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Internet Cleanup 3

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If you use the Web a lot, you may want to occasionally or regularly remove all traces of your Internet activity: your browser cache files, chat transcripts, cookies, or other files. Allume’s Internet Cleanup 3 streamlines these tasks (which you can also perform manually in the Finder or within individual applications) by providing a simple way to delete browser caches, auto-fill data, chat transcripts, browser history files, and e-mail attachments. The program also has features that look for spyware and keystroke recorders, thus protecting your Mac while you surf.

Internet Cleanup 3 adds network security to its original cleaning functions. While this makes the program more valuable, it comes at the expense of a more complicated interface and configuration. The new features also make Internet Cleanup seem disjointed, as though unrelated features have simply been grafted onto the previous version. Even the name Internet Cleanup, which once clearly described the program’s functions, now seems out of place.

In addition, the documentation is poorly written and full of grammatical and spelling mistakes; I mentioned this in a previous review (   ; March 2005 ), but this problem has not been corrected.

Confusing and time consuming

Internet Cleanup 3 has an annoying, quirky main window that changes size when you click different toolbar icons. When you open the program, you don’t see all the icons in its toolbar, but rather some icons and a >> icon (indicating “more”) at the right edge of the toolbar. You can click this to select functions that are not visible in the toolbar, but I found this confusing. Even the Preferences pane is too small to display all the available icons, but at least this window contains a horizontal scrollbar so users know that there’s another icon.

Moreover, many of the program’s functions are slow. If you don’t uncheck preferences for the instant-messaging programs and Web browsers that you don’t use, Internet Cleanup spends a lot of time looking for their associated files.

Looking for spies

While the Mac is not usually the target of spyware (that’s a distinction of the Windows operating system), certain Mac applications do attempt to connect to the server. But Internet Cleanup’s Network SpyAlert function, which searches for such spyware on your hard drive, takes a long time because the program searches every file on your computer. Even on my test machine, a 933MHz iBook G4 with relatively few applications installed, it took more than an hour for SpyAlert to get through its routine. SpyAlert warns you when your applications attempt to connect to the Internet, and lets you choose to block or allow network access for specific applications. But when you look at the configuration pane for this part of the program, you can see that it is actually an application-level firewall that allows or blocks connections by protocol and port. This can be confusing for many users for whom these terms and concepts are foreign, and the manual does not explain the concepts in enough detail.

More disturbingly, the program returned only false positives: a handful of Adobe Acrobat sequence files. Allume says that such files are flagged because they “might have a similar profile to a known piece of spyware.”

You can run SpyAlert and other functions simultaneously, but this makes each function crawl.

You can use Internet Cleanup’s Scheduler to set days and times for the program to automatically wipe your files, though it quits the applications that the program cleans, so you won’t want it to run while you’re working.

Blocking ads

If you’re tired of seeing Web page ads, you can use Internet Cleanup’s NetBlockade feature to block them. It uses a built-in list of URL patterns to find ads, but you also can set your own patterns when advertisements slip through its filter. NetBlockade also gets rid of annoying pop-up windows, making your Web browsing more enjoyable.

Macworld’s buying advice

Internet Cleanup 3.0 does much more than simply rid your Mac of Internet detritus, and does those things efficiently, but now the program suffers from feature-bloat. In its attempt to be a more thorough Internet security program, it has become confusing and slow.

[ Kirk McElhearn is the author of many books on Mac OS X, including How to Do Everything with Mac OS X Tiger (Osborne; 2005). His blog, Kirkville talks about Macs, iPods, and more. ]

Internet Cleanup shows what it’s going to delete, and lets you find out more by clicking the Details button for each type of file or data.
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