Don’t waste your money on OS X snake oil for your Mac

“All personal computing platforms get their share of snake oil. Windows certainly had a rich collection. Many were based on Unix code hastily ported; others exploited false impressions about how the platform worked. This is not to say that all purveyors were scheming charlatans, but at some level, even the most honest of them were at least fooling themselves (and you, the customer, as a consequence),” Rixstep reports. “From file and disk shredders to memory optimisers to generic system cleaners, it was all the same.”

“The one type of snake oil that couldn’t be effectively criticised was the antivirus software package. Windows has had, has today, and tomorrow and forever will always have an endemic weakness for technical attacks (as opposed to social engineering attacks – trojans – which can sneak into Fort Knox if needed). (Microsoft’s criminal ‘heroin economics’ ecosystem),” Rixstep reports. “There are repeated attempts by AV vendors to port and then sell their wares on Apple’s OS X. Once again, it can be a deluded belief on the part of the vendors that such tools are necessary, but ask any system engineer and you’ll hear the truth. Ask Brian Krebs and you’ll hear that he would never buy AV for his Mac. And why not? Because OS X is a UNIX, and UNIX doesn’t need it. But Windows is not UNIX and Windows cannot protect itself – ‘real’ operating systems don’t leave files (and users) unprotected.”

Then this turned up the other day at the always eager NoodleMac site:
NoodleMac cleaner apps

Let’s look at these claims.

• The Mac doesn’t need ‘dozens’ of cleaner apps. True.
• Many of them are simply clones or copies of each other. Somewhat true, yes.
The only ‘cleaning’ apps one needs are Onyx and AppDelete. See the reply from ‘carlton’ above.

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Your Mac is an amazing machine. Don’t gunk it up with snake oil!

How to detect and remove MacKeeper and keylogger malware on your Mac – July 17, 2015
Controversial MacKeeper security program opens critical hole on Mac computers – May 12, 2015
What ‘MacKeeper’ is and why you should avoid it – January 21, 2015
How to uninstall MacKeeper from your Mac – December 19, 2014


    1. Sure.

      And the cache is full again mere seconds after you started surfing again. Because that’s what they’re for.

      The thing is, some cleaners made sense on Windows because there were/are caches, temp files etc. which are not maintained properly, some of which because Windows does not/cannot keep track of certain files. It doesn’t know that some files are not needed, so it plays safe and keeps them, so 3rd party apps will the gap. A properly programmed OS (oh, I dunno, like UNIX 😉 ) does keep track, and manages caches far better.

    2. Haha, good one macman84. I just love the earnestness of many people here who can’t seem to get a joke unless /s is inserted after the post. But doing that just defeats the purpose of the joke.

  1. I used to “have” to run repair permissions before installing OS X, GM or a dot update, but I understand this is not needed anymore as its included as part of the installation script. I wonder, what took them so long? Mostly the snake oil cleanup tools are good for giving you a top down look at all of your data, what apps you use and how long ago. I mean, a 512GB SSD only goes so far, and then you have to chose, hord or purge.

  2. It is tough to learn enough as an average user to maintain things correctly in any OS. Cache cleaners are simple. Malware removal is not, as it is constantly changing daily, even for OSX.

    “Hacking Team” malware recently is a bitch.

    Anti-Virus software can help and will probably become invaluable to protect systems because of new threats from the likes of Hacking Team events.

    Click to access avc_mac_2015_en.pdf

  3. Another genre of useless utilities is comprised of apps that let you add, remove, merge, annotate, and rearrange pages in PDF files. Preview does all of those things quite easily.

    1. When I first switched (from Win XP at the time) to the Mac for my main computing, I did search for Apps for all kinds of things. Because that’s what you had to do on Windows. Back on Windows, there were usually tons of nearly identical apps for each problem.

      On the Mac, I invariably hit two options:

      1) The built-in apps would do what I was looking for, but I didn’t know.

      2) There was ONE 3rd party app recommended (instead of dozens).

      It’s a much nicer ecosystem here on the Mac.

    2. Yep. I luckily learned this just before I was about to get one.

      However, speaking as a “re-switcher” who was away for a few years (stuck in a Win environment), these and many other Mac capabilities are not just put out there in front of you. Tiger felt much more transparent than “discovering” I now had to press the option key to get “save as” as an option (which I thought had just been removed for my first months in Yosemite).

      I suppose some of it is how many capabilities newer computers have, but some of it isn’t IMO. Some more handholding leading me to discover the capabilities of my new computing environment would have been very welcome compared to the still at best clumsy process of trying to ferret many things out in the community support forums at

      Similarly, btw, I found the “print to PDF” capability of my old Canon driver my best way to “edit PDF files” in any program, as long as I keep the original other format of the file for future editing in the creating program.

    3. Preview is an awesome app. Too bad Apple totally fubared theannotations part with Yosemite. I used to be able to annotate screen shots with arrows and text by drawing the arrow, and clicking and entering the text. Now I have to click to add the arrow, then drag the ends and resize it to where I want. Same for every other shape. Definitely a step backwards.

