[Review] The Cleaner 2010

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

The Cleaner 2010 by MooSoft Development

Version reviewed:

v6.1.2030

Supported OS:

Windows2K/XP/Vista/Windows7/Server 32bit and 64bit

Price:

$19.95 (USD) for one year subscription but you can get it for free for a limited time at Giveawayoftheday.com!

Software description as per the developer:

MooSoft’s The Cleaner is a high performance application that protects, prevents and recovers your computer from malicious software (malware) attacks, including: trojans, spyware, adware and other harmful programs.

The Cleaner detects and removes malware that is often missed by anti-virus software. It delivers one of the quickest and most thorough scans on the market. It will scan your computer in under eight minutes making it an excellent addition to your computer’s defenses. The Cleaner has been in development for twelve years and is used in over 130 countries.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Protects users against spyware, adware, trojans, rootkits, etc. – everything that isn’t a virus.
  • Allows users to define a “whitelist” to prevent false readings on software that user knows for sure are clean.
  • Has real-time protection.
  • Works fairly well side-by-side with other security software.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Doesn’t provide much “value for the money” when compared to rival software.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”10″}Very easy to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”6″}Scans are done quicker than many other anti-spyware/anti-virus/anti-malware I have used and computer resource usage during scans is actually fairly low. However, the TCActive continually uses ~10% CPU while sitting idle in the background. Furthermore, detection rates can be improved.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”9″}Most people wouldn’t mind some “extra” protection.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”5″}Being only anti-spyware, $19.95 per year is hardly worth it considering other rival software – that offer more protection – are cheaper.
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”6″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect dotTech’s overall rating/verdict of the program in which all the features and alternatives have been considered.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tdown]
{/rw_verdict} –>

The Cleaner is a veteran in the field of computer protection. Supposedly, it was created back in 1998 claiming the title as “the first malware remove program on the market” and to “counter the Back Orifice trojan”. So,  with such strong history, you may ask, why have you never heard of The Cleaner before (assuming you never heard of it… I didn’t before today)? Well probably because it is one of the only “sidekick” security software that charges a yearly subscription and yet does not even protect you against all malware. According to the developer, The Cleaner protects users against “spyware, adware, trojans, rootkits, etc… everything that isn’t a virus”.

The Cleaner actually consists of two parts: TCActive! and The Cleaner. TCActive! is The Cleaner’s real-time protection software. The Cleaner is, well, the main program itself. This is what the main program window of The Cleaner looks like:

Using The Cleaner is fairly self explanatory and stereotypical of anti-malware software. From the “Update” tab…

…you can manually update the signature database. From the “Scan” tab…

…you can manually run an on-demand scan. Three types of scans are available: “smart”, “full”, and scans on individual files you select. Unless you are on Vista/Win7 and have UAC enabled, you can drag + drop files onto that green plus to scan them. If you are on Vista/Win7 with UAC enabled, the drag + drop does not work (it is a known issue – the developer is aware of it) so you must use the right-click context menu entry to scan individual files. I do wish the developer adds some way to simply browse for files to scan in case someone does not want to drag + drop (or can’t drag + drop) or use the context menu entry.

The “Options” tab…

…gives you the option to change a few settings. For those that don’t know “heuristics” are another method – other than signature detection – to detect malware. If you disable heuristics, you can still use The Cleaner (it will only use the signature database then) but you will be less protected..

The “Report” tab is where you are shown the results of your scans are displayed:

With any detections found, you are given the option to remove them. You can also add files from the “Report” to the whitelist (right click on them and select “Add to Whitelist”). Take note that any files you select to “repair” are quarantined and not deleted.

The “Whitelist” tab shows the files you have added to your whitelist:

Any files that you have added to the whitelist will be, essentially, marked as “safe” by The Cleaner.

The “Quarantine” tab shows all the files you have “repaired”:

Once a file is placed in quarantine, you then have the option to delete it (or un-quarantine it).

