Be wary of fake, misleading “reviews”

While surfing the internet today an interesting advertisement masquerading as a news headline caught my eye. “How to Speed Up Your PC – Tricks Manufacturers Hate”. Well that’s an interesting title. Sounds very much like the now familiar “this shocking…”, “this stunning trick”, “don’t do …. until you read this” and other misleading headlines we see all over the place. Well as a computer geek my curiosity got the better of me.

The link took me to an article on a website called “How Life Works“. I read this article that’s posing as an information piece. It’s really just an advertisement scam for software called ARO 2013 written by support.com, the creators of the software. I have seen the trick used before. Companies write articles posing as (third party) information pieces and submit them to sites like How Life Works. As a side note I found it particularly ironic that “How Life Works” also sports an article on “how affiliate programs work”. Unfortunately it was so littered with seven pages of ads it continuously crashed my browser and I had to close it down before I could read the whole thing.

Anyways, this article quickly delivers the tricks that manufacturers hate. Clean up registry errors and remove spyware and malware. The solution to all your computer maladies and has manufacturers foaming at the mouth is a trial version of ARO 2013 that you can buy for only $29.95. The article concludes with “Follow the above advice, and your PC should stay fast and safe.” I start looking around at other websites. I found a review on Cnet proudly giving it four stars, but anything the author had written was primarily advertising pieces. A few readers quickly pounced and contradicted the “review”. Such a shame as Cnet used to be known for it’s unbiased and fair reviews, not misleading rubbish.

A Google search reveals numerous keyword-laden “review sites” like this fraudulent site that give the product great scores with a huge “buy now” button (any time you see a “review” with a buy button for the product, run). Some of them went into elaborate detail, breaking down their scores into various categories. At the end of the day just an elaborate scheme to get you to that buy button powered by an affiliate link that gives them a commission off of each successful sale.

Well, if you’re adventurous and want to dig deeper the truth about this product starts to become apparent. As soon as you install it it finds a whole bunch of false positives and “problems” that are just a normal part of running Windows. It will even remove the first fifty of the thousands of items for free. It then starts showing frequent popups, begging you to buy it and not allowing you to uninstall it. Restore points prior to its installation are reportedly deleted. Computer performance is significantly degraded and in a couple of cases the computer was rendered pretty much unusable. So while we can’t technically call ARO 2013 a scam, although this person begs to differ, we can say we remove this product as part of our tuneups and cleanups of computers.

Now you might be wondering why I’m pointing this out. Well, at the end of the day the reality is that despite all it’s promise, the internet is becoming a haven of falsehoods to fool consumers and take their hard-earned money. It’s becoming harder and harder to find out what is legitimate and what isn’t. It’s getting to the point where you can’t trust anything you read, where people can pretend to be anything they want to be and say whatever they want without consequence and that’s a crying shame. It’s becoming more important than ever to find an expert in the field that you can trust to help you navigate this “mine field” and make smart, educated choices. For example we can tell you that you can get Ccleaner for free and it actually does what it says it will.

While we’ll never know everything there is to know about every product out there, we can help you make sound decisions when it comes to your computers and related IT. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find it for you.  Collectively we’ve been in computers for well over a century and research products on an ongoing basis to ensure we can bring the best value and recommendations to our clients. Trust Northern Protocol to help you make sense of it all. Contact us at 705.739.2.FIX (349). We’re here to help!