Internet Cleanup 5.0 review

As you use the Internet, traces of your activities build up on your Mac in the form of things such as cookies, caches, entries in your browser history, transcripts of instant messaging chats, and email attachments. Smith Micro’s Internet Cleanup provides a suite of tools to help you locate and delete such data to protect your privacy. Several additional tools in the package protect your Mac against certain kinds of spyware, hacking, and other threats.

If you use one browser most of the time, Internet Cleanup is barely more convenient than most browsers’ built-in tools for managing this data, and perhaps less so as it doesn’t give you any way to search hundreds of cookies or visited URLs other than providing a list that you must scroll through manually. And the program provides no clues as to which of the items in that list might be especially sensitive or in need of deletion.

Internet Cleanup can delete the log files (or transcripts) from any of eight instant messaging programs – including iChat but, curiously, not Skype. It can also delete email attachments from Mail, Entourage, Eudora, or Thunderbird, according to rules you specify. Unfortunately, when testing this feature with Mail, we found that it ignored IMAP and MobileMe accounts. The company is aware of this issue and is looking for a way to resolve it.

The SpyAlert feature searches your entire hard disk – very slowly – for suspected spyware. There being so little of it on the Mac, there will likely be nothing to find. Network SpyAlert, on the other hand, watches all your applications and alerts you when any of them send data over the Internet, optionally showing you exactly what data is being sent and received.

Although this could in principle identify spyware in action, in reality it is most likely to annoy you with a string of alerts asking for permission to do perfectly legitimate things such as visit web pages and check for software updates.

OUR VERDICT

If you use several browsers and prefer to delete all traces of your Internet activities en masse, Internet Cleanup can make the job much easier. But many of Internet Cleanup’s more granular capabilities are already built into your favourite web browser or into OS X itself.

The other features are a mixed bag: several are reasonably good, some seem incomplete, and a few may strike you as more irritating than the threat they’re supposedly protecting against.

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