The following is based on the Microsoft Windows XP Family as in my daily hands on experience, it is still the most commonly used Operating System in the common workplace today.

Overview

The most common computer question I get asked is, “Help, Something weird has happened to my computer, now all my programs run slowly and its driving me crazy! Do I need to buy a new PC?”

Nine times out of ten the answer is no, you have simply fallen prey to what millions of people out there do, spyware and or Virus contamination due to poor security and maintenance habits. It happens to everyone somewhere, sometime.

Let me be clear in telling you the cure to being plagued by spyware and viruses is prevention.

The following few tips will help you Prevent and Hold off Spyway and Viruses. I am intentionally not going into specifics, this is just to help you be safe and if you are currently harboring spyware or a virus (which you can be without knowing it), how to rid your PC of them.

Lets get to it

Always run Windows Firewall – If you don’t know where this is, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Network Connections. Right click your active internet connection and go to Properties > Advanced > Settings. Turn Windows Firewall on.

Always Run Anti-Virus Software – On Windows you simply have to, I always discourage people from using Norton Antivirus and Mcafee, not because they are bad, but because they are system hogs and so often end up bogging systems down. I use AVG, they have a free version that you may download here. If you are willing to pay, the best current antivirus software is NOD32, It’s relatively inexpensive and has a 100% effective rating from the Virus Bulletin.

Run Spybot – Search & Destroy – From time to time you will need to sweep your system for spyware and to this day Spybot – Search & Destroy has been the most effective tool for me for this, you will be amazed at what has crept into your system over time. Spyware is any program that hides on your system with the intent of collecting marketing information about you and your surfing habits, and/or displaying pop-ads on your screen. Spyware is currently the most annoying problem on the Internet, and in my experience, the single most common cause of unreliability and slowdowns on Windows machines. Install Spybot, update it, run a full scan and fix the found issues.

Conclusion

Hopefully you have noticed a change after following some of my guidelines. Regarding spyware, read up on browser hijackers at SpywareInfo.com. You may need to use a dedicated tool. Start with Hijack This to figure out the name of the infection. Common hijackers include Cool Web Search and 180 search Assistant. For a list of all the known Browser Hijacking programs and removal tools visit Sysinfo.org. Searching Google can also be useful in finding removal help. Please remember, prevention is the key to saving yourself alot of trouble, stay away from “shady” websites and emails, and always, use Firefox to avoid hijacking.

Comments & Suggestions are welcome.
And as always, drink coffee.

About the author

Joel Barnard, Graphic Designer currently employed by Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke Architects in Riverside California. Follow me on flickr or linkedin. I HATE facebook.

    3 Comments. Leave your Comment right now:

    1. by Chloe

      Thank you this helps ALOT !

    2. by Macologist

      NOD32, double true! I have used it for 3 year on my windows machine… it seems like the worse mcafee and norton get, the better nod32 gets.

    3. by joel

      yeah, i seriously don’t even know how those programs stay so big, it must be because of bundle agreements with companies like Dell and HP that keep them so “Main Stream”.

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