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Clean It for $1000

Do the math.

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Ask yourself this, oh Windows (l)users: you're on a limited budget. Or so you say. You have $400 to invest in a new computer. You've heard that Windows can be nasty and risky but fortunately you have a friend/neighbour/relative who you're pretty sure can be roped into helping you for free.

How much is the help you'll get actually worth?

Considering how crappy Windows is you'll need to clean your computer at least twice in its weary lifetime. And that's putting it mildly.

So take these rates from Geek Squad.


See the category 'Diagnostic & Repair (Virus & Spyware Removal)'. That's what you'll need. If they clean your machine at home it's $300; if you bring your box to them it's only $200. They also claim they can clean your system on the phone or online for $170.

Considering you like most Windows (l)users are willing to pay $30 to run a software install wizard or $130 to run a system install it's not likely you'll be able to accomplish anything sophisticated. So whatever the baristas at Geek Squad do it's not going to be particularly sophisticated. Yet it will still cost you.

There are approximately 1.5 billion PCs running today. 80% of these (or more) are infected with an average of 30 (or more) pieces of malware. They all need 'Diagnostic & Repair (Virus & Spyware Removal)'.

Do the math.

1,500,000,000 * 0.80 * $200 ==> $216,000,000,000

That's TWO HUNDRED SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS. And it assumes everyone brings their computer in.

That's over twice the damage to businesses worldwide caused by Windows worms. That's over four times what Bill Gates is worth on a good day.

And yet this still doesn't tell the full story. Alpha has the word.

One (l)user's box? Typically the boxes I come across are full of malware, have outdated virus defs - if a suite is even installed at all, and have outdated programs. Not to mention the fact that Windows has never been updated since being first started up. Of course, as is the case with many home machines OOTB, they're running as admin.

Backups? What backups? Off to Knoppix to handle the documents. I'm sometimes asked what that system is.

If...IF...Windows is only full of spyware and doesn't have any rootkits, it takes me typically 4-5 hours just to clean the machine. (Rootkit Revealer, Ad-aware, install Windows Defender...if the damn system isn't pirated to begin with.) If the security suite is outdated and the anti-virus demands $$$ for updates, I'll offer to uninstall it with an explanation that they aren't 'safe' and replace with Avast and Comodo Firewall (without the annoying Defense alerts).

I've seen Windows boxes with the suites they try to sell you at Worst Buy...they won't stop the malware...

For one friend, his box was beyond help. I wiped the drive with a fresh install. Fortunately, the box came with a real Windows CD and other recovery tools including drivers. You don't get all that anymore. Even the recovery CDs they have you burn on your own are a joke. It took me 3 days to give him a fully tweaked and optimized system with all of the programs and protection he needs. Unfortunately, he still insisted on an admin account. He hasn't been back...yet. Three days.

It takes me a day at most to get an OS X box up and running from scratch and maybe 2-4 hours with Linux (assuming everything works and doesn't need much tweaking).

And after I clean that Windows box? I still have to run Windows Update. The time spent depends on how much needs to be installed. And since Windows/Microsoft Update (doesn't matter which you choose) is slow, I expect 3-5 hours just to get all of the updates in place (and countless reboots in between).

Then comes the trialware removal at their request. Norton is a nasty one to get rid of. Maybe another 1-2 hours to make sure every last bit of those shenanigans are gone.

Next, I install the relevant programs they need. Perhaps another hour or two depending on their needs.

And then the saved documents, etc. are brought back if they were backed up.

Lastly, once everything is in place: Remove the junk, optimize and defrag the registry, and finally disk defragmentation. At best, a few hours. At worst? An overnighter. I tell them not to touch the machine until the defrag is done and then to restart the computer. Whether they listen to that, who knows. I'm gone by then unless I took the box home.

That is just with one box.

You do the math.

The math says that job is worth at least $1000. How cheap is that $400 box now?

See Also
Rant of the Week: Unable to Clean

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