CNET TechTracker – Not As User Friendly As It May Seem

CNET TechTracker LogoCNET Tech Tracker – we had high hopes for this one.  Granted, we didn’t really search and check out the alternatives, but it’s from CNET, the great people that give us, so it’s got to be good, right?

Erm, well we’re not impressed with it really, not by a long stretch, however we’ve coped with it for the past year or so.

There’s a few problems and niggles that we have with TechTracker.

Firstly, it is a resource hog.  Or at least it was for us.  When TechTracker decides to spontaneously show up from time to time, everything goes slow and it takes forever to open the TechTracker window, so much so that, for the last few months when we’ve seen the icon ‘bouncing’ in the dock (and believe me, we’ve watched this a lot), we’ve been instantly right clicking and selecting ‘Force Quit’.  This is because there’s much more important thing that the computer needs to be doing rather than straining loading TechTracker for 10 minutes, for us just to close it anyway.

Now it should be mentioned at this point that we’ve been using the Mac version, maybe the Windows version is different (or maybe it’s just the same! ;)).

Secondly, when you do actually want the thing to start, it takes ages, as noted above.  Also on this point, as it stays in the background while the system is running it uses too much memory for our liking.  Not an exorbitant amount, but too much considering what it actually does or the benefits of actually having it installed.

Thirdly, the ‘auto downloading’.  Now, of course you can disable this and we fully admit we were lazy and didn’t do it.  But TechTracker, periodically (it was daily for us, by default) downloads a copy of the updates to all the applications that have an update listed.  Great, this is useful!  That is unless you don’t update everything on the day that the update becomes available.  Because if you don’t, every day you’ll get a new copy of the update, delivered directly to your downloads folder.  Expect your once vast hard drive space to suddenly dwindle to a few hundred megabytes over the course of a month.  It was a bit disheartening to see update-blah-blah-47.dmg in our downloads folder.  Yes, a crisp new copy of each update, every day until the application is updated.

So why not just update more regularly?  Well there is that.  However, there are some applications that we don’t want to update.  Maybe there’s something about the new version we don’t like?  Maybe we don’t want to have to fork out hard earned cash if it’s being sold.  Either way, it should be our decision.

So, we finally decided to uninstall it.  Memory is precious and we haven’t used TechTracker for the past few months anyway.  So, with no uninstaller being present, we just trash the program and reboot.  Then, rising from the ashes, the TechTracker monitor application loads and places its ‘tt’ symbol at the top of the screen.  We thought we’d seen it off but unfortunately we’d just seen off the main app.  The ‘Preferences Pane’, as it’s referred to, was still there.

Time for a Google to find out how to remove it.  Firstly we find a post where a member of staff says to run the TechTracker Uninstaller located in the TechTracker folder in the Applications folder.  Now, we couldn’t remember seeing one of those, but we thought we’d go back and double check.  No definitely not there.

Then, we go back to Google and find another post of the CNET forums.  Staff member #2 advises we download TechTracker, reinstall it and then run the previously mentioned Uninstall mentioned above.  So we download, install and go in search of the mysterious folder again.

It doesn’t exist.  There is just the app.  By now, we’re a little bit annoyed, thinking TechTracker is as hard to get rid of as that annoying bit of spyware that lingers around on your machine for a bit until you figure out a way to outsmart it.

Well, seen as though we’ve reinstalled it, lets go to the main app and search for clues there….. We search…… not a carrot.  Not a single wiff of any kind of way to even disable it, let alone uninstall it.

So back to Google and back to another CNET forum post.  Staff member #3 suggests that we sign into our TechTracker area, select ‘Change Computer’ and click ‘Remove Computer’.  OK, this seemed a bit weird.  We didn’t just want to stop TechTracker doing its tech tracking, we wanted it off our machine, so I couldn’t understand how that was going to be performed through the CNET website, but hey, we’re getting a little desperate, so lets give it a go.

We go to the TechTracker page on CNET to log in.  Hover over the login drop down and click ‘Log In’.  Wait….. wait…. wait a bit more.  Nothing.  So we do it again.  Wait….. wait…. wait a bit more.  So we do it again.  And again once more.  We’ll doesn’t look like the log in is working.

Lets try a page refresh.  Hover on ‘Log in’, click on log in.  Woohoo, success, we’re travelling to the log in page, heaven knows what was happening previously.  Wading our way through the social login options, which we were not using, we eventually come across the standard e-mail password sign in.  We log in.  We’re in!

Nothing on the main page.  Let’s try ‘My Profile’.  Nothing there either.  By now this has already taken 20 minutes longer than it should have done.

Back to Google and back to another CNET forums thread.  Staff member #4 suggest dragging the TechTracker app to the trash and an uninstaller will appear, asking if you want to remove the dependencies, including the preferences pane (also referencing these less publicised instructions for uninstalling TechTracker).  Strange, that didn’t happen last time…. maybe it was because we were using an older version of TechTracker.  But seen as though we’ve just reinstalled it, let’s give it a go.

TechTracker gets dragged and dropped in the trash.  We wait, and wait a little bit more.  10 seconds later, the uninstaller appears. We carefully make sure everything is ticked – there’s no way we won’t to go through all this again.  And within another 10 seconds it has been banished.  Result.

The whole uninstall process debacle just confirmed our suspicions that TechTracker is most definitely not the product for us and is of a lower quality than we would expect coming from CNET.

Wonder whether CNET will want our feedback on TechTracker, maybe it’ll help improve things:

CNET TechTracker- Uninstall Thanks

OK then, guess that they’re not to keen on feedback.  Oh well, at least they said thanks :).

However, the idea of program that tracks your programs and says when updates are available is one we like, rather than having to monitor hundreds of developers sites for updates constantly.

We’ve started using AppFresh now.  It’s early days, but it’s looking good.  Not hogging resources, quick to start up and doesn’t download a bajillion copies of each update to our hard drive.  And it does things when want it to and updates what we want it to, not what it wants to do itself.

All in all, we’d recommend TechTracker users to consider the alternatives as we just don’t think it’s up to scratch.

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[…] ‘CNET Tech Tracker’ (surprise, surprise!).  Readers of the DPS blog will be aware that we wrote an article regarding CNET TechTracker earlier this month, and overall it is definitely not something we want on our […]

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