I have created this FAQ drawing text from other FAQ's found on Tek-Tips, credits at the end, and my own experiences. I realise that I am duplicating information that can be found elsewhere, however it does not seem to be in a single location.
If you are experiencing problems now then follow the Recomended Procedure below. Otherwise have a read and follow the general advice given.
Special Note for XP users: If any of the scans below find problems then you should disable System Restore before fixing them. Right-click My Computer, Properties, System Restore, and uncheck the box to have System Restore active on all drives. When you have finished the steps below, re-enable System Restore.
Special Note for all: You want to run the antivirus, spyware, adware, and other utilities without IE active, and without any Peer-2-Peer application active, such as eDonkey, Kazaa or eMule. Your success with any of the tools below approach 100% if no internet application is currently active.
People should not rely on a single Anti-Virus solution, while most of the applications that are available work very well. It is too much to expect them to find everything. Also make sure that you have downloaded the latest Virus Definitions, some companies release updates daily, some weekly. It normally takes seconds to check so I would recommend doing it daily.
It is worth running two of these on-line virus checkers once a month, and definatly if you are experiencing problems which may be attributed to a virus.
I personally prefer the Trend Micro and Panda checkers, however they all work well.
Also a couple a nasty Worms that have been hitting people hard over the last couple of months are the MSBlast and Sasser Worms.
If you get a shutdown message such as the one below, then you almost certainly have one of the formentioned worms.
If you get that shutdown message appear, click on start > then run > type "shutdown -a" (without the quotes) and click OK. This should stop the shutdown, you should then visit the following two sites and follow the instructions given.
At least once a week you should run at least one from each section of these checkers (I would recommend running 2 from each section), they will scan your system for known Spyware and Adware. These little nasties can use up lots of valuble resources and can transmit your surfing habits/personal data back to the developers.
Note: Some applications, such as Kazaa, will not function unless the adware that is included is present on the computer. Therefore check what you are deleting before you do it.
So many people do not apply the latest updates from Microsoft, they had a lot of bad press back in the WinME/2000 days of being unreliable and MS having to reissue updates. However the WinXP updates have been alot better, I can only remember a handful of updates that had issues.
A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that creates a protective barrier between your computer and potentially harmful content on the Internet. It helps guard your computer against hackers and many computer viruses and worms.
XP has a basic firewall which is better that nothing and works quite well, it is not as configurable as those listed below. That being said you should enable it if you are not going to use a third-party one.
If you are still having problems then ask a question on either the Virus and Spyware forum Forum760 or Windows XP forum Forum779, depending on what YOU think the problem might be.
When posting questions bear the suggestions made in FAQ222-2244 in mind, make sure you let people know what your problem is, including any error messages, what you have done to fix it so far, what you do if anything to replicate the problem. Finally make sure you post back to let people know if their information was helpful and award them a star.
Smah for list of AntiVirus On-line scanners THoey for list of Spyware scanners and Hijack This FAQ's jrbarnett for additional Spyware scanners bcastner for being so helpful and for giving me lots of pointers. FAQ608-4650 Linney for System Restore advice
Following the instructions above regularly will only take a small amount of time and should allow a reasonably trouble free time. However the best protection against Viruses and Spyware is personal awarness. If you are not sure about something don't open it or install it.
If you believe there are any errors or omissions then please let me know by clicking on the "send a comment to gpalmer711 about this FAQ"