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Computer Care: Keep your PC protected from bad bugs

POSTED: March 9, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Too many computers that I’ve worked on recently have had insufficient protection. Some had anti-virus apps or Internet security suites installed, but they were not properly configured. Some were so outdated they were completely ineffective.

Your system needs a good defense. This means programs that will have your back and warn you when rogue programs or websites are attempting to infiltrate your computer.

If you have an anti-virus alone, then I suggest you supplement it with a utility like Malwarebytes, Advanced System Care, SuperAntispyware or Malware Fighter. You can have as many of those installed on your system as you like but only one anti-virus app. In that case, more is not better.

If your system has an Internet Security Suite, you’re all set. Many times, though, it will tell you that there is a conflict with a utility already on your system and ask you to remove it.

Whatever you use, be sure you always have the latest version and that it updates its virus and malware definitions regularly, usually daily.

The app needs to be configured past the default settings. Make sure it scans what you want it to, not just your “C” drive. If you have a partition or use external drives regularly, have them scan them as well.

Be sure to set up a schedule in the settings area. If you are online every day, you should have your system scanned daily. If you don’t, it’s not a matter of if you will get an infection but when.

There are plenty of free products to download. Avast, Avira, AVG, Panda and others all have free and paid versions. The latter includes support. Vipre is also a good choice and although it lacks a free version, it does offer a free trial, as do most.

In most malware apps, there are no schedulers on the freebies, one reason alone to get the paid version.

While you are downloading, be careful as I mentioned in previous columns. You may not get a malware infection from a reputable website, but you can still get bloatware or junkware, call it what you will. If you don’t scrutinize each box that is checked, you may end up with add-ons you didn’t ask for like a screensaver, pop-up, toolbar or some other freebie that will slow down your system.

Do take note to the many offers of security for your smartphone, though, while you are downloading. Most are free. The next wave of infections will not be on your computer but on your phone, so get ready. All of the major players have these to offer.

Even with the best protection, it is still possible to get an infection on your computer. The reprobate-geek on your block may have just written a virus and sent it to the Web to be spread around. Before Avast, Norton, McAfee and the rest of them get a chance write a defense against the infection, you can get it. Sometimes you simply fall through the cracks of the Internet.

All you can do is be as best prepared as possible and when that fails, get rid of the infection after the fact. Although it is best to be proactive, sometimes you just have to play the cards you were dealt.

Windows has built-in tools like System Restore and Safe Mode that will let you fix issues with the operating system. System Restore is like a time machine. It allows you to set the system to run as it did in the past, when it functioned properly.

Safe Mode loads only the essential components of the operating system, allowing you to probe and repair without a bunch of superfluous apps running in the background.

The Internet itself is my favorite tool. When I don’t know how to fix something, I Google it. There are many articles, forums and YouTube videos to help with just about anything. Someone, somewhere, has had the same issue that you are experiencing and there is assistance on the Internet concerning it.

The only time I suggest you don’t try to fix your computer yourself is when you get a “Fatal Error.” They manifest themselves as “Blue Screens Of Death.” When you see a blue screen with “Fatal Error” on it that is accompanied by a STOP code, a series of numbers, it’s time to throw in the towel. Often, the more you mess with it, the worse it gets. So just walk away from this one.

This is the worse-case scenario, when your head starts pounding and your eyes begin to bleed. This is when you call someone and pay them to fix the computer. Sometimes it’s just worth it.

You wouldn’t try to fix a crown in your mouth or the transmission in your car. You call a professional. With a BSOD, that’s what you need to do.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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