PCMatic Review: Is PC Matic Any Good?
PC Matic is antivirus software for users who are looking for affordable protection. We took our time to review PC Matic and see that it provides an effective optimization, whitelisting approach to malware detection, and a low impact on system load.
This isn’t common antivirus but a set of optimization tools capable of boosting system performance. It removes junk files, defragments local disks, and ensures cleanup tasks but lacks additional features like VPN, parental control, or Password Manager that other solutions may offer.
PC Matic uses a whitelisting approach, which may lead to blocking legit apps and programs, which can be quite frustrating for many users; nonetheless, thanks to the recent update, you can now whitelist all known apps before the scan.
Malware detection rates during our test were quite acceptable. System load was low, and there’s a lot of room for tweaking during the scans.
PC Matic offers a yearly plan for up to 5 PCs. This US-based product supports Windows, Mac OS, and Android but doesn’t yet have a mobile app for iOS like many other antivirus suits like Norton or McAfee have, so PCMatic is not an industry leader in this field.
One may see support response is not as good as it could be, and we agree with this; support should be a little more responsive.
We should mention, while the PC Matic interface is friendly, it might be a bit confusing for some users.
The List of Pros and Cons
- Impressive white-list-based anti-malware protection
- Affordable, compared to similar products
- Offers a lifetime subscription
- Results page is very informative
- PC optimization tools are excellent
- Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Abundance of false positives in third-party lab tests
- Hasn’t yet been tested by many independent companies
- Manual tests aren’t very easy to run
- A unique approach to detecting and eliminating malware
- Whitelisting, Fileless Script Block and RDP Port Controls
- Compatible with every single Windows OS, starting with XP
- Available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese
- Full support of Android devices
- Automated PC Maintenance
- Low system impact, works with decades-old computers
- Built-in AdBlocker
- Very user-friendly, easy to install
Modern-day antivirus products focus all of their resources on detecting and eliminating malware threats. Tune-up/optimization tools come as a bonus, nothing more. That’s not the case with PC Matic: developed by PC Pitstop, an Iowa-based company, it uses an entirely different approach. It constantly offers solid support for both new and existing customers due to its functions. First of all, it’s a tool for tuning up your computer; the built-in antivirus is just a small part of the package.
Furthermore, you won’t find the traditional signature/heuristic scanning techniques here. Pitstop believes that whitelisting is the best tool against malware. Fileless Script Blocking and RDP Port Controls will also make sure your device is safe and sound. Let us go ahead with the PC Matic review and talk more about these highly unusual methods of dealing with online threats.
Features of PC Matic
- Owners of outdated computers
- People that are still using Windows XP
- Users looking for an all-in-one product
Reliability and Security
PC Matic isn’t a regular antivirus solution – we have already established that in this review. And for that reason, it is a bit tricky to test it. To make sure we achieved accurate results, our team of experts used a tried-and-true testing method. First of all, we downloaded the software and checked its functions. That allowed us to focus both on the pros and the cons. Next, we put this antivirus solution through a series of “trials.” Security, safety, and user experience – we evaluated everything. We as well did the research into the results of the leading software testing labs to stay objective.
Recently, Virus Bulletin ran this software through a series of tests, and it managed to earn a perfect (100%) detection rating. However, while this product was fantastic in the RAP test, in the VB100 test, it failed several times.
But that’s because PC Matic is constantly blocking valid programs. In the AV-tests, the antivirus earned a perfect score for performance, but rather average results in the zero-day attacks test. At the same time, it blocked 800+ legit programs. For comparison, Webroot SecureAnywhere used to be the product with the higher level of false positives, and it had only 12 of those.
For the actual performance tests, we used the same pack of malicious samples that we did with every other tested product. Finally, we went through the refunding process from the consumer’s point of view.
In our series of tests where we intentionally plant malware samples on the system, PC Matic blocked them all. To clarify: most of these were blocked because they were not on the whitelist. Only 18 percent of those samples were called dangerous by the Super Shield. Another 54% were labeled unknown, while 11% were flagged as good, but were still blocked.
We launched the same “pack” of malware samples the next day, and the results were different. All the unknown and good samples were now labeled as dangerous. That’s because whenever this product comes across unknown files/apps, it submits them for an in-depth analysis. And, 24 hours later, all these unknowns are identified.
