Leave Windows Behind

Funny how when you work with computers everyone who doesn’t thinks that you’re an expert with regard to all things computer wise. My day to day job does not involve working w/ PCs or Windows. Well, I have a PC I use for my work, but I currently run Ubuntu Linux 10.04 on it. The servers I deal with, w/ a handful of exceptions, run Linux, Solaris or HP-UX. Anyway, I do have a windows PC at home for the kids and my wife. So, I do have to keep it clean of viruses and spyware. My wife’s niece asked me about ridding her computer of spyware. So, I wrote up the following. Maybe it will help someone else, too.

My first anti-virus recommendation is to use Linux or MacOS rather than Windows. If you’re not willing to make that switch, you will continually experience the head ache of viruses, spyware and malware. Often you will also suffer the additional costs of buying anti-all-of-that-stuff software. Furthermore, studies have shown that no one anti-* software can even detect all the bad stuff let alone clean it. Keep that in mind.

01) I generally uninstall all anti-virus, anti-* software as multiple instances of anti-virus like Norton & McAfee don’t play nicely together.

02) Then I install AVG Free antivirus and scan the computer. Once it’s done and has cleaned what it can I uninstall it.

http://free.avg.com/us-en/226285?cmpid=fs_hp_testb_226285

03) Install the free version of Avast! antivirus and scan the computer. Once it’s done and has cleaned what it can I uninstall it.

http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download

04) I use a bootable Linux CD w/ anti-virus software to scan the computer while Windows is not running. Some viruses, trojans, etc cannot be cleaned from Windows while it is running.

http://www.techmixer.com/bitdefender-rescue-cd-with-auto-update-virus-definition-features/

05) If the person has purchased/licensed AV software I then reinstall it and scan the computer again. If not I usually reinstall AVG Free as it typically runs faster than Avast! There are other good free alternatives, too.

06) Then I scan it w/ a bootable Spybot Search-n-Destroy CD.

http://forums.spybot.info/downloads.php?id=14

07) I install Microsoft Defender and run it.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/defender/default.mspx

I also make sure that all Microsoft security updates are installed and that automatic updating is turned on. So, typically people I help w/ this are left running AVG and Microsoft Defender. I’ll leave them w/ a boot able Spybot CD to run occasionally. If they’re up to it I’ll also leave them w/ a bootable Linux CD w/ antivirus software to run periodically as well.

Of course there is more you can do. And even all of the above might not guarantee a clean computer. You can find and use more tools that are similar to the above. But as a last resort, you might have to format the drive and reinstall Windows fresh and clean. I hope you have backups of your files, you do make backups right? I hope you have drivers on CD, DVD or something for all of the hardware in your computer. If not this last resort could be painful indeed.

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