The “Log” tab displays the skeleton log The Cleaner keeps:

Lastly, the “About” tab simply gives some information about The Cleaner, and allows the user to report false positives and submit malware samples:

In terms of TCActive!, there isn’t much for you to do with it except turn it on and let it do its thing. It does have a program window to it…

…but aside from adding all running processes to the whitelist and viewing the log, there isn’t much to do.

Two special things to note about The Cleaner:

  • Although it does not protect against all malware (as mentioned earlier, it protects against everything but viruses), the signature database it has is fairly large: 130,000+ entries. Of course a large database does not mean an effective detection rate, but it does mean the developer spends a good amount of time adding to the database.
  • TCActive! does not work like most other live protection. Most live protection you will encounter monitor pretty much everything on your computer, so if you so much as download a bad file the live protection should detect it and let you know. TCActive!, on the other hand, does not work like this. With TCActive! running you can download as many malicious files as you want and TCActive! won’t say a word until and unless you run the files and they try to make changes to your computer. If The Cleaner was a “main” security software as opposed to a “sidekick” this would be a huge con. However, since The Cleaner is a “sidekick” this behavior actually benefits it because it helps minimize the clash between the live protection of The Cleaner and other running security software, and therefore makes The Cleaner more compatible with any other anti-malware you may be running.

In terms of performance, The Cleaner is good and bad (for the lack of a better term). On-demand scans are actually done at a fairly good pace – faster than many other anti-malwares I have used (it took me ~45 mins to do a full scan my computer which is not bad considering I have 100+ GB filled). Computer resource usage was actually fairly low during the on-demand scan too: ~10-20% CPU and ~10-20 MB of RAM. Computer resource usage of TCActive!, though, is disappointing. As I already explained, TCActive! is The Cleaner’s live protection so – unless you opt to turn it off – will be on all the time. While it is on, TCActive! is constantly using ~10% CPU. This is really not desirable and should be improved. (It also uses ~2 MB of RAM but that isn’t that bad so I can’t complain about that.) Detection rates of The Cleaner are also an area that can be improved.

To test out how well The Cleaner works in detecting malware, I downloaded and used a ~6500 malware test sample. Now let me be clear that this sample also contained viruses – viruses that The Cleaner is not able to detect and the developer is clear about this – so one must give The Cleaner some elbow room for not being able to detect all the malware. However, even taking into account that some of the non-detected malware are viruses, The Cleaner still performed fairly poorly: it detected ~400 malware out of ~6500.

In addition to testing The Cleaner, I tested out a few other security software to see how they did as compared to The Cleaner. SUPERAntiSpyware was a disappointment also, detecting ~400. While Malwarebytes detected a lot more than The Cleaner (~1500), Malwarebytes was also a disappointment considering Malwarebytes is a full anti-malware, protecting against everything The Cleaner does and against viruses. SpywareTerminator, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise; it detected ~1500. Sure ~1500 is not a lot considering there were ~6500, but ~1500 is more than what The Cleaner and SUPERAntiSpyware detected, and equal to what Malwarebytes detected. Put that into context that SpywareTerminator is not an anti-virus (you have the option to using ClamAV with it but I declined) – it is anti-spyware just like TheCleaner and SUPERAntiSpyware and you understand why I was surprised at these results from SpywareTerminator.

What didn’t surprise me is the fact that Avira, avast!, and a-squared outperformed all the others by detecting most all of the malware test sample. (Keep in mind Avira, avast!, and a-squared are anti-virus and anti-spyware, and they are “main” security software as opposed to the other others which are “sidekicks”.)

Now I would like to emphasis the point that my detection tests were only done with on-demand scanning, and they were not done methodically enough to be published in Computer Science Today. What I am trying to say is I used my tests to give me a general ballpark idea as to which software performs how well; these tests were not conducted in an extremely controlled environment with a huge sample size and are not to be taken as seriously as you would take AV-Comparatives.org results. As I said, the tests are just intended to give a general idea of which security software stands where (which is also why I was not as specific as I could have been on the detection rates/numbers). In that regard, I must say The Cleaner has been marked off my list of potential security software to use on my computer, and I suggest you do the same. I say this because The Cleaner just doesn’t fair very well when compared to the competition.

