I have been working on computers for over 25 years, the last 15 in an “IT” department. Over the last few years I have found the 3 tools listed in this post quite valuable. The first two deal with protecting your system and fixing your system should it get infected with a virus and/or Malware. The third tool, I have found quite useful in speeding your system up. All these tools are Free and can be used safely.
If you currently do not have a good security suite installed on your system I strongly urge you to invest in one. If you are on Broadband your ISP should provide you with one. I'm not going to recommend one here because it is a bit like the old which is better Ford or Chevy. Just make sure it stays updated.
The first tool I will talk about is Spybot Search & Destroy. You can get it at:http://www.safer-networking.org/en/home/index.html. When I have a system that I believe has been infected the first thing I will do is install spybot. They have an excellent tutorial The home of Spybot-S&D! on their web site that shows you how to install it, and use it's features. There is also a forum to post questions. The big thing is to make sure all of Spybot files are the latest and up to-date. Then run the scan. Depending on the speed of your system this could take a quite awhile, so you may want to start it and then go do something else.
Once the scan has completed, a list of virus', Malware, Spyware, etc will appear. Tell Spybot to fix the system. It may come back and tell you it can't but asks you to run it on the next reboot. What it is telling you is that what ever has infected your system is in protected memory and it can't remove it. It will run another scan prior to windows fully booting up and then it will clean your system. So tell it yes do it.
Spybot has a feature called Teatimer, depending on your system I would be cautious installing this. This will reside in memory and if your system is already slow then it could slow thing up even more. As you are going through the installation wizard you can unchecked the option to install Tea timer.
The next tool is called ComboFix, you can get it at: Bleeping Computer Downloads: ComboFix Download. This tool also removes Malware but it does it from the command line. If the virus or malware has made a modification to your windows settings combofix will attempt to help you correct this. It has a tutorial as well A guide and tutorial on using ComboFix plus a forum that can help you analyze your report and advise you for anything further.
One of the biggest complaints I hear is that “My computer is so slow”. What happens is over time your hard drive accumulates what are called temp files both from the Internet and also just applications you may run on the PC. In addition when on the Internet you pick up what is called cookies. Some cookies only have a life while you are on that site and others will be active for a while. But once they expire they still remain on you computer which only tends to clog up the works. These are files the computer has to go through when it is looking for something on the hard drive. Another file that get clogged with needless or out dated entries is the Registry data file. This file gives Windows information about applications, updates, preference's etc.
The Third and last tool helps you correct this. It is called Ccleaner and you can get a copy at: CCleaner - Optimization and Cleaning - Free Download NOTE: when you click on the download button and the download page appears scroll down a little and you will see the free version download.
As you can see in the screen shot, just like Spybot, the screen is divided into a left and a right columns. The left contains buttons to let you access the different features. This first screen shot is of the Hard drive cleaning feature. As you can see you can control what it cleans and turn the option on and off as needed. It also has a feature called smart cookies which will keep cookies needed to login to sites like Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
The next feature is the Registry cleaning. CCleaner is not as aggressive as some programs in the area but it does do a pretty good job. One caviate is that you will need to run the cleaner multiple times. It doesn't seem to get all the garbage on the first pass or maybe even the second pass if the system has a lot of trash on it. Just keep running it until it show nothing after a scan. Also when you tell it to fix the problems it will ask you if you want to create a back up (good Idea) and it will create it in your documents folder. This way if something should go wrong you can restore it back.
The third feature that I think is really neat is the ability to turn on / off what is loaded on start up. The more you load when you boot the computer the more memory it will use. The more memory you use the slower your computer will run unless you have a lot of memory. Do not confuse memory with hard drive space they are measured in the same measurements.
As usual with many things there is more then one way to do something and this is just one way. I hope this helps.
If you have questions about these tools, post a new thread in the PC Talk Forum.
Edited by KennyP, September 27, 2011 - 07:36 AM.