Help me decide whether to get a year's subscription to online support.
March 16, 2013 11:05 AM   Subscribe

My computer is in a real mess. The registry has tons of errors, and I can't open Outlook. I got on the phone with GuruAid through an attempt to contact McAfee support. The tech seemed to be more than competent, and discovered a lot of issues, detailed inside.

These are the issues he found and the support plans they have (stuff in italics are the notes the tech made):

Primary Issue:
Microsoft Office Outlook Errorr of Opration failed.
PC Running Slow.

Secondary Issues:
Remove all Unwanted files.
Remove all Junk files.
Remove all Registry Errors. More than 1800 found! (me talking)
Repair Registry files.
Clean Up.
Tune Up.
Enhance and Optimize the PC Performance.
Configure Firewall to work.

We have the following Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) Plans

3-years Plan for $ 399.99
2-years Plan for $ 299.99
1-year Plan for $ 169.99

The subscription gets you unlimited PC support,
instant help from certified technicians,
unlimited tune ups and security checks for your PC.
Your current problem will be resolved for FREE as a part of the subscription.
Our maintenance plan takes care of all your PC issues.

Major benefits of our annual service plan are:
1. Unlimited PC Support
2. Instant help from Certified technicians
3. Unlimited PC tune-up
4. Unlimited Security Checks
5. PC protection from viruses, malwares, spywares.

So, first question is, is this a reputable company? Is any of these plans worth the money? Is there a better option for support?
posted by Dolley to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
GuruAid is a scam company. Just bring your PC into a local repair shop and have them reformat/reinstall your apps.
posted by Jairus at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2013 [11 favorites]

Jalrus is absolutely correct. Go local, they can help!
posted by HuronBob at 11:12 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a complete, total rip-off. Nothing that these "gurus" are offering is worth anything, and in all likelihood, their fixes and software will create more problems than they fix.

Do not pay them. If you absolutely need help, find a local repair shop.
posted by ellF at 11:26 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you! I appreciate the fast responses. I will find someone local.
posted by Dolley at 11:30 AM on March 16, 2013

Years ago when I was doing first line support we had some techs on the team who always got stellar reviews from customers without having any real technical knowledge. They invariably had the "remove temporary files to improve performance" routine in their bag of tricks. It does nothing. Nothing at all. Customers love it.
posted by dhoe at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2013

Given that you were trying to get to McAfee support, I'm guessing your computer is one of those that had McAfee Antivirus inflicted on it by your system vendor. Well, they don't call McAfee Antivirus one of the Big Three for nothing - quite apart from being completely unjustifiably expensive, it's a slow and bloated resource hog. A freebie from Panda or Microsoft will keep malware off your machine at least as well, and slow it down much, much less.

And yes, a local computer fixer you can deal with face to face will do a much better job at sorting out the Outlook issue than a phone based fake-support crowd (full disclosure: I am a local computer fixer, I am not your local computer fixer).
posted by flabdablet at 11:13 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding flabdablet, if only to emphasize that you should switch away from McAfee for performance reasons alone. I've done dozens of housecalls where the simple act of removing bundled McAfee or Norton security suites resulted in a huge performance increase. Microsoft Security Essentials is my recommendation as it keeps to itself and works fairly well on detection rates. If you check my profile I have a (slightly dated due to laziness) guide that explains why I make the case that anti-virus is your last resort for protection when it comes to preventing malware, outlining some other things to implement if security is one of your major concerns.

Be cautious with registry cleanup utilities when it comes to addressing "registry errors." CCleaner is a decent tool for the job, but always create a restore point or registry backup just in case. I've never personally had an issue with it where the PC was unusable as a result, but there's always the risk.

Once your PC is cleaned up and malware/bloatware is removed...if you continue to have Outlook errors simply try reinstalling as a first step.
posted by samsara at 6:23 AM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

After I decided not to deal with GuruAid, I rebooted (I know, I know, that's what I should have done in first place, but I got all panicky) and Outlook opened just as it should. I took the machine to a local computer fixer later that day, because I don't feel comfortable (or have the patience) to be fixing the registry errors myself.

I will definitely kick McAfee to the curb and use one of the resources suggested here.

Thak you, thank you all!
posted by Dolley at 7:58 AM on March 18, 2013

Seconding samsara on "registry errors". Most such "errors" detected by "system optimizer" programs (including CCleaner, which at least has the virtue of usually not breaking things) make no difference at all to system performance or stability, because all they amount to is extra stuff that never gets looked at.

About the only Windows tuning tool I've ever seen achieve noticeable performance improvement is MyDefrag, which works better than most other third party defragmentation tools and much better than the native ones.

But if your PC has suddenly become slow, as opposed to doing the usual Windows thing of getting a tiny bit more sluggish day by day, then what it needs is not performance tuning tools but attention from a competent repair person.
posted by flabdablet at 8:04 AM on March 18, 2013

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