First of all, The Cleaner has a $19.95 yearly subscription (if you want “updates” as per the developer’s website). Most other “sidekick” software (SUPERAntiSpyware, Malwarebytes, SpywareTerminator, and others) can be had for a one-time payment ranging from $20-$30, while others are even free. These other “sidekick” software performed better than The Cleaner, and cost less. So why would one shell out $20 a year for something inferior when they can get someone superior for cheaper?

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

For free alternatives, please read my article on free security software.

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}The Cleaner may be a veteran, but I am not impressed; thumbs down. If you are looking for effective protection for your computer, consider paying for Nod32, Kaspersky, Norton, Avira Premium, avast! Pro, or a number of other good security software (see AV-Comparatives.org for excellent security software tests). If you want effective protection for your computer, but don’t want to pay a dime, please read my article on free security software.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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17 comments

  1. computersexplore

    Just a note to say it’s nice to be able to refer back to this, which is relevant again due to today’s GAOTD. FWIW, I find myself relying more & more on my PAID ZoneAlarmEXTREME Security and less on any of the sidekicks, etc., altho I do keep one or two handy as a cross-check in case I’m really suspicious of some download or whatever and ZAX didn’t find anything—usually it’s like one of those false positives, only it was me hitting the panic button and not some overachieving anti-something trying to prove its worth. In case I haven’t said it in a while, thanks for being there and doing what you do; keep up the good work.

  2. tomcat

    I haven’t used The Cleaner very much, as it hadn’t found anything ever. When I tried today to use it after some time, it told me “15 uses remaining” or I had to register.

    Now, when I downloaded it from GAoD, I don’t remember such restriction in the number of uses, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. It turned out like a prolonged trial period. If this restriction was known from the start, my apologies.

    But if indeed this is a new restriction not mentioned at the time of offer, I hope Ashraf reads this comment and takes the matter up with GAoD.

  3. s

    Whether your testing holds any significant value or not in comparison to big reviews undertaken by reputed companies, I think it pretty much sums up the situation . Its very close to what the real picture should be.
    As per my experience for the last year or so Cleaner, Super antispyware (always thought it was overated) or Malwarebytes havent detected anything. Neither did real time threatfire. I installed ad aware out of curiosity a few days back, nothing found.
    To my surprise Spybot search detected one infection in the registry a couple of weeks back. Spyware terminator blocked what it said was a trojan while installing a software(from GOTD- for downloading you tube and similar videos), dont know if it was real or false positive.
    I do not attach any importance to detection of spy cookies. I dont even think these are infections.
    Its not that I take lot of care while surfing. I even go to crack and other such sites and sometimes also ignore warnings from WOT. But I am extra careful about what I install or execute on my system.
    I dual boot win7 and Xp on my laptop, Win7 & vista on my pc.
    I use Avira Premium (promotional licence) as resident protection and one what u call “sidekick” which I keep on changing as none satisfies me and I like experimenting. I have used spyware doctor (antispyware only, google version), threatfire, spyware terminator & other promotional antispywares as sidekicks (one at a time) with no extra benifit as far as real time protection was concerned because everytime avira premium intercepts and blocks the threat that is there. So now I have stopped using real time sidekick and only use these during on demand scans. Avira even blocked access to google search results 4-5 times in the last few months as the results contained direct links to malacious sites. Example – I was searching for something like antispyware reviews only yesterday and I couldnt open the third page of google results as Avira found trojans, i could open other pages of google results. I wasnt surprised as similar thing had happened in the past as well.
    For free on demand scanning I depend a lot on A-squared and the main protection Avira.
    I cant do without Spyware Blaster & Spybot immunization feature. I must also tweak using Xp antispy but I allow Active X and Java. I surf using Firefox. I like WOT a lot and that is the first thing i install after I install firefox. I have also realised the importance of the patches and updates for the operating system and other softwares and addons. I have failed to understand how people manage to infect their system so much when they say that one antimalware found 6 infections (not spy cookies) during the on demand the scans, the other found three more and still the third one found one more which the previous two missed. That is a real mystery to me.
    Thankyou for making the results known, genuine private testing helps very much.

