does your IM client secretly process things for the “cloud”?

Posted by on July 30, 2009 in geeky stuff | 2 comments

I used (past tense) digsby as a good way to manage multiple clients and platforms of messaging… but when searching for some information about a function I’d like it to have and I found this in the TOS (point 15):

“You agree to permit the Software to use the processing power of your computer when it is idle to run downloaded algorithms (mathematical equations) and code within a process. You understand that when the Software uses your computer, it likewise uses your CPU, bandwidth, and electrical power. The Software will use your computer to solve distributed computing problems, such as but not limited to, accelerating medical research projects, analyzing the stock market, searching the web, and finding the largest known prime number. This functionality is completely optional and you may disable it at any time.”

By agreeing to the standard TOS, you are allowing Digsby to use your machine as part of “the cloud” – to use your processing power and memory to run things for other people, when digsby is idle – that wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t for two things:

1) Its very well hidden down in the TOS and certainly not mentioned very openly.

2) Switching it off is nearly impossible (I couldn’t find it but it claims to be there).

A further googling confirmed my suspicions (wikipedia and others).

My advice would be to remove it and always check the TOS for these hidden things, it could be the reason your machine is slowing down…


  1. Hi Luke,

    There is more info about this on our blog post from when we first announced it.

    You can disable it in Help > Support Digsby (, however this option will be moved into a more prominent place in the preferences.

    Most importantly, it has no effect on your computer’s performance. It only kicks on after you have been idle (no keyboard or mouse activity) for at least 5 minutes and turns off as soon as there is keyboard or mouse movement. On laptops, it will use a much smaller portion of your CPUs overall processing power than it will on desktops. It will also never turn on if your laptop is running on battery power.

    A lot of our users think this is a good way to monetize a free product instead of plastering it with banner ads. However, we are always open to other alternatives and greatly appreciate feedback.

  2. Thanks for responding, my main issue is that I think it is a good way to monetise a free product, but you should be upfront about it on your site.

    I spent at least 30mins trying to find how to switch it off, or any reference other than in the TOS

    For me, when you combine this with the amount of crap you promote on install it just felt underhand. Why not be open and focus on this as the reason its free and lose the ads? People would respect you more.

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