MacKeeper front screen
|Developer(s)||Zeobit, Kromtech Alliance|
|Initial release||October 1, 2010|
4.6.2 / April 2019
|Operating system||macOS (Mac OS X Leopard or later)|
|Available in||18 languages|
|License||Proprietary commercial software|
MacKeeper is utility software distributed by Kromtech Alliance. It is known for being heavily promoted through aggressive advertising and affiliate marketing. MacKeeper faced a class-action lawsuit because the company allegedly deceived users into paying for unneeded fixes. The lawsuit was settled in 2015 for US $2 million without any admission of guilt by the company.
As of May 2019[update], five major versions of MacKeeper had been released. The first beta version, MacKeeper 0.8, was released on 13 May 2010. MacKeeper 1.0 was released on October 26, 2010. MacKeeper 2.0 was released on 30 January 2012 at Macworld – iWorld with an expanded number of utilities related to security, data control, cleaning and optimization. Kromtech Alliance acquired MacKeeper from Zeobit in April 2013. MacKeeper 3.0 was released in June 2014 as software as a service with a new "human expert" feature and optimization with OS X Yosemite. In July 2018, MacKeeper 4.0 was released.
MacKeeper was initially developed in 2009 by Zeobit. In April 2013, Zeobit sold MacKeeper to Kromtech Alliance Corp. Kromtech was closely affiliated with Zeobit in Ukraine and hired many former Kiev-based Zeobit employees. In December 2015 security researcher Chris Vickery discovered a publicly accessible database of 21GB of MacKeeper user data on the internet, exposing the usernames, passwords and other information of over 13 million MacKeeper users. According to Kromtech this was the result of a "server misconfiguration" and the error was "fixed within hours of the discovery".
It integrates Avira's anti-malware scanning engine, but some versions opened a critical security hole. The filesystem-level encryption tool can encrypt files or folders with a password. The data recovery utility permits users to recover unintentionally deleted files. A backup software is also included, which can copy files to a USB flash drive, External HDD or FTP server. The data erasure permits users to permanently delete files although PC World argues that this feature duplicates the secure empty trash feature formerly built into macOS. The disk cleaner finds and removes junk files on the hard drive in order to free up space.
Version 1.0 and 2.0
The earlier bundles received mixed reviews, with reviewers being divided as to the effectiveness of the software. Macworld gave MacKeeper 3.5 out of 5 stars in August 2010, based on the 0.9.6 build of the program, and found it a reasonably priced set of tools but experienced lagging while switching between tools. MacLife rated it at 2.5 out of 5 and said it to be useful mainly for freeing up drive space, but found other features offered inconsistent results and believed most users won’t need its antivirus feature. AV-Comparatives found that MacKeeper had an excellent ability to detect Mac-based malware. They noted that it was "very well suited to enthusiasts who have a good understanding of security issues, but not ideal for non-expert users who need pre-configured optimal security for their Macs." OPSWAT awarded the program a Gold Certification for protecting users against anti-phishing attempts as well as spyware and malware. Zeobit claims that negative attacks were launched against MacKeeper by an unnamed competitor, and that many users and press were confusing MacKeeper with another application.
Reviews of the latest software version have been largely negative. A May 2015 test by PC World found that MacKeeper identified the need for extensive corrections on brand new fully patched machines. In December 2015, Business Insider and iMore suggested users avoid the product and not install it. Top Ten Reviews has removed MacKeeper from its top 10 ranking noting that the software had more features than its competitors but its performance in Mac malware identification tests showed other software had better detection rates, resulting in a score of 7.5 out of 10. A July 2017 AV-TEST assessment found MacKeeper only detected 85.9 percent of the tested malware.
MacKeeper has been criticized for being very difficult to uninstall; both Tom's Guide and MacWorld have published how-to guides for deleting the software. According to MacWorld, users frequently ask how they can get rid of MacKeeper. Sophos and Malwarebytes, both competing vendors to Kromtech in the anti-virus software market, have identified MacKeeper as a potentially unwanted program; Sophos reported MacKeeper as 2017's most prolific macOS potentially unwanted program. MacWorld observed that aggressive MacKeeper advertising leads people to believe that the software is either malware or a scam, when it is neither; MacWorld also notes that some pop-up and pop-under ads may be due to third-party installers. Computerworld described MacKeeper as "a virulent piece of software that promises to cure all your Mac woes, but instead just makes things much worse". Softonic.com described the software as "not perfect, but genuinely useful" while also noting MacKeeper exaggerates the threat associated with a user not having a security app.
Multiple reviewers have criticized Zeobit's marketing and promotional techniques. Kromtech buys upwards of 60 million ad impressions a month, making it one of the largest buyers of web traffic aimed at Mac users. Zeobit has been accused of employing misleading advertising with regard to its promotion of MacKeeper, including aggressive affiliate marketing, pop-under ads and planting sockpuppet reviews as well as websites set up to discredit their competitors. Kromtech has also had issues with affiliate advertisers, attracted by the 50 percent commissions Kromtech pays for sales of MacKeeper, who have wrapped MacKeeper ads into adware. In 2018, Kromtech began to take steps against affiliate marketers it said were scamming users.
In January 2014 a class action lawsuit was filed against Zeobit in Illinois. The lawsuit alleged that "neither the free trial nor the full registered versions of MacKeeper performed any credible diagnostic testing" and reported that a consumer's Mac was in need of repair and was at-risk due to harmful error. In May 2014 a lawsuit was filed against Zeobit in Pennsylvania, alleging that MacKeeper fakes security problems to deceive victims into paying for unneeded fixes. On 10 August 2015, Zeobit settled a class action lawsuit against it for US$2 million. Customers who bought MacKeeper before 8 July 2015 can apply to get a refund.
Kromtech also filed at least two unsuccessful lawsuits against those it perceives are defaming them. In July 2013 Kromtech filed a lawsuit against Macpaw, the developers of CleanMyMac. Kromtech alleged that Macpaw employees created several usernames and posts on several websites defaming the MacKeeper software. The case was dismissed before the hearing. A year later, in 2014, Kromtech again filed a lawsuit against David A. Cox alleging that he defamed Kromtech by calling MacKeeper a fraudulent application in a YouTube video. The judge dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. In July 2016, Kromtech sent a cease and desist letter to Luqman Wadood, a 14-year old technology reviewer for alleged harassment and slander of the MacKeeper brand in a number of YouTube videos. Luqman said the videos were diplomatic.
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