  4. red

    @basil: FWIW,most would probably say spybot isn’t the best available, truecrypt is probably a better alternative to diskcryptor, & it is self-explanatory. Can’t tell how many cores you have from your description but there’s a whole lot of freeware that can tell you. Try http://www.freewarefiles.com. And no, 512k Ram is not enough to run windows 7. Upgrade (its cheap and easy) or stick with XP.

    You didn’t ask me, so I’m just sayin’.

  5. red

    So, you find a scan on ‘execute only’ a “huge con” (presumably meaning negative, not criminal)?

    Uh, Dude, if it doesn’t get executed, then it doesn’t really matter if it is or isn’t infected, now does it?

    OTOH, ever download a huge file, only to get to the end and have your AV falsely claim that the dl is infected and NOT complete the download? I have, and it isn’t pleasant. Nor is it pleasant to get bogged down scanning every file in a directory, *repeatedly* every time you open a folder.

    No. Give me execution only any day. It is a *good* thing.

  6. basil

    Hi Ashraf first many thanks for your good work and service to us all.

    1.Can you kindly let us know your appraisal of Spybot as I do not see you mention it aniwhere?
    I used it regularly on Win2000 n 98 but only recent installed it as backup to Avira free, never could master use Avastfree.But thankfully it did not install realtime tea whatever as i did not want it to fear of using up RAM only 512M.

    2.Can you please sometime if at all possible provide a simple how to use for
    DiskCryptor since easy instructions are nowhere to be found.?Thanks again very much.

    3.I am using Pentium(R)4 CPU 3.40GHz 3.40GHz
    Is that a dualcore and what does the(R) stand for if you can please help.

    Also I am using an XP Pro Vsn 2002
    RAM 504 MB , do you think I may upgrade to a Windows7 without any hassles to be expected?

    I await your kind response and thank you again for everything.

    Salaams
    Basil.

  7. ebell

    @Ashraf: TheCleaner has been around for a number of years. I remember using the software as far back 2000. Before Malwarebytes and the integration of anti-spyware into your antivirus software, your TOP choices were: Spybot (Free), Ad-Aware (free and paid), SpySweeper (paid) and TheCleaner.

    TheCleaner and SpySweeper were my weapons of choice for cleaning infected computers before Malwarebytes came along.

  8. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @kingpin: It is true Malwarebytes free does not have live protection. For this review, I meant that Malwarebytes Pro is a much better deal (one time $25 payment) then The Cleaner ($20 per year).

    On whether you should get it or pass: it depends on how well you have your computer protected. If you are already running a “main” security soft and a “sidekick”, no need for The Cleaner. If you need a “sidekick”, fine go ahead and get The Cleaner if you have no alternative choice.

    @Anemailname: You are welcome =). When (if) you install SpywareTerminator, be weary of their “Crawler” service (uncheck it during install). Ironic that an anti-spyware comes bundled with what can be considered commercial spyware.

    @Garth: As Giovanni said, I tested on-demand scanning. The on-demand scanning for a-squared Free and Pro is the same.

    @computersexplore: You are well protected lol. No need for The Cleaner.

    @Ron: You are welcome =).

    @Giovanni (King of Freebies…LOL!): You may be right that I am being a bit harsh on The Cleaner, but I tend to be more harsh on security software as opposed to other software for obvious reasons.

    Also, yes I know about the new avast (can you post reminding me? lol). I plan on doing a Avira vs avast vs AVG post in the near future.

    @Giovanni (King of Freebies…LOL!): Never used Panda Cloud so I couldn’t say.

  9. Giovanni (King of Freebies...LOL!)

    Hey Ashraf!

    Talking about AV…what’s your opinion about the cloud-based new generation antivirus software such as PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS?

    http://www.brighthub.com/computing/smb-security/articles/59809.aspx

    Well, believe it or not, but PANDA CLOUD ANTIVIRUS uses less than 300KB of memory when it is idle and, according to PC WORLD and PC MAGAZINE, it’s currently the best free AV out there as far as the malware detection rate is concerned (an impressive 99.4%)

    http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/product/290839/review/cloud_antivirus.html

    Keep an eye on it!!

