Free Software - (Mostly for Windows PCs)

Computer Security and Protection
Be very careful with USB memory sticks brought home from shared computers at school and college. There is a very high risk of them picking up viruses. Just plugging in an infected USB stick can immediately transfer a virus to a PC (I know because I've done it) and some viruses are nearly impossible to remove completely. It's not worth the risk when you consider the ultimate remedy might be a total hard drive wipe and you might have to do a complete re-install of Windows, programs, everything. You stand to lose photos, documents, projects, etc. What's worse is that, if you can recover your work, it might still be infected to do it all again.

You might even decide to buy a new computer and start from scratch. All this because little Johnny brought a game home from school on his USB stick. Eskia Computers have clever ways to repair a PC if it gets this bad.

Here is the Gospel Truth: Antivirus, Anti-malware and Firewall software are absolutely essential - for any computer: on a network, on the internet or where files can be brought in. An unprotected computer connected to the Internet WILL become infected sooner or later and possibly on the first day. Of course, if your office machine is never on a network and used only for a particular purpose (such as controlling a machine), there is a PC performance advantage in not using any protection software but if there is the chance of files being brought in, you do need at least an up to date anti-virus.

Freebies are Okay
There are a lot of reputable free protection programs around, if you don't mind separate programs for each function. The fully integrated ones are always to pay for. These freebies are easy to install but, after downloading, uninstall any old ones before installing the new one. Your new firewall will disable the built-in Windows firewall and that is normal. Always keep security software up to date as in 'check for updates' or set the schedule to update at a particular time each week. Also schedule the antivirus to scan perhaps once a week. Do a full in-depth scan every so often to make sure.

Some nice security freebies. These are 'loss-leaders' to get you to buy the 'full' version, so they will probably nag you from time to time to 'Upgrade' to the paid-for version. Sometimes firewalls and anti-viruses from different companies don't happily co-exist and you might need to try a different combination.



Spyware and Malware Detection and Removal
(Stinger does this too, see Anti-Virus above)

So, It's Infected - What Can I do?
Plan A.
Download, install, update and run Malwarebytes, if you can. The virus might prevent it. Toe-rag virus writers are scared of Malwarebytes and will try to nobble it or stop you from downloading, installing, updating or running it. That means it is serious. If it crashes during the scan, you might get a glimpse of a filename that caused it for a moment. I once had a glimpse of a font file when my work PC was infected. It turned out to be about 30MB, which was far larger than any other font file. It might have come in on a document. Deleting it and running anti-virus appeared to cure the problem. An alternative is McAfee Tools Stinger for an Emergency Antivirus Check. It does not install anything on the computer, which gives you an edge if it usually crashes within minutes. It is an effective stand-alone program for emergencies and won't conflict with existing anti-virus programs.

Plan B.
Get someone to download the 'iso' for Kaspersky Rescue Disc. This one is for serious trouble. The antivirus runs directly from the disc without installing anything on the PC. Download the ISO file and burn a CD from it. If you don't know what that means, don't try. Imgburn can write the 'iso' image to a blank CD or DVD, making it bootable. Don't just copy the iso file to a disk - it won't work. Someone might have to adjust the PC's BIOS settings for it to boot from CD rather than the hard drive ('Boot Order').

Restart the computer with the disc in the drive and let Kaspersky try to update its Virus Definitions from the internet first. It runs a scan from outside of the normal operation of the PC and has proved to be effective on a badly-infected PC.

Please Note:
ZoneAlarm firewall gave me serious problems and that is why it is no longer on this page; I decided that 'it sucks'. It would load files into memory and if an editing program I was using went a bit off, those files would disappear into thin air (not nice if they were web pages). Also, I found that Free AVG Antivirus and Comodo Firewall did not happily co-exist and could freeze the PC. I read somewhere that they cured that clash but I've moved on since then. Comodo's (2012) Anti-Virus option became available when I started to de-install it using 'add or remove programs'. If that works for you, update the virus definitions and set it to work. Then you have both a firewall and anti-v for nowt. However, Comodo is well known for 'false positives'.

My recommendation:
Windows Security Essentials (for Anti-V and Anti-Malware) will happily co-exist with Comodo Firewall and both had good reviews in 2013. Avast is getting better reviews than MSE in 2014.

Eskia Computers
Eskia BannerHere's a little plug for my old mates at Eskia Computers in Spring Vale. Head towards the Dumpit site and turn right on to the next lane down after Naylor/Myers' entrance. Go and see them for computer advice and if you need help with PC problems/upgrades/viruses.

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