up dropping their mask here and showing THEIR need to feel ‘superior’? Yeah, you.

        My point? I help people. Please make the attempt yourself.

        • Sorry if I offended. My comment had nothing whatsoever to do with the person I was replying to, or Zeobit.

          I get very tired of the favorite hobby of a vocal minority of our readers who seem to take great joy in scouring my articles, looking for hairs to split. I’ve written for probably more than a dozen different websites, magazines, blogs, and whatnot over the years, and never have I encountered fans and readers who are SO INCREDIBLY PARTICULAR about every single teeny tiny nitpicky little detail. I know it speaks to the passion of Apple enthusiasts, and I do love their enthusiasm and applaud it, but sometimes it just goes way over the edge.

          Look. I’m a regular guy, trying to support my family, never making enough money or finding enough hours in the day to do all that’s required of him, who dies inside a little bit every time I have to tell my kids I can’t play right now or I can’t have a conversation with my wife, because i have to work. So yeah, it gets under my skin when the majority of the feedback I get after making those sacrifices is one criticism or complaint after another about things that don’t matter to anybody except the person doing the complaining.

          Don’t get me wrong. You don’t work in journalism without developing thick skin over time, and most of the time it doesn’t bother me. But there are days when it feels like some people have unrealistic expectations of absolute, unfailing perfection when they come here. And I’m the one who gets all bruised up when those expectations haven’t been met.

          Also, for the record: we ran the MacKeeper article after being approached by the people at Zeobit, who asked for nothing more than the opportunity to answer the many, many criticisms being lobbed at them. It seemed like the fair thing to do. And yes, of course we’re always looking for more readers and more ad impressions. Name me one website that’s not. Without readers, you don’t survive in this business. But we never set out to create any content that violates the common sense rules of journalistic integrity.

  8. Robin, you are a great journalist and your ability to be objective and professional will shine in any article or story that you do. You are 100% right about how anal a small minority of “Self Proclaimed Apple Experts” who are out there preaching the gospel of noise not just about this subject but about everything. They make the Apple community seem like a bunch of egocentric pricks who were picked on in school and now the internet is their fantasy world to right the wrongs in their lives. They are the first to judge the talents and abilities of others and they are overqualified for everything in life, but at least we know they are a small minority of sad people who need attention.

    Robin you are a fine writer and I enjoy reading your work even if I do or do not always agree. Derek Currie, I am sure your Black List is as long and shallow as the Earth is wide and with your super ultra amazing awesomeness it allows you the divine freedom to choose what you read. Well Robin, it looks like you just lost the 2nd most important person in the Apple community as a reader and despite such a tragic loss of the honor and privilege of Mr. Currie’s readership, I do believe you will carry on my friend.

  9. Looks like the debate is going to rage on about MacKeeper for a while judging on these comments!

  10. David Jones says:

    I talked with a couple Tuaw editors and writers and they have issues with that quote.

    “MacKeeper does a whole lot and quite easily. It’d be worth it for cleanups alone, but add in scheduled backups, data encryption, “undelete” (which helps recover accidentally deleted files) Wise Installer and more, and you’ve got a heck of a nice application.”

    They also said that Mac Keeper installs a bunch of crap which will slow down your computer more then it will speed up… So no thanks… And their devious marketing verges on spam… 

  11. Well I downloaded the program and bought it just to check it out, since I really have no performance issues, but just wanted to try it and thought hey, if my Imac ever get stolen that antitheft thing might be handy (assuming it works).

    Anyway – I ran the scans – it cleaned up some files, turned on the anti virus (“surprise” no viruses)… trued a few others things.

    Looks to me like it works fine – updated my permissions, restarted, tried my most used programs…

    And…

    Nothing – no problems – no bugs – no issues – not really any performance improvement either though, but I run everything on an external server so I dont really use space on the computer for anything but operating system.

    Anyway, of all the bugs I read in the review file I could no repetitions, actually I was a little disappointed haha I actually thought I would encounter serious problems.

    I have so far (6 hours since install) experienced 1 pop up saying – “thank you for installing Mackeeper” – hardly a “spam storm” as some has talked about.

    Anyway – that was my experience – I have absolutely no idea if the program is worth the 40 bucks – since it made no difference on my system, but it didnt do any harm either.

    Ill test the antitheft function next time I bring my computer out on a job and give you an update if it works.

    And no Im not a fake paid blogger – Im just someone who has way too much time on my hands :)

  12. Jack Speed says:

    Hate MacKeeper ads and pop ups. Annoying to say the least. I will never buy a product from them. Use MainMenu and TechTools and these apps are much better than MacKeeper.

  13. Neil Shapiro says:

    Just want to say that I installed MacKeeper and chose to have the real time protection running. My iMac (3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 8 GB RAM) became totally unusable. The Activity Monitor showed that MacKeeper was intermittently using well over 70% of CPU time and a few times actually showed OVER 100% which seems inexplicable and I assume was just meaning 100%. But the computer would stop dead and just run MacKeeper. With real time protection off the program is OK but I am thinking about deleting it.

