Attention: The forums will be placed on read only mode this Saturday (Oct. 20, 2018)

During this outage (6:30 AM to 8 PM PDT) the forums will be placed on read only mode. We apologize for this inconvenience. Click here to read details

Spyware, Viruses, & Security forum

General discussion

SETI@home - Is It Safe - or Spyware

by skycatcher / January 6, 2006 8:10 PM PST

Just wondering how "SETI@home 5.2.13" got an average user rating of 4/5 stars with only two reviews, both of which give a 1/5 star rating and both warn users NOT to use it. Cnet's details on ?Calculating the five-star ratings for user reviews? has quite a few Let-Out clauses with reference to ratings given without reviews.!!! (this is comment - not a criticism).

With this type of program, and there are others that use a "PC's spare time", unless you are 100% capable of analysing the data and what is going on, the graphics could just be a front for calculations for the latest war machines - not to mention Government Standard Spyware that can't be detected.... Conspiracy Theory.... Perhaps but can you prove it isn't ?

Thanks for reading this - comments please...!!

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: SETI@home - Is It Safe - or Spyware
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: SETI@home - Is It Safe - or Spyware
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
If you want to know how or why
by roddy32 / January 6, 2006 9:21 PM PST

CNET rates things, you should talk to whoever does the reviewing at CNET. I have NO idea who that is. This forum has absolutely nothing to do with that. We are all volunteers in here trying to help each other out with Virus or Security problems. Maybe if you post this question in the Forum Feedback forum, Admin mught be able to forward your question to the appropriate people. Here is a link for that forum.

Collapse -
Thanks Roddy
by skycatcher / January 7, 2006 2:30 AM PST

I'll give that a try. I'd still like some other views from users of this type of PC sharing program as well

Many thanks

Collapse -
(NT) (NT) You're welcome, sorry I wasn't more help.
by roddy32 / January 7, 2006 3:16 AM PST
In reply to: Thanks Roddy
Collapse -
For what it's worth......
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / January 7, 2006 5:13 AM PST

I used Seti@Home for a number of years and had no virus or spyware issues with it.

The question is difficult to answer, because any of the programs we have running continuously in the background, and that's a lot of programs when Windows is running, we really have no idea what they are doing. Are they Government sponsored war machines calculations? Government spyware?

I believe not. But that's just me.

With Seti, I looked at their web site and considered what they said they were doing and accepted that.

As an aside, Seti@Home as a separate research has now ceased. It has been superseded by BOINC, "Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing", a joint venture researching and analysing various projects, including Seti and climate change projects. So if you were considering helping the search for ET's, you would now have to share your computer time with other projects.

I am as yet undecided whether to do so.


Collapse -
The thick plottens !
by skycatcher / January 7, 2006 8:30 AM PST

Thanks for the info. I have to be careful what I'm researching as I live in Cheltenham, U.K. which is the home of the British GCHQ.

Maybe I'll stick with the Plant a Tree campaign.

Collapse -
(NT) (NT) Plant a tree campaign sounds like wise choice ;) :)
by glenn30 / January 7, 2006 8:44 AM PST
In reply to: The thick plottens !
Collapse -
You might want to rethink planting trees!
by kawetzel / January 26, 2006 8:41 PM PST
In reply to: The thick plottens !
Collapse -
seti & boinc
by bqeted / January 21, 2006 11:21 PM PST

you can chose to do any or all projects at boinc IM still doing seti and a medical project, its seems ok to use and have no problems yet.


