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Malware and viruses


3.1. These notes on malware are not intended to provide detailed advice on computer security. They are included because to troubleshoot and resolve computer problems it is essential to know that the computer you are working on is most likely free of malware.

3.2. An anti-virus programme should be installed on your computer. You should only install one as two will commonly conflict. If you are replacing existing anti-virus software remove the exising installation before installing the replacement. Failure to do this can result in a damaged installation of the replacement.

3.3. A wide range of paid and freeware anti-virus products exists in shops and online. My preference is for a standalone product. I do not favour composite security products. Microsoft Security Essentials is installed on my Windows 7 desktop computer, AVG Free on my Windows 7 laptop, and Windows Defender on my Windows 8 desktop. A number of other alternative acceptable freeware products are available to home computer users online.

I do not recommend Norton and McAfee as I consider them to be poor choices. Both can cause conflicts with other software and interfere with the way Windows is designed to function.

3.4. When installing software, users need to be wary of add-ons with security and other products. Registry cleaners and optimisers are commonly included and using these often give negligible benefits and have the potential to create difficult to resolve errors. They can undermine rather than enhance system performance.

3.5. On my computers I deploy the freeware version of Malwarebytes in support of the installed anti-virus. Download and install Malwarebytes (freeware version for home users only -not the Trial version). When installing watch the checked boxes as you need to uncheck a box accepting the trial version, update definitions and run in normal mode.

3.6. I use the Windows Firewall.

3.7. If you suspect the presence of malware I recommend that you run Disk CleanUp or cCleaner to remove temporary files as this will reduce scanning times by security software. Update definitions and run Malwarebyes after disabling other security software. Run Malwarebytes in preference to the installed anti-virus software as if anything is there to be found it will have evaded the resident protection provided by the anti-virus software. If malware is detected check for parasitic software.

3.8. Parasitic software, when present, can result in significantly lower system performance, especially when browsing the internet. ADWCleaner is an effective tool to remove parasites. Download and run ADWCleaner and remove all that it finds.

You may choose to take the precaution of creating a system restore point before running ADWCleaner, to guard against unforeseen consequences. Select Start, Control Panel, System, System Protection, and click the Create button.