[Review] Spotmau Privacy Kit

Today’s giveaway is of Spotmau Privacy Kit. The developer – Spotmau Corporation – seems to do business in an unorthodox way. Where as most developers offer trial versions of their software, so users can try before they buy, Spotmau does no such thing. You need to purchase their software after which you receive a download link. Since I always use trial versions of software to prepare reviews beforehand, this poses a problem for me. I contacted their support about it earlier today, but have yet to receive a response. So, no review today… sorry. However, if I may, I still have my two cents to say.

Spotmau.com has a poor reputation on WOT (SiteAdvisor gives Spoutmau.com the green light, but SiteAdvisor did not test any downloads on the website). While there are positive comments and ratings for the developer, overall the ratings are very low and there are quite a few negative comments also. A couple of the negative comments are for spam and bad customer experience. While having such ratings is not ideal, these particular negative ratings are not really what bother me. Rather, the comments about phishing scams, rogue software, and viruses are worrisome. For example, here are two comments, the first one by Arcade™ and the other by hpHosts:

Phishing Scam Website! –
This site provides applications or services “Rogue” –
Risk of identity theft or other fraud -

Used for the distribution of “rogue” security or other such applications.

As I said there are positive comments for Spotmau, and according to Spotmau.com some of Spotmau’s software has been reviewed by respectable sources (although the developer does a lot of “award swapping”, i.e. placing awards and reviews that belong to other software on Privacy Kit’s page). However, Spotmau Privacy Kit – today’s giveaway – does not offer very unique features; the features offered by Privacy Kit can be found in other software. In other words, there is not very much reward for the high level of risk users put themselves in by using software from a company that has a huge question mark above it. I am not saying Spotmau Privacy Kit is malicious software (I did not download it nor did I review it so I can’t make such a judgment call on it); I am sure the GOTD team has properly vetted the software before running it as today’s giveaway. What I am saying is the risk – the possibility of the software being malicious – far outweighs the reward in my opinion.

Everyone is welcome to download and use Spotmau Privacy Kit. As I said I am sure the GOTD team has made sure Privacy Kit is malware-free. But, my suggestion would be to look at other (free) software that we know for sure are trustworthy and offer same/similar features as Privacy Kit:

If you have any more information on Spotmau Privacy Kit, Spotmau Corporation, or know of more alternatives to Spotmau Privacy Kit, please share in the comments below.

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16 comments

  1. Dee

    The company may be putting a front end on other software they don’t have rights to distribute. That may be one reason they don’t offer a trial as they could be discovered by other tech companies or GPL code they may be using.

    ?

  2. Patrick

    @Mike:

    Dear Mike,
     
    I quote:
    “Do you really want to trust your computer to an unknown company and its product, just because the product is free? (…)Hence, the great value of reviews by impartial sources, such as Ashraf.  And the great pain when he is away or hasn’t been able to review a product!”
     
    In my comment I stated: “for those who think that anything offered for free should not be commented on and that everyone taking advantage of it should gladly accept his or her system to be seriously compromised, I sincerely wish that you reconsider your oppinion.” [“you” meaning “those who think that etc. – I probably should have written “TO those who…”]
     
    Surely this is quite the opposite of trusting software just because of it being free?
    This part of my remark was directed specifically to thos people who DO say (both on GAOTD and here) that one should not “nag” but instead should “shut up and be content to get something for free”…Even when a lot of users report (e.g.) registration problems or problems with 64 bit implementation or portability, these commentators will stick to their “opinion” and actually will trust “an unknown company and its product, just because the product is free”.
     
    Some even go so far as to consider suggestions for improving the software on offer as negative critique in stead of constructive remarks. They remain totally blind to the possibility that some comments may be welcomed by developers. As far as I understand it, most companies appreciate feedback and some even (partly) incorporate suggestions in newer versions.
     