Whitelisting: Advanced Malware Protection
Since whitelisting is a new way of detecting malware, you’re probably wondering how it works. Most antiviruses on the market create blacklists of constantly evolving malware codes/algorithms. PC Matic does the opposite: it creates a whitelist of known safe files. So, whenever it encounters files from the list, it leaves them alone.
All the other files are sent to the company’s research team for analysis and quick tests. As we’ve just mentioned, it takes up to a full day for the team to categorize the unknown files either as safe or dangerous. The most significant disadvantage of this method is that you’ll always have to manually “tell” the antivirus that specific files, programs, and sites shouldn’t be blocked.
But whitelisting isn’t the only technology used by PC Matic. Hackers are known to use tools like PowerShell to install malware without any .exe files. The Fileless Script Block is the company’s exclusive agent that is excellent at detecting malicious scripting activity. Finally, RDP Controls prevents criminals from getting access to RDP ports.
PC Matic Features in Details
As mentioned in the beginning, the PC Matic goes beyond being just a security suite and substantially adds to system optimization. It’s a balanced security slash tune-up suite that focuses on removing junk files, patching up security holes in various apps, and defragmenting your local discs.
PC Matic is also fairly good at speeding up the OS by keeping the registry clean, downloading and installing the latest drivers, and tidying up the startup list.
The set of available tools and features is, indeed, impressive, and while some of them are almost exact copies of the Windows modules, that doesn’t make them any less useful. All the tune-up tools are a part of Automated Maintenance, and the users are free to choose which features to use and which ones to skip. So, let us go ahead and take a closer look at everything that this product has to offer.
First, we’ll take a look at the security-oriented features and then move on to the optimization tools. A quick note before we proceed: Unlike most antivirus programs, PC Matic doesn’t come preinstalled with an anti-malware engine. You’ll have to download it manually from the official website. The scans are available from the get-go, but, again, the antivirus core is a separate download.
PC Matic System Scan
With PC Matic, scans are a bit different from the other products. Instead of running a specific test that focuses on finding and dealing with malware, you run a full scan. It includes complete disc fragmentation, performance tweaks, and, of course, malware detection. First, the software launches a quick diagnostic scan to check for issues in the OS and to attend to them.
Performance, Security, Maintenance, and Stability are the cornerstones of this scan. In a way, this is a combination of tune-ups, optimization, defragmentation, and regular antivirus scans. Junk files, craplets, driver updates, and potentially dangerous files – that’s what PC Matic checks the system for. Next, it runs a number of benchmark tests and creates a detailed report.
Failed tests are painted red; gray indicates that a particular test was skipped. Green means your PC performed excellently in a test. With yellow, blue, and purple, you get quick tips and possible solutions. You can run a malware scan separately: all you have to do is uncheck all the other options.
Note: this is the quick malware scan we’re talking about. If you need the full scan, you’ll need to go Options – Scan Options – Quick/Full Malware Scan and select Full.
A full system scan in PC Matic can be launched from the main dashboard. However, it won’t be just a malware scan. Instead, the software will run a diagnosis to reveal any potential problems/things that can be fixed in the OS. Once the scan is done, you’ll see a detailed report. It will be divided into four different parts: Performance, Security, Disk, and Other.
Red means you need to deal with those problems ASAP. Skipped scans are grey, while green means everything is running smoothly. With PC Matic, it’s up to you to decide whether you want it to fix all those issues or not. The good news is – it takes the software only a couple of minutes to “work its magic.” Scheduled scans are, of course, also available.
PC Matic System Scan in PC Matic Home Security Free
During our review, we were a bit disappointed with the free edition’s scanning capabilities. While it isn’t any different from the paid version, it takes more time to complete its scan. At first, we waited for up to 2 hours. The second attempt was more successful, but PC Matic Free showed bad results. All that we got was a detailed report with a list of issues. To fix those, we had to upgrade to the commercial edition.