Collapse -
by reit2know / January 26, 2006 7:14 PM PST
In reply to: seti & boinc

I was using Seti@home since it's inception on May 17, 1999, and have logged over 35,000 computer hours on one machine and over 65,000 computer hours on another machine with two separate accounts. I didn't find ET yet. But, just last month on December 15, 2005, Berkeley EDU changed the program format and went to software called BOINC which I feel uses more resources. I have since stopped crunching data from the Seti radio telescopes located at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, but that's just me. If you want to learn more about this noble project you can start with the links on the home page of the originators of this project at

Collapse -
BOINC Flexibility
by eaghassi / January 26, 2006 6:30 PM PST

I have used Seti@home for years and am now a user of BOINC. I, too, accept what the website says along with the fact that the software itself is actually a project of UC-Berkeley and most of the projects are for various research institutions.
I just wanted to mention the fact that the BOINC client gives you the choice of which projects to run - so you can stay with Seti only or abandon it altogether and choose any or all of the other projects

Collapse -
Not spyware
by LarryDRosen / January 26, 2006 8:01 PM PST

I also participated in the SETI@Home project for many years. It is hardly a govenment conspiracy; part of its genesis was the govenment's refusal to fund most SETI research!

I have stopped running it for the time being. The new BOINC software kept hosing my XP machine. It seemed worse the longer it ran, so I assumed the software has a memory leak. I may try later versions.

Collapse -
has anyone here actually tried to contact uc berkeley?
by underhook / January 26, 2006 8:48 PM PST
In reply to: Not spyware

i don't live in the US so i can't do that as easily as (i think) you guys can.

Collapse -
by paranoia11 / January 26, 2006 9:21 PM PST
In reply to: Not spyware

I used the old style for a long time. Put it on a new system an lost a hard drive. I not saying it caused the problem, however it users allot of CPU, the new version I tried for a month or 2 but also seems to use allot of CPU, I have a 3.4 Ghtz processor and 2.5 gigs of ram and still ran my CPU meter in the red. Just food for thought, have read about this being a problem on other peoples systems. paranoia (Mark)

Collapse -
Seti@home now BOINC
by bskoros / March 1, 2006 4:07 AM PST

One does not HAVE to share their computer time with another project.

If they just want to do Seti@home, then only join that program, if you wish to join more, go for it.

Use a different project on different computers if you wish.

I have been running seti for a long time now, and have made the switch to BOINC. I have had no problems with it, nor have I ever had a reason to think my system wasnt safe.

Just my .02 cents Happy


Collapse -
An indication of innocence
by pearl298 / January 27, 2006 12:20 AM PST

I think the best indication of the lack of any "malware" is the fact that seti@home (and now BOINC) depends on running on some very secure systems worldwidefor much of its user base.

COULD there be somwthing buried in the software? Of course.

However a much more productive path would seem to be some sort of NSA/Microsoft/whoever "favour" or something similar to bury the code in their software.

MS Word, Star Office etc. have access to FAR more interesting things thatn seti/BOINC ever wouuld!

BTw "open source" is not much protection from this stuff, ask any lawyer about hiding things in the "fine print" for example.

Collapse -
Trust is a BIG Issue!
by gpbarth / January 27, 2006 1:07 AM PST

I ran SETI for awhile, and gave up because I just could find no further reason to run it on my 4 computers. However, knowing that EC Berkeley is controlling the show now is one sure indication that the BOINC project can't be trusted. I wouldn't trust Berkeley to teach my kids, let alone get into my computers.

Collapse -
1984 or lunacy?
by William Randall / January 27, 2006 3:19 AM PST
In reply to: Trust is a BIG Issue!

"However, knowing that EC Berkeley is controlling the show now is one sure indication that the BOINC project can't be trusted. I wouldn't trust Berkeley to teach my kids, let alone get into my computers."

How long have they been doing this? You did not know this when you first "trusted the parent" of your kids to that which you say you are loathe to trust your kids to?

Think again and make sense this time.

Right wing. Left wing. Government conspiracy.

Get real or get out if you can't trust your shadow.

Collapse -
by Harry Nelson / April 3, 2006 4:15 PM PDT

OMG, do you even know what "open source" is? If you don't trust the software, examine the source code yourself! If you don't trust UC Berkeley, read the source code and verify it for god's sakes.

