In a word, no. MacKeeper is not a scam. It is also not a virus. It is a genuine piece of software, but here at Mac Expert Guide we thought it worth investigating further…
MacKeeper by Zeobit, LLC is a multi-functional system utility for Mac OS X which consists of 16 tools for security, system optimization and cleanup. The program has caused much debate and controversy because of Zeobit’s marketing tactics and also because of users reporting that the software itself is actually malware.
For more than 4 years, I have run my own computer repair company. During that time, I have come across quite a few Macs that have MacKeeper installed. If these computers were running as they should be, the customer would not be coming to me for help. In every case where MacKeeper has been installed, it has been the main culprit of the problem.
Despite all the good reviews by professionals, I am personally skeptical about this one. Even if MacKeeper does its job well for some users, there are a majority who found that the software caused severe problems on their Mac. So, I had to see for myself what MacKeeper is really like.
An evaluation of MacKeeper
Installing the software is a breeze, it’s just an ordinary Apple installer package. Once that is done, you’ll see the MacKeeper icon in your menu bar. MacKeeper has a Helper process which runs in the background all the time and it starts automatically at login.
The MacKeeper summary window displays an overview of the various tools available.
The first feature I tested was the ‘Fast cleanup’ which identified 624.6 MB of ‘junk’ on a fresh Mac OS X 10.8 install. The bulk of this was removing non-English language translations from applications (an overrated feature because Mac drives are so large these days a couple hundred megabytes doesn’t make much difference). The ‘Fast Cleanup’ feature is quite thorough and gives you a choice of which files to remove. It also worked very best during both the scan and remove stages.
The disk usage feature is similar to that offered by OmniDiskSweeper, providing a column view by default to show the largest files in each directory. The utility offered by MacKeeper is clearer to read than OmniDiskSweeper, and the scan was very quick as well.
The Smart Uninstaller offers a feature akin to that of Windows Add & Remove Programs and also the Uninstaller list provided by CCleaner. It also lists installed plugins in Safari, Dictionary, QuickLook, iTunes, QuickTime and Spotlight – I don’t know of another piece of software which lets you easily remove plugins on Mac OS X.
I tried an antivirus scan which didn’t take too long (on an empty Mac with a fresh install of Mountain Lion), during the scan it used up to 50% CPU. I think on an older Mac system, probably the original Intel Core Duo models, performance may have been hindered during a scan. The MacKeeper Helper process used about 100MB memory during my testing. The MacKeeper application used about 45MB memory.
The overall interface provided by the software is clear and consistent, and it is easy to use. There is a right-hand sidebar which includes 24/7 customer support details and provides links to tutorials and the manual. This is a well documented piece of software.
Uninstalling or removing MacKeeper completely from your Mac is not an easy task. To say this is genuine software and not malware, ZeoBit has made it very difficult and awkward for the average user to remove the software from their Mac. I have written a guide about how to remove MacKeeper from your Mac.
What Is Missing?
While MacKeeper offers a good set of functionality, I wouldn’t say it’s the best multifunctional tool I’ve ever seen for the Mac. Similar tools usually include Disk Permissions/Disk Repair features, hidden parameter settings and Automation features.
By using a combination of free tools, you can get the functionality of MacKeeper without the worry that comes with it. While I didn’t have any issues while using the trial version, I cannot ignore the fact that this software has caused problems for several of my customers in the past. If the software is meant to be as good as the professionals say, then ZeoBit needs to improve the reliability and iron out the problems people are experiencing.
Onyx (read Mac Expert Guide review)