Computer Tips & Advice - Check for Malware

Another important thing you should be doing on a regular basis is scanning your system for malware, viruses, etc. There are a number of good (and free) AntiVirus programs available, so even if you don’t pay for Norton’s or McAfee you can still protect yourself from viruses. However, even with the paid versions of these programs you can still pick-up Adware and Spyware or what we call Malware. These unwanted “pests” usually come bundled with free games, screensavers and other ad-supported software. Removing the source program usually leaves the unwanted malware programs behind, so even after you get rid of the free game or screensaver you are still plagued with pop-ups and ads.

The best way to get rid of these unwanted programs is to uninstall each one, then run a Malware scanning utility to get rid of the remnants. You can just run a Malware scan of your system and let it remove what it finds, but these utilities generally delete the files without removing the program properly. This means there will be pieces of the unwanted software left in the registry, in your startup folders, etc. Over time, this can slow down your computer and cause odd behaviour or even system crashes.

To get into your list of installed programs, there is a quick way to do it. Just press the Windows key on your keyboard (looks like a flag), then press the ‘R’ key while holding down that Windows key (acts like a Shift key). This will open the Run dialog box. You then clear whatever might be there already by pressing Backspace and enter the following:  appwiz.cpl

How to quickly access Installed Programs list
Press Windows key plus R to open Run dialog box

This will open your Installed Programs list showing any software you have installed on your computer or laptop. You go through this list and remove any suspicious or obvious unwanted software. Be care when you are uninstalling some of the malware programs because they will play games with the uninstall questions to trick you into either leaving their software installed, or in some cases actually allowing them to download and install more junk.

Here’s a sample listing of some unwanted programs we have run across during our computer clean-ups recently. If you have anything installed on your computer or laptop that is on this list, you should probably remove it as soon as possible.

  • Optimizer Pro
  • MyPCBackup
  • MapsGalaxy
  • Driver Detective
  • PriceGong
  • RegClean Pro
  • TotalRecipeSearch
  • SupraSavings
  • VO Package
  • MySearchDial
  • uTorrent or Bittorrent

The above list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what malware could be installed, it’s just a small sample. As a general rule, any software from Mindspark should be removed from your system. Also, any software installed with weird spellings tend to be malware as well.

Actual Add/Remove list from client's laptop (page 1) Actual Add/Remove list from client's laptop (page 2) Actual Add/Remove list from client's laptop (page 3)

Click each image above to see an actual Add/Remove Program listing from a client’s HP laptop showing the malware and other unwanted software we marked for removal. As you can see, there was quite a bit of bad stuff on this laptop. If you are unsure of what programs should be removed, but don’t want to spring for the cost of a proper clean-up we offer a special ‘mini-cleanup’ for only $10.00.

You run a special utility to collect a list of what’s running in your startup folders and registry branches, plus it compiles a list of your Installed Programs. You send us this report and we go through it, then send you back a summary of any software that should be removed plus anything in your startup entries that needs to be dealt with (ie. virus infection, etc). You still do the actual removal of the software as per the above instructions, but at least you go into your Add/Remove Programs armed with a list of what should be removed rather than guessing.

Take advantage of our $10 Mini-Cleanup Service
 

Once you have uninstalled all the malware you can find, it’s time to run an AntiMalware scan of your system. There are a number of programs out there claiming to be the best, but in our opinion two of them stand out in the crowd. The first one we would recommend using is Malwarebytes, it does the best job of cleaning systems. After that, SuperAntiSpyware does a decent job too. It doesn’t hurt to use both programs, but generally using one or the other is enough to keep your system fairly clean.

Download Malwarebytes Free Version

Download SuperAntiSpyware Free Version

How to disable Free Trial when installing Malwarebytes

A word of caution, be careful when you install or update Malwarebytes because they turn on the trial version by default. There is a dialog box at the end of the install that asks if you want to enable the free trial and also run the program. Make sure you uncheck the box for the free trial because for most people, the free version is more than sufficient for their needs.

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