PC Pitstop Research Methodology

Our mission at PC Pitstop is simple: help people make their PCs faster, more stable and more secure. PC Pitstop runs diagnostics on users’ PCs to identify things that might help improve performance. The process is fully automated, private and safe.

In addition to providing a unique user service, we also provide extensive PC research capabilities. Because our service collects PC information about all the systems we test in real time, we’re able to provide up-to-the minute and detailed analysis of various PC trends, including removable storage, Internet plug-ins, most popular software and tons more. Plus, customized research reports are available if specific information or trend data is required.

Our Research Respects User’s Privacy

PC Pitstop looks at PCs, not people. We only examine the parameters necessary to perform a diagnostic on a PC. This includes disk capacity, disk fragmentation, lost clusters, free disk space, number of partitions and so on. The results are stored in our databases. We do not look at the contents of user files, browser history information, credit card information or any other personal data. The only user information that is optionally collected (if provided by the user) is a username and e-mail address as detailed in our privacy policy.

Our research simply puts together Windows and PC information so we can examine where, why, and how the PC market is evolving. The data we generate is statistical and does not identify specific users.

Our Research Is Unique

Traditional means of PC research are limited by two main factors: timeliness and accuracy. Typically, data may be gathered through a phone interview, poll or survey–and it may take a year to produce results and subsequent updates. Accuracy is limited, because these research models depend on users’ abilities to properly identify PC components, software and other computer specifications.

PC Pitstop solves both of these problems. Since we are constantly gathering PC data in real time, our information is the most current, and in many cases, data you simply can’t get from any other source. We can produce updates to any report on a monthly basis. Plus, the data is extremely accurate, because we query Windows directly for information about each PC. If Windows knows an answer, we will, too.

For example, a typical phone survey about removable storage devices may collect 600 data points. The report may take six months to a year to produce, and result in about a 95 percent confidence factor. Updates may take an additional six months to a year. In June 2003 alone, PC Pitstop collected data on more than 100,000 computers, and we can produce a detailed report on removable storage, as well as updates, every month–not just every year. In addition, PC Pitstop measures the installed base of the components we examine. As such, our data is reflective of the PC population, and we have a 99.9 percent degree of confidence in our data.

Best of all, the accuracy of our research improves with time because of the law of large numbers. As we collect data from more and more PCs on a monthly basis, the statistical accuracy improves geometrically: The number of users and computers in our database is growing–fast. As a result, each month’s data sets will be deeper and more accurate than the previous month’s.

–Rob Cheng, CEO PC Pitstop LLC

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