• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Finally, you can manage your Google Docs, uploads, and email attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) in one convenient place. Claim a free account, and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) can automatically organize your content for you.

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ScreenSaverDotCom

Screensaver.com & Freeze.com - screensavers, adware and spyware

Adware - Not Recommended

reviewed by ClifNotes, 2 Jan 2005, updated Jan 2006

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Notes

I wrote this review in January of 2005. Many of the details of downloads at Screensaver.com may have changed since then but I doubt if their attitude towards you, the customer, has changed much.

 

Overview

I decided to try out one of these free screen savers 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 screen saver? 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 screen saver. By the way, the screen saver didn't work for me anyway and even if it had the screen saver itself is adware.

 

A. Preparation and protection

Notice that 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 StartupMonitor 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 screen saver.

 

B. Download of the free screen saver.

  • 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 TotalUninstall so I can reverse almost all changes the screen saver does to my PC.
  • 3. Use PrintKey2000 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? I can't get past this screen without putting something in. Notice that I don't use a real email address. I used a fake Mailinator account, so I don't get any spam. Mailinator simple to use, just make up a name@mailinator.com and then remember to check the name later to see what email it's gotten at Mailinator.com online.
  • 3. Yahoo Toolbar: Option to install Yahoo 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 screen saver.

 

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 screen saver. Doesn't work. Maybe I have the wrong version of DirectX.
  • 3. Used Add/Remove in Windows Control Panel to remove screen saver. Surprise! They did a good job there.
  • 4. Ran TotalUninstall 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

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. I'd say that the screen saver itself is adware or 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 screen savers. There are a few here at FreewareWiki, just type "screen saver" into the search box.