To keep you safe your Mac needs a good scrub once in awhile. Safe from what you may wonder, well safe from having your private information viewed by the prying eyes of a hacker, or from anyone else that may have access to your computer. You may think that you have nothing to hide, or that anything you do have is pretty much useless, but think of all the personal information that you give out on the Internet. To a hacker, your so called ‘useless’ information is one heck of a jackpot.
Why Use Washing Machine or Similar Programs?
Wherever you go when you surf the web, it’s recorded by your browser and other programs that access the Internet. Working in the private investigation industry for some time, you can believe me when I tell you that you can learn a lot from someone’s browsing history. It’s similar to the old days when an Investigator would go through a person’s trash to find any information they could, which almost always led somewhere or we wouldn’t have done it. On top of this, there are more treasure troves of information hidden away in cookies, cache folders, bookmarks, and download histories. All of them containing a lot of information about you.
Washing Machine comes with a 30 day free trial and can be used with OS X 10.5 or later. After install, the program opens to a main screen where it will load any applications it supports, for cleaning. When installing there is an option to view the Washing Machine manual, which is probably a good idea if you want to use all of its functions.
Washing Machine Interface
The program layout, and overall setup is very simple looking, and simple to use. In fact it is so simple that you find yourself quickly wondering if there is more to it than you see. There is, well at least somewhat, and for that you should be sure to take a look at its manual which is available online or after download.
Features & Support
Key features of Intego Washing Machine
- Cleans temporary Internet files
- Cleans caches, download histories, browsing histories, cookies and bookmarks
- Edits cookies
- Securely deletes files
- Cleans files manually and automatically
- Schedules let you run regular cleanings
- Cleanlists and Smart cleanlists let you organize which items you want to clean
- Works with dozens of Internet programs, as well as a number of utilities that store caches, cookies and other files.
When the program opens you will see on top that there are 5 areas of cleaning to choose from, or you can select “All” which, as you probably figured out, cleans all 5 areas.
5 Cleaning Categories
- Download Histories
- Browsing Histories
Below this in a split screen there are all of the applications that can be cleaned in the category you choose, or if you picked ‘all’ it shows you all of the applications that can be cleaned in all areas listed above. To the left side is Library, which is the page you first open to that is your main cleaning utility. Then there is Schedule in which you can add any applications, and the type of cleaning they get, to a regular daily, weekly, or monthly cleaning schedule. Beneath that is a Cleaning List, where you can do as its title implies; setup a cleaning list.
The programs that Washing Machine cleans are mostly your browsers, however, it does clean some other programs that access the Internet. For a full list of what programs it cleans, including which browsers it supports, you can visit their online manual where it has a list of all the applications it supports on pages 34-36, all of which are included in these program categories:
Applications that Washing Machine Supports
- Web Browsers
- Other Internet Programs
- System Utilities
As far as support goes, the program manual states that technical support is available for registered purchasers of Intego Washing Machine. They can be reached by various emails or through their website.
This feature is a little more than cleaning. Secure cleaning doesn’t just delete the selected items, It overwrites it with random data in the place where it used to be on your hard drive. Intego points out that this is especially useful in situations where you think someone might use a special data-recovery program to undelete the file you’ve cleaned.
There are three levels of secure cleaning which are:
- Basic: Writes random data over your files once before deleting them.
- Medium: Writes random data over your files 7 times before deleting them.
- High: Writes random data 35 times.
Overall the program performed well. There were no surprises, no glitches, and it did what it said it would do. For some reason I did have trouble getting it to show some of my browser (Google Chrome) areas to be cleaned, like the bookmarks and history. I thought it may be due to the browser being open, which if it is open you cannot perform the cleaning, but even when closed it still didn’t populate in with the rest of the applications. Chrome may not be fully supported, or I may have been doing something wrong, so I don’t really count that against it.
The cleaning itself is very fast, very easy, and very simple, with the only exception being secure cleaning which is still very easy and very simple, just not very fast. Throughout the cleaning process you are warned that the step cannot be undone, so you need to be sure of you want to get rid of it as it is permanent. I think bookmarks are one that I will probably leave alone and clean myself as I do not want them all taken out and I didn’t see a way to sort through and save some.
In short, Washing Machine is good program to use to protect yourself from information theft, as well as hiding your online habits from the prying eyes of anyone else, invited or not. Although it doesn’t support a large amount of apps, it supports most of the main ones, including the top browsers which is most important. Some features that particularly stand out are the ability to schedule individual areas to be cleaned, being able to save individual cookies, and the ability to choose what you want to clean; not an ‘all or nothing’ sort of cleaner.
The bottom line on Washing Machine is that it does what it says it will do, and it does it well. I do recommend that you look through its manual, not something you need to do with a lot of programs, but definitely something you should do with this one if you want to get maximum benefits. If you don’t end up using Washing Machine to take care of these issues you should still consider cleaning these areas to make sure that someone with malicious intent doesn’t consider you their new financier.