Ok everybody listen up! As the owner of a computer store and service center I see many computers that come in with lots of different problems. Simple things like moving the computer and accidentally hitting the power switch on the back of the power supply into the off position (if it has a switch, not all do) to completely cooked systems that the only thing left to salvage is the case.
For the last 2 years I have seen a huge increase in the amount of computers that come in that have so much adware and spyware on them that the computer will not even get as far as the welcome screen. This is when most people give up and bring their computers to their technician, and its almost completely avoidable or fixable in the early stages. Simple maintenance that once was not needed. (Remember the days before viruses? There gone forever no matter what fantasy world your internet service provider might want to live in.) I spend countless hours working on getting rid of these problems. Much of this time is spent trying to get Windows back in working order without a complete reload of the operating system and other programs as well as data backup. I'm not complaining, I'm just telling it like it is so you, the reader, can understand that your not the only person having these troubles with your computer and you may be able to get your computer back in working order.
There are so many programs out there to help you find and eliminate these problem programs lurking in your computer. I have found several that can help the "Home User" that are free or very low cost.
First lets look at antivirus programs.
Don't let anyone tell you you don't need antivirus software in one form or another. I don't care how basic it is, USE SOMETHING! You don't have to buy expensive antivirus programs to have at least some level of protection. For many the Free for home users antivirus programs are a real budget saver and work well although their features like scheduling and tech support are limited. If you need a helping hand with your software problems or want to have complete control over your scheduled scans, Buy the full versions. AVG, Panda, and Avast all offer some free versions of their software so there's no excuse not to have antivirus protection. Also, PLEASE do not install more than one antivirus program on your computer at a time! They will fight each other and your computer will no longer function correctly (if at all!).
These days one antivirus software is just not enough so I do recommend that you run an occasional scan of your computer with a separate antivirus program online. These antivirus programs scan your computer remotely and only a small amount of information gets downloaded to your computer so it will be able to scan your drive/s. I like the scans at Trend Micro. The easy way to get there is to type www.antivirus.com into your browser and then click on the HOME section then click on the Housecall button. Follow the prompts and run a full scan. Delete anything found in their scan.
Now lets talk about "AD"ware and "SPY"ware
There are lots of programs out there today that add additional software to your computer without you knowing it. Keep in mind that not all of the programs that have the features listed below are bad, but many of them are bad.
Clock synchronizing programs
Fun little games
Cartoon characters that walk around on your computer screen
Programs that fill in forms for you
File sharing P2P programs for downloading music, movies, or software for free.
When installing these types of programs please read the E.U.L.A. (End User License Agreement) You know? the part that everyone just clicks YES on so the software will finish loading. You don't have to read every last word. Just be sure to at least skim through it and make sure your not signing your computers life away by giving permission to the creators of the software to feed you advertisements or put other software on your computer without asking you that will then feed ads to you. Remember the old shampoo commercial that talked about telling two friends and so on and so on and so on? You do the math! Soon your computer is full of software feeding you popups and tracking your every move on the net. After a period of time the information being exchanged with your computer and all these other computers on the net you might as well just unplug the internet from your computer. That's the only way your computer will run after getting all this junk on it.
Helpful removal tools
Okay so you didn't know and now you have popup ads galore and your pc has slowed to a crawl. Remember that not all programs that claim to get rid of adware and spyware will get rid of your problems. Some adware give popups for programs that remove some problems but add their own popups and other related problems.
Here's a list of some of the programs that are going to help you get rid of the junk that's now on your computer. There are lots out there that really do work but I've used these before and know they help.
For the more advanced users
Heres a few other malicious software terms you may hear about...
Have you heard the term MALWARE? Malware is right in the same area as all the rest of the adwares or spywares. These programs are designed to make your computer not work. Most of the programs listed above will also recognize most of these threats.
These programs have a tendency to change your internet home page or redirect you to a page you had not intended to go. With these programs, if you've got one, you probably have several waiting to take its place. The Superantispyware program can really help with these but most of the above programs will work to some degree.
For those who live with us in the Pacific Northwest these are not people who cut keys off your keyboard... These programs keep track of everything you type and send that information to the person in control of that program. It is primarily used for attempting to get credit card, and bank account numbers and should be removed by most antivirus or adware/spyware removal tools.
This is a malicious software that goes through your computer destroying little bits of your programs untill they no longer work correctly.
Last on this list is the Trojan. The Trojan is really not any of the above listed although its considered a virus. A Trojan allows its user to access your computer from a remote location. Its used to see whats on your computer. Some people use Trojans to wreak havoc on your computer and others use it to make changes to or add malicious software to it. Many times there's just another computer at the other end that's programmed to respond to the Trojans signal and respond by doing whatever the computers programmer wanted it to do to you.
Good Luck and I hope this will help those who read it...