Screensaver.com & Freeze.com - download screensavers, themes, adware and spyware
I decided to try out one of these free screensavers I see advertised all over the internet. I know what to expect when I go to places like this but I was a little surprised to see that they are improving their adware and spyware habits. Now they are asking you if you want the adware and spyware. Do you want a free screensaver? Ok, go ahead, but you better want it very badly. There are 14 or 15 steps and you have to be careful each step of the way or you'll get some really undesirable adware and spyware. Below I've detailed what I did to install my beautiful screensaver. By the way, the screensaver didn't work for me anyway and even if it had the screensaver itself is adware.
Website - Not recommended!
A. Preparation (Note - all my protection software is freeware, no bull, just free for everyone)
1. Have WinPatrol running to detect any browser hijackings or other changes to Windows.
2. Have Startup Monitor running to instantly detect programs attempting to start up at next reboot.
3. Scan my system with current updated version of Adaware so I know my system is clean before I install the screensaver.
B. Download of the free screensaver.
1. The download required me to fill out a signup page with gender, name, email address and location.
2. Fire up my trusty copy of Total Uninstall so I can reverse almost all changes the screensaver does to my PC.
3. Use Printkey 2000 to take screen shots of the install process as I go along.
C. Install Screens and commentary (click the number on the side to see the screen shot)
1. The Welcome screen: Box to make Freeze.com your home page and add IE shortcuts - No thanks
2. Quick Registration: Now they want me to register again? Can't get past it without putting something in.
3. Yahoo Toolbar: Option to install Y! Toolbar. Now why is Yahoo affiliated with these guys?
4. Offer to install WhenU software. No way! See this search at Google.
5. Offer to install NewDotNet software. No way! See this search at Google.
6. Offer to install Relevant Knowledge software. No way! See this search at Google.
7. Read and agree to Freeze.com license. Scary stuff. Look at items 7, 10 and 11 in the license.
8. A Thankyou Screen. Thanks for paying for this the hard way. Spyware, Adware and Privacy loss.
9. Popup in IE showing another free offer. The popups start here if you said yes to the third party software.
10. Thought the install was done? Haaa! Now they go out and download some more junk.
11. Used NetMon to show where they get the download from.
12. They want to run a test on my PC? I don't think so. No.
13. Now they put an upgrade icon on my desktop? They said this was a free screensaver.
D. Detection and Cleanup
1. Ran current updated version of Adaware to scan for bugs they added. Surprise! Came out clean except for cookies.
2. Tried out the screensaver. Doesn't work. Maybe I have the wrong version of DirectX.
3. Used Add/Remove in Windows Control Panel to remove screensaver. Surprise! They did a good job there.
4. Ran Total Uninstall to remove any leftovers. Just in case.
5. Ran Adaware again, rebooted, ran it once more. No nasties found.
6. Ran HiJackThis and analyzed it at http://hijackthis.de. No nasties found.
E. Analysis / Review
Just downloading and installing this program took at least 15 minutes of filling out forms and making sure I didn't get anything I didn't want. I'm not using anything from Freeze.com again. All in all I'd say that the screensaver itself is adware/spyware and the license agreement allows Freeze.com to do anything they want to your computer so that they can serve you ads. They can connect to the internet and download and install more software. They can collect information on you and pass it along to anyone they want to. No thanks. I can find real freeware screensavers.