PC Matic System Scan in PC Matic Home Security
Home Security completed the first full scan in less than ten minutes, which is pretty impressive. However, we have to warn you that malware scanning isn’t always activated in the program’s settings. So, make sure you include it in every scan. Otherwise, the focus will be solely on optimization, and all the viruses won’t be dealt with
PC Matic SuperShield
As we mentioned briefly earlier, PC Matic’s antivirus engine needs to be downloaded and installed separately. But, it’s quite reliable and can easily detect and eliminate most incoming attacks. Called the SuperShield, it’s only available with the paid editions. This module uses the so-called “whitelisting” approach. Instead of creating a database of all the known malicious files, it refers to a database of files/apps that have proven to be harmless.
That significantly reduces the system impact and successfully deals with zero-day attacks. If you see SuperShield’s icon in the tray, that means it’s active in the background. This tool is very easy to use. After a scan, it creates a list of good (marked green), suspicious (yellow), and unknown/malicious (red) files. During our tests, it proved to be incredibly effective not only against malware but also ransomware. Sadly, the number of false positives was a bit too high.
PC Matic Junk Files Remover
As the name suggests, this tool has only one task: to clean your hard drive(s) from junk. This term is used to describe unnecessary temp files, doubles, old registry entries, and more. After a scan is complete, you’ll see a “Junk Files Test” in the Performance section. As always, PC Matic will create a list of the “suspects” and allow you to choose which ones should be deleted or which ones should be removed.
Depending on how old your system is and how many apps you install monthly, this feature can be quite useful. First of all, it will (potentially) save a lot of space on your drives. Secondly, it will make the operating system work faster and with fewer errors by introducing stability.
PC Matic Optimizing broadband
PC Pitstop’s Optimize is a very powerful program. It aims to improve your device’s overall performance but mostly focuses on getting rid of craplets and maximizing the internet connection speed. Rogue programs and non-essential background cycles can put a lot of strain on the CPU and the RAM. Optimize eliminates all of that. Next, it increases the download speed by “fine-tuning” some advanced settings in the Windows OS.
Now, don’t expect it to turn a slow connection into a lightning-fast network, but the improvements can actually be quite significant. The same is true for the anti-craplet module. By the way, you can run a fast Optimize scan for free: download the installer from the official website, and it will do the rest.
PC Matic Defragmenting all local discs
PC Matic’s defragmentation tool isn’t that different from the built-in Windows feature. There are a couple of differences, though. For example, it creates a more detailed report and gives you a bit more control over the process. Plus, it requires less time to complete and has a lower system impact, especially on older devices/systems.
A quick warning: by default, PC Matic runs a “defrag” of all located drives, including SSD disks. However, it’s strongly recommended not to do that, if you have one, as this process can damage it. And if you only have the good old HDDs, don’t hesitate to run full defragmentation, as that will, most certainly, have a positive effect both on the hardware and the software.
PC Matic Updating all the drivers on the OS
Here, we have another essential feature. The Updater locates outdated drivers on the OS (not only for the Windows or Mac system modules but also all the installed apps) and downloads all the latest updates. In most cases, newer drivers equal better performance, improved security, and, overall, a better experience for the user.
That’s pretty much everything there is to know about the PC Matic updater. Again: in contrast to the built-in Windows/Mac feature, it looks for new drivers for all the programs running on the OS, not only system drivers. Other than that, it’s basically the same.
PC Matic Cleaning the registry, speeding up the system
Like almost all the other PC Matic maintenance features, this one is focused on boosting the overall system performance. By cleaning the registry, it does, indeed, speed up the OS. Like the defragmentation tool, the scale of the positive effect depends a lot on how old or new your system is.
On older computers that haven’t been updated for a long time, registry cleanup tends to do a lot of good. On a brand-new machine with a fresh system (say, Win10 with the latest updates), you might not feel any immediate changes. The whole process takes less than a minute and doesn’t require user involvement, by the way.
PC Matic Improving SSD performance
We want to stress out once again that this feature shouldn’t be used if you’ve got an SSD installed on your computer. PC Matic claims it’s 100% harmless and will maximize performance, but it would be best not to use any disc tune-up/speed up tools when there’s an SSD up and running. These drives are significantly faster than the regular HDDs and don’t need any optimization to begin with.
PC Matic Excluding non-essential apps from the startup list
It’s no secret that over time, the system startup list gets overcrowded and overwhelmed. And the worst part is – the user may not even need most of the apps that launch with the OS and make it work slower.