Collapse -
by Waterdog / January 27, 2006 3:47 AM PST

I have been using seti@home for many years and have switched to Boinc and have had no problem's with cpu or memory drain.And as far as latest war machine calculations if it helps our troops in Iraq im all for it.

Collapse -
Forget 1984
by William Randall / January 27, 2006 4:40 AM PST
In reply to: Seti@home

We are talking patriotism with a brain drain deficit here.

Collapse -
Conspiricy or???
by Bob-san / January 29, 2006 9:21 PM PST
In reply to: Seti@home

So awhile ago i read a short called "The Machine that Won the War"... it was written in the 50's or so, but reminds me of the entire thing.

So alot of computers (commanders's computers) feed information into one super-computer. From there the information is sent out to an army which tells that commander what to do. However, most of the info is false, and the commanders with computers? are accurate. The feed into the super-computer? Is tweaked minor-to-major by the guy who runs it. The data stream? is fine. The commander receiving the info and directions? He is using his own computer... a coin... so he would not listen to it often...

Maybe this is the same (conspiricy)... We put in info, Seti sends it to the military, or maybe this is all the same stuff going to NASA etc

Collapse -
Don't use it on a laptop
by aoconnor78 / January 27, 2006 3:56 AM PST

I would advise anybody interested in this type of software not to use it on a laptop in particular. Running a CPU at max speed for hours on end generates a lot of heat. This will significantly accelerate the aging of electronic components and can lead to mechanical problems. I almost lost my laptop to Folding@Home when a component on my motherboard came loose. I had to resolder the component to get back a stable computer.

Collapse -
Not spyware from orginal source
by Willy / January 30, 2006 1:35 AM PST

SETI is not a spyware as I've known it for years. However, since it changed to the BOINC side of doing things, I've since gotten rid of it. It was just too much to handle in that the new s/w and showing work history, etc. was nothing compared to the old SETI s/w pgm.. I had it running for 4-5 yrs. under the old method and not to be grouchy, I did try it for awhile but it seemed when I visited thier forums, other users were exoperiencing the same problem(s) and nothing was taken care of. Further, the s/w change was done during the Xmas holidays and really was bad timing even if low usage rate, but it seems many users took that "time" to finally change over and some got caught in how BOINC handles things. To be frank, I did have it running properly but when I queried for results or tasks, done with workunits and such it just sat there, that's NOT the why to get speedy results for any project. Thus, I left.... -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
by forkboy1965 / January 31, 2006 7:04 AM PST

My wife and I have run the SETI programme under both the old version and the newer method. We never had issue with the old application and were quite happy to help find ET, but the new one had a noticeable effect upon my computers performance. I eventually grew annoyed enough with it that I terminated our relationship with the SETI project. I would gladly go back if they returned to the old way of doing things though.

Collapse -
by mspears33 / February 6, 2006 1:37 AM PST
In reply to: BIONIC

I'll have to echo the previous two responders. I ran SETI's program for a few years on various pc's.
I loaded the bionic program. My first bad impression was with the un-adjustable screen size for some of the setup screens. I hate it when programmers put non-adjustable windows in a program. I have one pc that has a non-standard setup (well its 800x600, but large font) and the window was too large to fit on the screen, and couldn't be adjusted to fit. This is usually enough for me to uninstall the offending software; but I liked the cause, so I struggled though things like clicking the very bottom pixels of the title bar and moving it up off the top, just so I could see the the top of the OK button at the get the idea.
I navigated through the confusing and eventually useless way of setting up projects. But finally got rid of it when I saw how much of a resource hog it was...and its haphazard way of not working with a dialup connection to the internet.
I removed it from all my pc's except for one laptop...even on that computer it generates an error on startup and shutdown...though it does appear to be working (the screen saver is, I don't know if its transfering information or not).
I'm not terribly impressed with the 3d graphics, which seems to be the only advantage over the old seti other than being able to devote time to other projects.

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!