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 Preventive Maintenance

Unneeded Utility Software
January 2003

Russell James is Operations Manager at BJ Associates of San Antonio. They are an authorized service center for Toshiba and Sony systems. They are the laptop specialist and also handle system builds and parts for desktops. They can take care of any IBM compatible hardware or software problem that you have.

There are many utility programs that are available on the Internet as Freeware or Shareware. Freeware means that the author of the program has made the program available free of charge, usually for non-commercial use. Shareware programs are usually made so that they will work for a specified period of time to allow you to try them out to verify whether they would be a valuable addition to your system. The author then expects you to register or pay for the program if you would like to continue using it.

Most of these programs do what you think they are supposed to do but there are a lot of programs that also are used to spy on you and your Internet habits. These are the programs that some people call spyware. One such suite of programs is Gator/Offer Companion/Trickler/GAIN. This is a program that is installed with an Active X installer when you arrive at one of the Gator related Websites. You have to allow the software to be installed by clicking on the OK button when the Active X component loads. 

The Gator eWallet is a part of this bundle of downloaded software. It is advertised by the company as a program to fill in forms with no typing, remember passwords automatically, protect and encrypt your data on your computer. These programs are also used by The Gator Corporation to log the Web pages that your computer views as well as how much time is spent at those sites. Here is a part of the privacy statement and end user license agreement for Gator eWallet version 3.2.

And on top of these facts, I have found that simply uninstalling the programs with Add/Remove programs will not remove the entire residue of the program from your system. This is why I like to use a spyware utility program to scan systems to detect these and many other programs like them and allow me to remove the entire program from the systems that I am working on. Many of these programs would not be that big of a deal if they did not cause such havoc with your computer browser. Problems associated with these programs interfering with the normal operation of your computer system can add many hours of heartache to your life.

One of the programs that I use to remove spyware is called Ad-aware. It is writen by a company called Lavasoft. According to the company, 

Ad-aware is a free multi spyware removal utility that scans your memory, registry and hard drives for known spyware and scumware components and lets you remove them safely.
From the experience that I have had with the program, all I can say is that it certainly finds a lot of items on a lot of peopleís computers. Most of the systems that are experiencing error messages and lockups while browsing the Internet can have their problems corrected by cleaning their systems with this program.

Another program that I have run across is called Spybot Search & Destroy. It is written by PepiMK software. I have just recently discovered this program but I am very impressed with what I have seen so far. One feature of the program is the product info section. Here you will be able to look up the spyware programs and read a description of the program as well as the pertinent information from the companyís privacy statement. It is going to be a real eye opener for many of the programs that are being installed on a lot of computers.

There are a lot of free programs available on the Web, some of them good and some of them bad. Gator is just an example of the many spyware programs that are out there to keep track of you. The software company is not doing anything illegal. If you donít have a problem with this type of activity and you feel you will benefit from using their program, then you should use it. When the programs that are installed start to cause the errors that I have seen on many systems, go download one of these removal utilities and use it. You will definitely see an improvement in your system afterwards.

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