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Rescue Me – PC

Rescue Me for Windows is completely different than the Rescue Me for MacOS. Rather than having a technician connect to your computer, after providing your credit card to the NortonLive agent, you are sent an email with a link to download a small diagnostic program.  After accepting the license terms, a welcome screen appears along with four check boxes as shown in Figure 4.

NortonLive Rescue Me Tool

Figure 4: NortonLive Rescue Me Tool

The program scans in the following categories:

  • Performance – checks for junk files (temporary files, browser cache files and the recycle bin), for Windows Optimization, and for free disk space.
  • Security – checks for Malware symptoms, Antivirus, Antispyware, Firewall, Windows update and, if applicable, Wireless protection.
  • Data – checks for backup software and System Restore points
  • System – checks for latest service pack, the processor, memory and the video card.

After scanning, you see a results screen shown in Figure 5.  If the Rescue Me Tool finds a problem, you have the option to repair it. I selected the Repair option, but the Rescue Me Tool was unable to solve the security problem. It did clean out junk files, however.  The security issue the Tool discovered claimed that my system had malware symptoms, but didn’t identify the malware.

NortonLive Rescue Me results

Figure 5: NortonLive Rescue Me results

If you click on any of the “More details” links, the Rescue Me tool launches Internet Explorer, even if IE isn’t your default browser, and opens up a non-resizeable window with your results (Figure 6).  In this case, since the problem wasn’t resolved, the results report also included a recommendation to contact NortonLive.  When you are finished and close the program, it uninstalls itself.

Rescue Me scan details

Figure 6: Rescue Me scan details

My curiosity was piqued when I noticed that the digital signature on the NortonLive Rescue Me Tool was signed by Support.com.  So, I had to check this out.  It turns out that Support.com has a number of virtually identical products to those offered by NortonLive. 

Interestingly, Support.com has a free PC Health Check program that sounded very similar to the NortonLive Rescue Me tool.  I downloaded, installed and ran it.  Do you notice any similarities between Figure 7 and Figure 5?

PC Health Check Results

Figure 7: PC Health Check Results

It appears that Symantec has partnered with Support.com, which provides the diagnostics, and, in all probability, performs the actual service.  In fact, if you look closely at Figure 6, in the lower right corner, you’ll see that NortonLive is a subdomain of Support.com (nortonlive.support.com).

NortonLive Rescue Me appears to be a slightly de-featured and skinned version of Support.com’s PC Health Check.  However, unlike Rescue Me, PC Health Check does not uninstall itself upon exit.  Instead, it continues to run as a service.  You have the option of scheduling scans weekly or monthly and can choose the time of day for the scan.

Closing Thoughts

In reality, both tools seemed to perform only a very top-level diagnostic.  Neither tool appeared to have checked the Windows Registry for problems.  Nor did they report on disk fragmentation, memory fragmentation, percent of MFT (Master File Table) entries in use, etc.  Both products did, however, remove junk files.  And both recommended that additional action be taken, as shown in Figure 8. 

NortonLive promoted its premium “Ultimate Helpdesk” solution ($19.99/Month + $49.99 one time setup fee or $199.99/year + setup fee) while Support.com recommended its $129.99 diagnostic and repair service. 

Comparison of recommendations

Figure 8: Comparison of recommendations from Norton Rescue Me and Support.com PC Health Check

Support.com also has an ongoing support subscription plan that appears to be identical to NortonLive’s Ultimate Helpdesk offering.  It features the same subscription price, but has a one-time setup fee that’s $40.00—$9.99 cheaper than Norton’s setup fee.

As with any technical support, your experience will only be as good as the technician that is working on your computer.  Support.com claims that their techns go through extensive training and evaluation before working on a customer’s computer.  Indeed, the technician who worked on my Mac seemed quite competent.  And, as a selling point, all techs are US or Canada-based. 

In the meantime, if you’re curious about NortonLive’s Rescue Me Tool, save yourself five bucks and download Support.com’s PC Health Check. It performs the same tests, allows you to schedule ongoing scans and it’s free

And before you sign up for an expensive support package, you might want to check out some other free diagnostic software.  Last week, Advanced System Care Free had over 365,000 downloads and CCleaner had over 153,000 downloads on cnet.com.  These tools might save you a lot more than five bucks.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, where we see if we can get rid of that malware that Rescue Me found.

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