    Perhaps my wording was somewhat confusing. Especially the part that says “A lot of us have payed loads of money  for loads of s*t…”
     
    By this I had some “reputable” magazines and reviewers in mind that incite people to buy programs by praising those products skyhigh and impressing potential buyers with incomprehensible technotalk, even when those softwares aren’t worth the paper the reviews are printed on. Some reviewers are just payed PR guys who would lose income or their (freelance) job writing a “bad” review.
    We all know that this is common practice in some circles, but luckily not in all. Besides, after a few bad experiences one tends to be more critical about such reviews. Some of us may even turn downright cynical :)
    In no way I had GAOTD or Ashraf in mind.
     
    Somewhat along the same lines, it is also a fact that “Some of us [downloaded expensive but bad programs] without commenting at all [on deficiencies], [while] some of us [are] giving constructive remarks.”
    Again I should have made it clear that this remark does NOT EXCLUSIVELY concern software offered through GAOTD or comments posted there (or here)! Sorry if I caused some confusion.
    IMHO, GAOTD, Ashraf and commentators (some are very well informed indeed while others ask quite interesting questions) are doing a good job at preventing some others to make decisions they might regret later.
     
    However, looking at submission times of comments, it is clear that some people (on GAOTD, far less on dotTech it seems –but I haven’t made any statistics about that :-) get really ecstatic about a program that they simply cannot have downloaded, installed, registered ànd ‘tested’ (even partly) in such a short period. We’re talking about comments posted just minutes after the product has become available, far less time than one hour -which I myself think is also insufficient time for a more or less thorough “walkthrough”. I need at least some two to three hours to test main features. Then again, I’m not a professional or even slightly gifted tester/reviewer ;-)  Somehow I find these comments rather funny. 
     
    That “I have no software related remarks to give” only refers to the Privacy Kit that was on offer. I, like many it seems, have refrained from installing it probably because of te abscence of a well documented review.
     
    Finally, I appreciate Ashraf’s comments so much that, during his absence, I only downloaded upgrades of programs I already have or that he had reviewed earlier versions of.
     
    The rest of my comment was meant to be in support of Ashraf and written out of frustration for there not being a (his) reliable review. Because Spotmau did not sent him a reply to his request within a reasonable timeframe (see Ashraf’s reply) there was no way he could have written a review up to his standards. His remarks were quite informative though.
     
    And I do agree with you that “Computers already have enough issues, and even established software can have issues”. (Microsoft, for one, is “famous” for their SP’s and the hundreds or even thousends of glitches that never get fixed at all.)
    I guess none of us are happy with extra issues because of crippled software ;-)
     
    Greetz.
    Patrick.
     

  3. Lascannon

    A few of GAOTD’s giveaways such as the youtube-downloader giveaway, came packed with a browser hijack. Why didn’t GAOTD realize this? And why don’t they block giveaways that has been rated “bad” by many people?

  4. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Patrick: I had sent an e-mail to their help and support e-mail. I got a reply at 3 in the morning… after which I had already gone asleep. This makes me sad because they claim to be a USA company and claim to have offices in USA and Hong Kong, yet still e-mail me back in the middle of the night.

    @Jyo: Doh! I knew something was off about the post when I proofread it… thanks!

  5. Mike

    Patrick, as much as I like GOTD, the continual issue I have with it is the lack of any editorial review of products by the GOTD staff.  Do you really want to trust your computer to an unknown company and its product, just because the product is free?  Computers already have enough issues, and even established software can have issues (well-established Paragon partition software borked my computer earlier this year) …
     
    Hence, the great value of reviews by impartial sources, such as Ashraf.  And the great pain when he is away or hasn’t been able to review a product!

  6. Patrick

    The following is my comment posted on GAOTD less than one hour ago.
    I don’t feel very happy about what’s going on…
     
     
    Hi,
     
    1. Just following the Spotmau-link above I read the usual scare-stuff other developers use to lure less experienced users into ‘their parlor’. Usually that says enough…
     
    2. Ashraf has a point (apart from obvious inherent security issues):
     
    a. No trace of a free trial version. They do offer a “30 Day Guarantee. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, contact us and we will refund 100% of your purchase”.
    This approach is not that unusual… That is: for hardware purchases with an up front payment… (prepayment)
    A (few days upto) one month free trial period with limited functionality for software is “usual business practice” –but has no legal basis (as far as I know).
    I seems to me that getting a 100% refund on software that does not correspond to your expectances (such as promissed or advertised ‘ease of use’, ‘failsafe’, ‘full documantation’, ‘7/7, 1~2 hour online support,’…the whole bunch) is nearly impossible to obtain.
    In my world that means: “No trial, no deal.”
     
    b. Given that GAOTD’s team is a reliable and conscientious lot, and represent a site visited by thousands of users worldwide –and that Ashraf and his collegues do their utmost to guarantee malware-free, reliable, well reviewed offers, I do not appreciate Spotmau not providing or allowing a timely review (be it by Ashraf or someone else).
     
