Clean Up on the Window Aisle! Part One

The first step in cleaning any Windows computer is getting rid of any viruses or malware that could be sapping your system resources.

What is a virus? A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer. The term “computer virus” is sometimes used as a catch-all phrase to include all types of malware. Viruses are sometimes confused with worms and Trojan horses, which are technically different. A worm can exploit security vulnerabilities to spread itself automatically to other computers through networks, while a Trojan horse is a program that appears harmless but hides malicious functions. Worms and Trojan horses, like viruses, may harm a computer system’s data or performance.

You may be infected and not even realize it. The only way to really find out is to have good detection programs. Some popular anti-virus programs are Norton, McAfee, AVG, and Avast. The first two of those are paid programs, you have to subscribe to their service to receive updates.

Norton products used to be the top choice for virus detection and removal. However, the last 15 years has seen Norton become bloated. It now consumes system resources at an alarming rate. It also is known to shut down access to parts of your system if you do not renew your subscription. I will not recommend it.

McAfee is a little better, but with freeware alternatives just as good or better I do not advise purchase of this program.

Avast is a freeware program with an upgraded paid version available. The freeware version does well enough, but it seems to bog down your computer even when it’s not running.

AVG used to be my number one choice. With the recent version they have expanded the amount of resources the program uses, and it slows older systems down. I cannot recommend this program at this time.

My selection for anti-virus is something I never thought I’d be saying. Programs from Microsoft have never inspired much confidence, but Microsoft Security Essentials is a pleasant surprise! It is a comprehensive, resource light program that has really impressed me. It’s free for consumer use, updates every day and runs once a week automatically (you can set the time and day). It runs in the background and informs you if a file you’re about to open is infected and offers to remove it for you. It is available for download at the Microsoft website.

For malware the gold standard is MalwareBytes. You can download this essential program at are both free and paid versions. The free version will do just fine. The quick scan is more than adequate to find the malware on your computer.

If you are not comfortable doing any of the above, please contact a consultant. Your computer and sanity are worth it.

All opinions expressed about particular programs are my own and are not necessarily the opinion of or its management.

Next week: Part Two. Deeper cleaning and speeding up your computer.

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