Friday, May 13, 2011

WhiteSmoke: writing tool or malware?

Some time ago I wrote a not very favorable review of WhiteSmoke, a grammar checker program which claims to be the best in its category.
Although what I found in looking at the program for my review didn’t match the inflated claims made for the software by its publisher, I didn’t think much about it, and described it as a not very useful, but legitimate, tool.
When I tried to remove the program from my computer, however, I found the software wouldn’t unintstall cleanly – and that it had peppered registry and hard drive with pieces of itself. I finally managed to uninstall it using a third-party uninstaller tool.
Later still, I found, to no great surprise, that several security programs list WhiteSmoke as malware. Not as bad as a computer virus or full-blown Trojan, perhaps, but definitely not something you want to install on your hard drive.
So the closing line of my review changes from
“The grammar checker is somewhat better than MS Word. If that is important for you, then you might consider paying for the annual license”
to
“Although this grammar checker might be somewhat better than MS Word, who cares!: you don’t want to risk infecting your hard drive with an uninstallable program that is borderline malware”.

Update

This post had disappeared, together with the two comments it had received. The disappearance had nothing to do with WhiteSmoke: Blogger suffered some problem yesterday, was offline for ours, and apparently lost or misplaced many (or all) blog posts created yesterday.

20 comments:

  1. Some year ago I installed Whitesmoke and it caused a mess in my pc. I spent days in trying to find out what had happened and, at last, I found someone in a forum who had my same problem and explained me how to solve it. I don't remember exactly what it happened but I was very happy when at last I disinstalled it.

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  2. WhiteSmoke is not a legitimate, ethical business as I see it. Every attempt to stop them spamming me with their unwanted advertisement has been unsuccessful (presumably my e-mail address was sold to them by ProZ). That a company with their trashy business practices also trashes one's Windows registry isn't very surprising. There is simply no positive value proposition there and every reason to call them to account for their practices. I hope to have the pleasure of meeting a representative of that company at a conference sometime in the future. The pleasure will be very one-sided.

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  3. Thanks for your great advice once again. although i have also ready your earlier post regarding whitesmoke and posted my comments and ask for your suggestion for another software which was suggest by you.. I have followed your suggestion about that software and for WhiteSmoke as well.

    Indeed a good information provide by you related with this software
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Really great and useful tool. I often use dictionaries, spell checkers and thesauruses. And most of all I like online versions of them, because they avaliable anywhere, where I can get Internet access, like synonyms dictionary.
    And it's possible because I always traveling and working on my small notebook, so such apps are great in different cases too.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I never used it. Got suspicious when it added a toolbar which I didn't want. Then when it wouldn't install and kept putting up annoying popups, frustration turned to anger. Reputable companies don't treat customers this way.

    Then the laborious process of overcoming their nefarious, insidious contamination of my computer. Revo finally seems to have finished the job. Thank you very much, Revo and the forums that recommend it and other helpful uninstallers. I will be more careful in the future.

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  6. Does anybody know a program equivalent to WhiteSmoke?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grammarly.com is better but much more expensive. While I am at it, not only is WS 80% crippled, you have to understand English fairly well to know when 'WM+S is suggesting incorrect corrections 80% of the time.

      Regardless, knowing its limits, I used it as a back up to Grammarly and it caught a few mistakes grammarly missed.

      However, the reason I will never go back to WS is their customer service/ billing is reliably incompetent. While they offer no way to monitor or regulate your account, you have to find their hidden email address to make any changes and then you can be sure they will almost always do the opposite of what you ask including double billing.

      Their download still causes PC errors as of 2015.

      Delete
  7. Whitesmoke is a piece of crap program that installed on my computer even after I clicked “Skip”.

    Now I cannot get rid of it no matter what I try: Remove programs, system restore, malware removers, nothing has worked. I contacted their online chat who told me they are only their for sales and they recommended I use their support email which I did. No reply.

    Google “Whitesmoke malware” if you don’t believe me. And I find it incredibly ironic that some of some peope paid for something I got for “free” that I do not want.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Grammarly.com is muc better and doesn't require a download

    ReplyDelete
  9. Watch out: they're now pushing a new 2012 version. I was burned so badly on the last one I wouldn't dare try again.