    Why is that?
    Or perhaps it’s just a communications glitch?
     
    BTW, for those who think that anything offered for free should not be commented on and that everyone taking advantage of it should gladly accept his or her system to be seriously compromised, I sincerely wish that you reconsider your oppinion. A lot of us have payed loads of money  for loads of s*t… Some of us without commenting at all, some of us giving constructive remarks. I have no software related remarks to give and I don’t rely on PR and hearsay only.
     
    3. Legalese:
    As GAOTD explicitely restricts usage of the software offered to “Strictly personal usage.”
    AND AS
    “THIS SOFTWARE PRODUCT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. WITHOUT LIMITATION, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWABLE BY LAW, END USER ASSUMES THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE DOWNLOADED SOFTWARE PRODUCT.”
    You just have to take the risk and protect yourself against anything that may go wrong….
     
    4. To Ashraf…
    “We offer free and professional support to our customers who have already purchased our products.
    Please submit your question at our help desk below or email us at help@spotmau.com. (Note: Questions submitted at help desk will be given higher priority than email.)”
    Is all this a misunderstanding or is someone not liking you?..
     
    5. Coincidence or not?
    “Original Price: $49.95 Summer Sale: $24.95   ( Offer Available Until July 15 )“ Convenient timing?
     
    Conclusion:
    I started writing this some five hours ago and have not seen any reply to Ashraf’s remarks apart from Rob #13.
    Visiting the site itself has not encouraged me to download whatever from them. Their software may be great for all I know, but the PR is indeed “to good to be true”. Also I don’t like their policy of pay first and see what you get later… if anything. Even the Big Ones in security give you a try out period for free!!
     
    Spotmau doesn’t even react on Ashraf’s comments – nor on anything if you ask me. 
     
    @Rob, “I’d thoroughly test it before using it in a situation where you’ll be left in a bad situation. I would be very careful about their secure safe in particular.”
    Test? Test what? First pay, then test, and then what? Be “left in a bad situation” without any support?
     
    No deal here. Can’t test, can’t judge. Can’t judge, won’t pay.
     
    Greetz to all & have a nice day.
    Patrick.

  7. Mike

    Even though a trialware version wasn’t available to test in advance, it would have been nice if someone at GOTD could have done an impartial review once the GOTD offering was available.  Especially where the offering company here really isn’t known.
     
    But I’m always wary about companies I’m not familiar with handling my data.  A track record in this regard is a good thing–even established companies and software can have problems.

    The feature I find most intriguing in the software is the ability to have a HIDDEN encrypted vault (as versus one that is readily apparent)–I’d be interested in knowing what other software might have this feature (I didn’t find it in the other listed “crypt” options–but perhaps I just missed it).

  8. rob

    wondershare safe lock will do much better job and is safe.(32 military level encryption and you can not open locked files in safe mode with out password).   how you ask…..example:my system shut down a while ago and i lost all my keyed programs.when i reinstalled safe lock it was already registered in my name again! as for cleaning CCLEANER!!!!! its free. as for file shredding…. iuse the one that is in DAP(download accelerator plus) it also comes with a trace wiper.
    if your site adviser and your gut tell you not to touch this one……. listen to them!
     

  9. ha14

    Nice review, I purchased their powersuit 2 years ago since they had some fixing abilities for NTLDR problems because my xp refused to boot, well I have to say that it didnt worked but their powersuite have some good functionalities and desktop secretary use. I am sure that this new privacykit got improvements and worth to try it. Thank you giveawayofthday and dottech for the review.