|Source: Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, possessed by some dark force
One of the neat features of Linux machines, Macs, and iOS devices is the lack of spyware/malware. Sure, there are times when those evil critters scurry under the noses of IT admins, but for the most part, you don’t end up with the black screen that signals your computer has been possessed.
“Please help…I have a computer that is infected. The browser (Internet Explorer) keeps going tohomepagepark.com as the home page,” wrote one desperate techonology user. “I’m sure there is a free spyware removal tool I can use, but after searching I found that some of the ones that come up are actually rogue spyware programs themselves – like Antispyware 2012.” Fortunately, the tools available for installation on personal devices have gotten better.
Here is a list of my favorite tools that I share at least once a month with colleagues wondering, “What is out there for free that I can share with students, parents, and staff to load on their personal computers?”
STEP 1 – Turn Off System Restore
First, right-click on your “MY COMPUTER” on your desktop (or look under START PROGRAMS).
Step 2 – Install AntiVirus and Anti-Malware Tools
- AntiSpyware Tools:
- Malware Bytes – This program is fantastic anti-spyware tool that finds and eliminates spyware on your computer. Get it online at http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
- Emisoft Anti-Malware for – http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/free/
- Spybot Search and Destroy – http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
- AntiVirus Tools:While there are many antivirus tools, there is only one that is worth installing on thousands of computers.
- AVG AntiVirus Free – This free version is for personal home use, but you can also install the free version for a 30-day trial. Get it online at http://free.avg.com/
- Avast AntiVirus – avast! antivirus Home Edition is available free of charge for non-commercial home use ONLY. Get it online at http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html
The damage caused left by viruses and spyware to your Windows Registry can be catastrophic. To fix those problems, you need to take advantage of two tools that will help you 1) Uninstall undesirable programs completely and 2) Clean up your Windows registry.
- Revo Uninstaller – Some times, you need a program that will completely uninstall a program, including cleaning up your Windows registry. This program accomplishes that and ensures complete removal of a program. Get the portable version online at http://www.revouninstaller.com/
- CCleaner – This invaluable tool actually cleans up your computer’s registry, and run periodically, keeps your computer running in tip-top shape. Get the portable version online at http://www.ccleaner.com/download/builds
And, since in the worst case scenario, it’s not a bad idea to make regular backups of your work. Before restoring your work to your freshly cleaned computer, make sure to clean it!
As a final preventative step, install these programs to prevent a “re-infestation:”
- SpywareBlaster – This program innoculates your computer against spyware. Get it online athttp://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html
- SpywareGuard – From the web site: SpywareGuard provides a real-time protection solution against spyware that is a great addition to //SpywareBlaster//‘s protection method. Get it online at http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareguard.html
and, if you’re really worried about reinfestation, install this last one:
- Hitman Pro – This tool combines Ad-Aware SE, SpyBot Search & Destroy, Spy Sweeper, Spyware Doctor, CWShredder, Spyware Blaster, NOD32, Sysclean package to get the job done. Most of the included programs are freeware. Get it online at http://tinyurl.com/3bk4lv
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