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  10. Even though when I purchased the software there was no indication that this was a time-limited product, they canceled my license and, since WhiteSmoke only works after checking with its servers, it stopped working and now they want more money to activate it again.

    So WhiteSmoke is really a scam! Stay away!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I used Whitesmoke for a year and found it to be helpful, but by no means infallible, for grammar correction. It's main use, I found, is to point out things it thinks are wrong and then let the user decide.

    Recently, I got a new computer and reinstalled Whitesmoke..suddenly i noticed my browser had been changed to a default search engine..yes it was Whitesmoke!

    It pissed me off but I changed it back to Google.. everytime I did anything the damn thing went back to Whitesmoke search....This was a foretaste of what was to come..

    I thought i had a lifetime subscription..maybe I was mistaken,..,but i got a call asking for $175 for a renewal. Make a long story short, I said No..and they told me to uninstall. Okay with that.

    I tried to uninstall with the Windows uninstall and nothing would happen. Tried CC Cleaner and still no results! Then I tried Malwarebytes and still no luck and similar results when scanning with Kaperski..

    Now I am pissed! Finally tried PC tools and a quick scan found 1220 whitesmoke problems!! I deleted them. Finally, I thought, I got rid of it.. just for the hell of it did a Deep Scan and then found another 8 Whitesmoke entries!!

    I paid 30 bucks for the PC Tools program and it worked but I dont care what they offer I will absolutely never load that damn Whitesmoke program on my computer again..

    It's a legitimate grammar checking software that takes far to many liberties with your computer and then digs in deep to prevent you from ever getting rid of it..

    ReplyDelete
  12. Whitesmoke is a scam. My license was cancelled. I cannot uninstall thr program from my PC.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It is a scam and difficult to uninstall. They say its a lifetime subscription then cancel you after a year...then hound you for a renewal..

    I am here right now because I just saw a good review of Stylewriter..a program I have tried and found to be very good but on top of the review Whitesmoke had placed and ad where they did not give their name and so the false impression was given that the review was about them!
    Typical!

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  14. I'm glad the true word about Whitesmoke is finally out there. Before I bought it, I couldn't find anything negative about it, so I bought it. Thought it had some good features, I was disappointed in how they implemented it, and used it only occasionally. Because I bought a permanent license, I received a free copy of Whitesmoke Writer recently. which I thought would be great because it was integrated into my Word. The problem is that it keeps crashing Word. Opened a ticket with Whitesmoke and their tech folks aren't very good. They finally wanted to access my PC remotely. Didn't feel comfortable with that, so I limp along.

    That's money I'll never see again.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am glad that I landed up here. I was looking for a grammar check tool for my nephew for his online writing attempts and thought Whitesmoke as a possible buy - that is before I read this blog. Thanks for the heads up, everyone, I think I will tell him to stick with Ginger, for now.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I brought Whitesmoke awhile ago and paid for lifetime license.So used it a few times but not again till a month or so again.Then they informed me that I'd need to pay again to use it.
    I emailed them with all my details i.e. payment info and license number. Yet they have not sorted it.
    After reading the above, think I have no chance of getting the lifetime license to use it again.

    Kevin

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  17. White Smoke is piece of Shit ! That s all. Offer life time licence, but they need payment every year. Beside that, compare to Ginger, White smoke is basket of shit. Simple as that. Do not buy.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Do not waste your time and money with WhiteSmoke. It is a scam.
    The company is going to bankrupt. They cancel user accounts much earlier. You will find so many negative comments and reviews on Internet about scamming with user subscriptions.

    I suggest you to use Grammarly or LanguageTool. The second one is free and really woks well.

    ReplyDelete
  19. After a short Demo period, I bought " lifetime - anywhere: accesses.
    Ever Since, I had the chance to use it less than ten times. They block my password, and when I approached technical support- no answer, the online chat is never online. Simply the worst service one can receive, at the minute you buy- lifetime access you are no longer a fruitful customer and they simply ignore you, I urge you not to spend your money on this company

    ReplyDelete

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