      What is this? 1994?

  4. I *will* say that Application house keeping used to easier pre-OS X. Apps in previous Mac OS, thru System 9, kept all the bits and pieces of the app stored within the app package (except the Pref file). When you wanted an app gone, you just dragged to the trash and all the resources for that app erased from the disk. These days if the app doesn’t doesn’t come with an uninstaller you need to search through a half-dozen Library folders to track down all the bits and pieces that have been left behind once you delete the app. An app to clear these orphaned files is useful.

  5. Hmm. I’m not exactly going to agree with Brian Krebs here. He’s in the class of user who can ID a phishing scam and avoid Trojan horses (which by far make up the vast majority of OS X malware over time) from a mile away. He also, no doubt, knows that Apple incorporates both Gatekeeper and XProtect into OS X specifically to avoid Trojan horses and scams, such as malicious adware. Apple also has built-in protection against the two worst plagues of the Internet: Adobe Flash and Oracle Java. Avoid both!

    – – But Apple is never perfect. I can point to their refusal to wipe out the possibility of the Masque Attack on iOS as an example. They’ve also been incredibly slow to address a handful of security holes in various OS X technologies over the past year. Apple has one pending security hole right now called ‘DLYD_PRINT_TO_FILE Exploit’ that requires patching in OS X Yosemite. (Not a problem in any other version of OS X at this time). Why Apple is stalling on this patch, I have NO idea.

    I’m also a firm believer, by way of experience, in the ‘LUSER’. This nasty term refers to computer users who literally attract security problems. They’re the reason computer scams are increasingly rampant and successful. Witness the survival of horrible MacKeeper software. Note the couple of times Trojan horse malware for Macs has resulted in massive botnets over of 100,000 victim zombie Macs. One botnet was estimated to have reached 600,000 Macs. No joke.

    IOW: Sh*t Happens, particularly to very nice people who have not been blessed with tech savvy.

    My recommendations:
    ClamXav (now shareware): Great for finding most Windows malware dumped on your machine via email etc. It also finds most Mac malware, but is consistently lagging in current malware identification due to odd problems with the folks at the ClamAV project, IMHO.
    Intego VirusBarrier, which is part of their fairly inexpensive Mac Internet Security suite, currently at version X8. It’s the best commercial Mac anti-malware program. I’ve recommended it since 2007 and have found no reason to change my mind. The drawback is that you have to pay for yearly subscriptions to their malware definitions after the first year. Thankfully, there are frequent sales on VirusBarrier making the cost of subscriptions, included with each new VirusBarrier purchase, plummet considerably. At least that’s what I do!

    Free anti-malware:
    – Try the new Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. My colleague Thomas Reed recently took over the project and has incorporated his excellent AdwareMedic application. Yes, it really is free.
    Sophos Antivirus for Mac. Sophos do a reasonable job and many people like this application. I’ve never found a reason to recommend any other free anti-malware apart from Malwarebytes. Some people do prefer one or another instead. But start here!

    I do NOT run an anti-malware application in real time. I don’t see the point on Macs. But if you are a computer administrator and have a LUSER on your hands, you MAY want to do exactly that. The direct download version of ClamXav includes real time scanning of downloads folders, if you choose. (The Mac App Store version does NOT, thank Apple for that problem). Meanwhile, Intego’s real-time scanning is top notch. You do have to run it once in relative slow mode while it builds a database of all the files it has scanned. But it skips over checked files on further scans, making it super fast and efficient. It’s very unobtrusive.

    I run both ClamXav and Intego VirusBarrier once a week on my Macs in order to look for random crap that may have snuck onto them. I also run AdwareMedic with each new version. Which means I’ll be running Malwarebytes Anti-Malware in the future.

    Remember that the #1 Rule Of Security is: MAKE A BACKUP! If you don’t back up, you’re gonna get stung. It’s that simple and you’ll deserve it. Read up on ideal backup strategies.

    Class dismissed! 📣 😀

    1. Extra Credit:
      A good little free utility to check for certain nasty semi-malware on Macs: DetectX – Free, ever improving. It helps identify and trash:

      – MacKeeper
      – CleanMyMac (not a favorite)
      – Genieo (awful adware)
      – iAntiVirus (an out-of-date atrocity)
      – Keyloggers (aka legal spyware)
      – MacCleanse (another non-favorite)
      – Wirelurker (Chinese malware)
      – ZipCloud (awful adware)
      – A few other miscellanies such as crappy DivX

  6. Maybe not an AV but you do need uninstaller and disk optimizing in any Modern OS. If your going to uninstall apro gram you just can not take it drag and drop into trash, you need to get rid of anything else that was installed with the program. Not only the empty space you leave will not be populated by another program on move up the line to fill that said space too. Unix does not really need it but for performance sake you do. It is that Windoze is poorly written and depend on any utilities more.

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