In other cases, we forget about all the extra apps or just don’t think that startup optimization is even worth it. Well, it is, and PC Matic does an excellent job of revealing the programs have the most significant adverse effect.
After that, it’s up to you to decide which applications should remain in the startup list and which ones can be removed from it.
PC Matic Getting rid of non-essential OS tasks
When speaking about non-essential tasks, we’re mostly referring to system processes running in the background. They tend to clutter the RAM and put extra strain on the CPU. And PC Matic has a handy tool for removing those apps and freeing up system resources for other, more critical tasks. We’re only talking about managing non-essential OS processes, of course.
So, if you decide to just open the Windows Task Bar and remove a bunch of processes, that can end badly. With PC Matic, however, the focus will only be on the apps that can be closed without any unwanted consequences.
PC Matic Speeding up downloads in Internet Explorer and Firefox
Along with optimizing the broadband and improving the Internet speed (mentioned earlier), PC Matic also boosts browser performance. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer can benefit from this. There are a lot of small tweaks that together make a difference and help the Internet (or, instead, the browsers) work faster. This module isn’t unique to PC Matic (obviously); yet, that doesn’t make it any less useful.
After a full scan, the software will tell you whether there is room for optimization or not. Just like all the other processes, this one takes very little time to complete.
PC Matic Patching up security holes in software
Did you know that there are vulnerabilities in modern-day apps that cybercriminals exploit? That’s right: some so-called “security holes” give them easy access, and PC Matic can fix that. Now, while it’s not as effective in this as the leaders in the field, we still highly recommend letting it patch up those holes. You never know where the next attack will come from, and an extra layer of defense can definitely come in handy.
PC Matic Adblocker stopping annoying pop-ups
The AdBlocker is a relatively simple tool – it works just like all the other ad blockers. With it on, you’ll get rid of most malicious and annoying ads. The so-called “malvertising” attacks have evolved over the last couple of years, but PC Matic is doing a fantastic job of eliminating them. As for the ads, they are known to collect personal information, including browsing habits.
PC Matic Performance
You’ll be surprised by how little system impact this product has. We already mentioned that it can work with Win XP (along with Vista, 7, 8, and 10). On the official website, hardware requirements include a 1GHz CPU, 512MB RAM, and 1GB of free space on the hard drive. Yes, PC Matic is the least demanding antivirus on the market.
We ran several tests with PC Mark, and they all proved this. An OS Without this software earned a score of 2500; with it installed, the score was 2492. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need to be connected to the Internet to perform tests. Secondly, once a scan is done, PC Matic requires a reboot, and then it starts another scan.
Ease of Use
Although this is a highly unusual antivirus, it’s still on par with the most user-friendly solutions. While Android is also supported, it is clear that PC Matic was initially designed for Win-run PCs. Installation is very fast and easy – you won’t have any problem with downloading and installing the software. A regular user might be a bit intimidated by all the available options, but, again, the interface is very friendly.
Some antiviruses tend to warn the user when he/she visits potentially dangerous websites or downloads .exe files from the Internet. One of the best things about this product: it doesn’t “attack” you with pop-up messages all the time. The biggest downside – PC Matic slows down the launch of standard apps. In this regard, it lags behind the competition.
How Much Does PC Matic Cost?
With this antivirus solution, the list of available packages/subscriptions isn’t that big. You only have the standard Home Security plan and the Lifetime subscription (yes, it doesn’t have an expiration date). And then there’s the optional PC Magnum add-on aimed at protecting your privacy.
Take a look at the prices:
|Plan||5 devices||10 devices||15 devices||20 devices|
|PC Matic Annual||$50||$100||$150||$200|
|PC Matic Lifetime||$150||$300||Not available||Not available|
|PC Magnum||$30||60||Not available||Not available|
These plans offer protection (and optimization) for different number of devices. The customers can purchase licenses for up to 20 devices, which is quite impressive and make it best paid antivirus. However, that won’t change any details of your coverage or access to any additional features. Moreover, in comparison with the competitors, these price-tags are highly affordable.
The Lifetime subscription, in turn, is a unique opportunity to save a lot of money. No other antivirus/optimization product on the market offers a similar deal.