  14. I have “fixed” two peoples computers in the last 2 months, both of them had MacKeeper installed and said they had had nothing but problems starting from when they downloaded it. I don’t own it, I don’t own any of that kind of software, and if that’s what it does to your computer, I won’t be buying it anytime soon either. On a side note the advertising for it is everywhere, you can’t shift for it. I wonder if it was such a great product if they would have to advertise so aggressively.

  15. David Lloyd says:

    Three brief points, if I may:
    1. Pop-ups, and in particular pop-ups and ads awkwardly floating around on assorted unrelated web pages, have a lengthy and shocking reputation among computer users. People don’t like or trust them (a generalization perhaps, but read what people say about them.)
    2. Unsolicited ads on computers that ‘suggest’ there’s something not quite right with your system, and ‘suggest’ that the solution is to download something right there and then, are about the least trusted and liked of the above category. It’s because everyone has seen dodgy spyware (e.g.) offered this way 100 times over the last 15 years.
    3. MacKeeper uses these methods to advertise, and is surprised that people are turned-off. That’s rather foolish, is it not?

    Zeobit it seems that many people who have used it, rate your software quite highly, but you have created its poor reputation by your marketing strategy. It is this reputation that makes people mistrust it and exaggerate its faults, however minor they may be. The ‘smear campaign’ you speak of is probably the net effect of quantities of normal people behaving in an entirely predictable way when faced with things they just don’t trust.

  16. I have two new 27″ iMacs. Have been using MacKeeper for several months. Not one problem.

  17. Just tried e-mailing “[email protected]” as on the Mac Keeper’s article & it doesn’t exist.

  18. A total piece of SHIT.

  19. I bought the 34quid basic mackeeper, and it doesn’t give me any problem, yet. As people said it makes your mac goes slower, I reckon it’s because it was scanning your mac when at the same time you were doing your 3d-modelling (just to give an example) work. But here is the thing, with the reputation is getting down, how can we get our money back? Is there any procedure to make? Any users here who had gotten their money back?

  20. penguirl says:

    What do they mean they can’t control their affiliate marketers? I’m pretty sure if you stop paying them they will stop their unapproved behaviour.

    Sleazy or questionable business practices come from sleazy or questionable developers. That does not instill much confidence in my mind.

  21. I’m no computer genius, and truth to tell I would classify myself as more of a computer illiterate than anything else. I’m really confused about whether mackeeper is as bad or as useful as people are saying.

    I’ve heard many forums discuss the unethical behavior of zeobit but while the way they choose to advertise or run their business may not be agreeable. That doesn’t equate to their application being malware or junk does it?

  22. Mackeeper has entered the realm of what Orwell warned us about. In two occasions recently, Mackeeper pop-ups occurred while I was engaged in the midst of Net transactions. Equally nasty was once the interruption took place their pop-ups contained no ready way to delete them. I had to either ‘continue’ with their sales pitch or force quit Safari. Quite obviously I made the force quit choice. After the first occurrence I went to the Mackeeper site and chatted with a customer service person who advised me to empty the cache and do such-and-such. I did so, assuming that they were being legit about eliminating the pop-ups only to discover, the next day that the same problem took place. Up till now, after 15 years of computer/Net use, I’ve seen the self-policing by users successful in controlling excesses like the Mackeeper work and have resisted any attempt to get the Feds involved in a regulatory way. I’ll read comments from Apple Gazette on my posting and will concurrently contact Mackeeper one more time and urge them to cease this manipulation of what should be a democratic and non-predatory process. Should both of these correctives fail I’ll contact selected people from my address book and let them know the problem with Mackeeper and urge them to contact their congressional and senatorial reps about this pernicious usurping of respectful behavior; Mackeeper has crossed the ethical line.

  23. Keystroke error on my email address in just-sent comment. Correction made above. Thanks.

  24. As an Authorized Service Provider I don’t have very many good things to say about MacKeeper. If I’m fixing someone’s Mac & one of their complaints is that it’s slow, odds are about 50-50 that MacKeeper is installed. I have seen it cause more problems than it resolves, even damaging Mac OS X.

    If I see it, I strongly advise that it be removed.

  25. Taking time just to say that this program slowed down my new macbook pro a great deal. It’s sad that designers are designing such attractive icons / UI for a product that seems to makes things worse.

  26. Steven Creyelman says:

    I’ve been using MacKeeper for over a year on decent enough system (27″ iMac 3.4GHz i7 with 16GB RAM and a SSD boot drive) and I never encountered any problems with the software. The only thing I don’t use is the updater feature, because I like to be in total control of those.

    I guess the article is quite right about the fanboys not willing to accept the idea Mac viruses and malware exist. I ‘m using both pc and mac and in my experience not having any security is unacceptable.

    My user experience with MacKeeper is good. But that’s just me. Someone who actually bought and installed the software and is using it for over a year now.

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