    Waiting for your feedback!!

  10. Giovanni (King of Freebies...LOL!)

    Hey Ashraf!!

    I think you have been too harsh in assessing this nice SW.

    Honestly doesn’t deserve a thumbs down as its features are above average.

    KEY FEATURES (taken from SOFTPEDIA)

    · Registry Monitoring
    · Active Scanning
    · Stealth Mode
    · Quarantine Manager
    · Scheduler
    · In-Program File Submission
    · Command Line File Testing
    · Email Alerts
    · Admin Message Alerts
    · TCMonitor Ignore List
    · TCMonitor Editor
    · Active Scanner Ignore List
    · Encrypted Configuration Data
    · Expanded Scan Information
    · Scan Pause/Resume
    · Enhanced Fonts In TCActive!

    Having said that, I believe that this combination of bomb-proof FREEWARE SECURITY TOOLS is right now absolutely the BEST ONE available on the market to protect your system against any kind of known and unknown malware (and doesn’t cost you a dime…LOL!):

    COMODO FIREWALL (or ONLINE ARMOR) + AVAST! FREE ANTIVIRUS 5 + A-SQUARED 4.5 + SUPERANTISPYWARE PORTABLE VERSION (or MALWAREBYTE’s ANTIMALWARE which is in my view a little bit inferior than SAS for detecting malware) + THREATFIRE (optional) + SPYWARE BLASTER + KEY SCRAMBLER (Antikeylogger) + ROOT REPEAL or GMER (Antirootkit)

    In particular the last FREE version of AVAST is simply AMAZING as it provides a set of great features (Behavior Shield, Behavioral Honeypots, File System Shield, Mail Shield, Web Shield, P2P Shield, IM Shield, Network Shield, Silent/Gaming Mode etc…) that even the award-winning AVIRA PREMIUM 9 doesn’t have!!

    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Antivirus/Avast-Home-Edition.shtml

    And it’s not an accident that Google has chosen this product for inclusion in GOOGLE PACK after taking note of the last AV COMPARATIVES REPORT that has ranked AVAST 5! as the BEST FREE AV in the market, thanks to its great features and low FALSE POSITIVE DETECTION RATE compared to other award-winning FREE AV such as AVIRA.

    Take care!!

    Giovanni

    P.S. # GARTH: A-squared 4.5 FREE uses the same signatures and AV engines used by A-squared 4.5 Antimalware.

    The only difference between the two is that the FREE VERSION doesn’t provide the REAL TIME PROTECTION GUARD unlike the paid one…that’s it!

    So if you intend to use this great tool only as on-demand scanner, as I do, you can use either the free or the paid A-SQUARED version without distinction.

  11. computersexplore

    I’m using ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite (Paid) plus versions I got for free (whether or not they are freeware) of Avira, MalwareBytes, a-squared, SuperAntispyware, Lavasoft, Threatfire and Spyware Doctor. I would also have IObit’s 360 and WinPatrol except they did not behave well with all the others. I run regular on-demand scans of all of them but only a couple of the free ones do any real-time scans. Is there any reason to think that The Cleaner would add anything to my arsenal? I tend to think that I am well-protected, but I am stand ready to be proved wrong if that be the case.

  12. Anemailname

    Thank you. Your reviews are so exact. I love the fact that you tell it like it is!
    I’m sticking with my Malwarebytes and Avast and I think I will check out SpywareTerminator just to have a backup! My system is running perfectly (Knock on wood) thanks to your advice!
    Win 7 X64 AMD Phenom Quad core 6g ram 550gig HD

  13. kingpin

    Ashraf,
    The Cleaner 2010 has real-time protection unlike free AntiMalwarebytes and as you have suggested in the good column it works fairly side by side with other security S/W’s,So should I use this as extra or should I pass on this completely?I need your advice, Plz.
    Waiting for your reply…