These plans are parts of PC Matic Home Security option. There’s also a free version available, but it’s not particularly impressive. The only thing that a user can do with it is run scans. However, once the test is over, you won’t be able to fix any issues with PC Matic unless you purchase one of the available plans. With the paid plans, you can always rely on a 30-day money-back guarantee and get a refund during those 30 days.
PC Matic Home Security Free
PC Matic’s free edition is a somewhat limited program. All that it can do is run a scan (that usually takes a VERY long time) and give you a report. However, it won’t take any action until you upgrade to Home Security (the paid edition). Plus, you’ll be welcomed by a pop-up message prompting you to switch to the higher tier every time you try to access any of the available features.
Overall, even as a free product, it’s not a very good choice. You’ll be better off with the free editions of Avira and Avast.
PC Matic Home Security
Home Security is one of the most affordable commercial antivirus products on the market. Compared to the likes of Kaspersky, Norton, Bitdefender, and TotalAV, it’s not as impressive, though. The package doesn’t include a VPN, parental controls, or a safe browser. But, if you don’t need a long list of extras and are just in the market for reliable protection on a budget, it will be a good investment. That’s especially true for the lifetime plan.
In contrast to the free edition, Home Security runs fast, thorough scans and includes a reliable antivirus engine – the SuperShield. Plus, it features an ad blocker that’s very effective at blocking ad pop-ups. It stops invasive messages and prevents adware from causing harm to the OS.
PC Matic PC Magnum
Essentially, this is a tool that grants control over/protects your personal information. First of all, PC Magnum removes cookies that track and remember your browsing habits. Next, it gets rid of the browser cache (that stores images) and the document history (everything you opened/launched on the OS). Last but not least, PC Matic’s add-on program eliminates browser history.
PC Magnum can access and delete browser history in Chrome, Firefox, and, of course, the Internet Explorer. It scans and cleans:
- Image cache
- Download history
- Recent Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents
- Recycle bin
PC Matic has always been a Windows-oriented program. Then, PC Pitstop added Mac support, and it turned into a robust solution for desktop computers. These days, it’s 100% compatible with Android and any mobile device running on this platform as well. Sadly, iOS support is not a part of the deal right now. With that said, let us go ahead and talk about each available version in more detail.
PC Matic for Windows
This software has a low system impact and can run on very old computers (both hardware and software). It is compatible not only with the latest Windows 10, but also 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and even XP. Officially, both 64- and 32-bit versions are supported. And here are the official system requirements:
- 1-GHz CPU
- 512MB of RAM
- 1GB of free hard-drive space
PC Matic for Mac
The owners of macOS 10.12 and higher (Sierra up to Catalina) will be able to use PC Matic without any issues. In many ways, it’s the same antivirus as the Windows edition, with the same whitelisting approach to dealing with malware and a long list of maintenance features. And, you’ll be able to use it on a modest computer with older hardware.
PC Matic for Android
Available on Google Play for download, PCMatic for Android is quite a useful app. It’s equally good at optimizing performance and keeping hacker attacks at bay. Real-time protection and on-demand scanning turn it into a worthy competitor. You can even manage your mobile design from the web, which can be fairly useful.
PC Matic for iOS
Right now, PC Matic is not available for iOS users. That means you won’t be able to use it on any Apple device.
Support and Customer Service
On the PC Matic official website, you’ll find a lot of useful information. The list includes an extensive FAQ page, lots of how-to videos, and user guides. On the Customer Service page, there’s some sort of an interactive knowledge base. The system will ask you a series of questions and give answers depending on the information you share with it.
True, it’s not as easy and friendly as, say, a live chat, presented above, but you will be able to solve most of your problems. On the Technical Support page, users can send a message via email. According to the website, it won’t take more than a day for the customer to get an answer. Our team of experts tested that claim several times and confirmed that they answer relatively quickly.
There’s also a 32-page long user’s guide with detailed info on every single feature PC Matic has. The how-to videos are very helpful and easy to understand. If you’re not a tech-savvy user, these will let you make sense of all the available features. Topics like installation, logging in, scheduling, and system cleaning are fully covered.
PC Matic Alternatives & Competitors
Looking for good alternatives to PC Matic Antivirus? We can help you: