A long time ago…at least in terms of the life of a blogger…I did a quick overview of the PC-Matic utilities for personal computers. I wasn’t overly harsh, nor overly kind, and did mention that that in my mind the best service they provided was their newsletter.
That review caused some consternation at the company, for which I received communications both from their CEO and their marketing director, Corey Munson. They also communicated their displeasure to my editor, who as usual sent their comments to me and told me to handle it any way I wished. That’s what I like about the CPATA…they do not tell me what to do, just ask me to be responsive. After all, we are a publication that mostly serves CPA firms, some of which even have fully-staffed tech support and consulting departments or use outside IT consultants, not consumers and small businesses.
On the other hand we really strive to be fair to all vendors here, and I am a fair kind of guy. Okay, not always, but I try. And PC-PitStop Marketing Director Corey Munson was a gentleman who made his points without rancor or anger, which us bloggers always appreciate. Which led to some interesting discussions with Mr. Munson about PC PitStop and PC-Matic. And a lot more respect for their 15-year-old PC utility company.
For those who are waiting for me to apologize or re-trench…nope. I stand by my original advice that this is not a utility for accounting professionals skilled in PC technology. But in fairness, I have to say that they do have a niche that could be of interest to PC techs, and that their newsletter is a fine piece of work that is worth the cost of a subscription.
So here is my re-take:
- A lot of the criticisms I had of the company eight months ago have been addressed by the company itself. An example is that if you did a Google search then, you found the system clogged with fawning, badly-written reviews. Those are mostly gone today, and Munson explained that they had some problems with distributors who were overly aggressive in their praise of the software. Fair enough.
- I still do not like their anti-virus system, which is based on the sometimes unreliable Vipre anti-virus engine. Vipre has not exactly won kudos as the best engine, but neither is it the worst. In my own trials, even this week, it seemed to churn up false positives not found in some other AV engines. On the other hand, the most aggressive engines do turn up some false positives, and there is no guarantee that the other AV engines simply missed something that would harm my computer. Seems like a wash, overall. And I would note that their engine did get kudos from the Virus Bulletin Top 100 comparative ratings this month.
- Cost is still an issue, given that there are many good and free utilities out there that do what PC-Matic does. On the other hand, with a little patience you can get an annual license for as little as $14.99, and the company just announced a lifetime offer for their software and all upgrades for $139.99. Not a bad deal in today’s economy.
So what does this mean to the average accounting firm? Not much for the firm and its computers. If you have to resort to PC-Matic for your in-house use, you should stop claiming to be a PC consultant. On the other hand, I would note two things that make this product worth the investment:
- I stand by my original statement that their newsletter is second to none. It is tech and tech support at its best, and you should buy a subscription just to get their email newsletter. Of course, if you are cheap you can simply sign up for the newsletter for free at https://cart.pcpitstop.com/emailPreferences.asp. But that is churlish. They offer good information for which I believe you should pay.
- We all have friends and neighbors who just can’t seem to stay off the gaming sites, the porn sites and the other sites that clog their computers and plant viruses. And turn to you, their family tech, to solve their problems. You have a choice…you can go over to Aunt Ethyl’s house once a month to clean the crap off of her computer, or you can spend a few bucks to install the PC-Matic software. I recommend the latter.
I still am not sold on it for an accounting office, but you are not their primary targets in the marketplace. Your clients are, and to help your clients you have two choices: have them download and run a half-dozen anti-malware programs each week (which they will not do), or recommend they install PC-Matic.
I won’t recommend what you should do, but I can tell you that I would not hesitate to give it as a holiday present to my tech-clueless relatives. As we say here in the mountains of Virginia…”Just saying.”