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Spyware, Adware, and Virus Infections - What do you do?

AustinPCTech technicians are experts in removing spyware, adware, and virus infections from your computer.  We can remove these infections from your computer and then make sure you are properly protected from future infections.  Slow performance, constant pop-up ads, or complete inability to use your computer can be very frustrating and there really is no need.  Let us show you the right way to keep your computer safe.  Visit our Removal Services page to learn about how.

Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus, Trend Micro PC-Cillin, Stop-Sign, Avast, AVG - They are not all the same.  Which one is right for you?

Spyware, adware, and virus infections have rapidly grown over recent years, leaving many computer users with slow running systems, annoying pop-up ads, stolen private information and surfing habits, and other undesirable experiences.  Simply running just any antivirus software doesn't cut it anymore.  One antivirus program can do a better job than another.  Some just scan for viruses while others scan viruses, spyware, and other malware.  Each company maintains their own individual database of infections to scan for and the research their database is based on can vary widely.  Scanning your computer with McAfee Antivirus can produce completely different results than scanning your computer with another competitor such as Norton Antivirus.  In other words, one companies program can determine your computer is clean of infections while another can detect numerous infections that exist.  So how do you know what program you should run on your computer?  The answer continues to vary over time.  Time was when Norton Antivirus was recognized and respected as the best on the market.  That's not really true anymore.  Norton, McAfee, and other companies often have their software pre-installed on your computer.  Some may take the luck of the draw in what comes with their computer and just stick with it and fail to keep it updated.  That could be a dangerous decision.

Programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy for years have done some of the best jobs in detecting infections other than viruses.  Spybot Search & Destroy has always offered their software for free (although feel free to donate to their cause) while Ad-aware comes in both a free and licensed version.  Their free version is honestly very adequate.  Unfortunately these programs do not detect most viruses.  So what's a person to do?

You can also download free antivirus software such as AVG and Avast Antivirus but do they really protect you well?  While these programs may suit some users they do not most the way they need.  Free is always attractive but if you don't get the protection you need, what's a person to do?

Hundreds of spyware and adware programs have hit the market over the past couple years, each with great promises of detecting and removing all of the malware on your machine.  Some of these programs are honestly and well written programs but they fail to be backed up by constant research and updated detection databases which is critical to you.  Antivirus, spyware, and adware detection programs are only as good as their updates and if they don't have a full-time staff of experts doing research, their program is nothing but junk.  A common growing problem today is scam and junk programs will bait you for your money.  Programs such as Spy Axe, Spy Trooper, and Spy Falcon only infect your machine with their own adware.  Adware that constantly nag you to death to purchase their software.  You might find a pop-up ad or notice in the system tray indicating spyware has been detected on your computer.  And you need to pay them $39.95 to purchase their software to remove them.  Please do not waste your money!

So what's a person to do?

You can keep running the antivirus software that you have and augment your protection with spyware and Adware detections programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy.  The only problem is that unlike your antivirus program which is always running giving you full-time protection, these programs only scan, detect, and remove when you manually run them so they really are not protecting you.  They are merely useful cleaning tools.

Currently we recommend that your run Panda Antivirus and Firewall or one of their other products to protect your computer and it's data.  As virus, spyware, and adware experts, we can tell you that currently Panda does the most thorough job in detecting computer infections.  Next year it may be Norton again, or even McAfee but for now Panda is #1.

Do you need to consider anything before installing Panda on your computer?

Absolutely!  Whether it be Norton, McAfee, Panda, or some other antivirus program, additional resources have had to be given to make these programs run well on your machine.  They have to work harder today to protect you than in years past.  As a result, these programs have become memory hogs and adding more memory (RAM) is a  necessity.  We recommend having at least 512mb in your computer.  Otherwise you may have the best antivirus, spyware, and adware program on the market today installed on your computer but you will find that your computer runs at a snail's pace.  IMPORTANT - Be sure and first uninstall any other antivirus software you may have installed before installing Panda.  You cannot and should not run more than one antivirus program at a time.

What can you do to avoid spyware, adware, and virus infections in your computer?

Some people will tell you that you need to run antivirus software to keep avoid infecting your computer.  Absolutely that is true.  But really it begins with your own computer use habits.  Most all infections today are transmitted through the Internet although floppy disk, cd's, etc.. can introduce these infections as well.  Yes, Panda Antivirus's job is to keep the door closed on infections and intruders.  But improving your habits while on the net will go a long way in preventing these infections from even knocking on your computers door to begin with.  You might want to keep in mind the following useful tips:

  • Most importantly, keep your computer up to date through Windows Update.  And most Windows XP users should install Service Pack 2 which is also available on Windows Update.
  • Use a software firewall on your computer to keep the doors on your network connection.  A hardware firewall such as router may keep someone out of your machine but they do nothing to keep viruses, spyware, and adware, from connecting to computers outside your machine.  Windows XP includes a firewall program and it is automatically enabled once you install XP Service Pack 2.  Windows 98, ME, 2000, and others should consider installing firewall software for protection.
  • Be careful where you click.  Just because you can doesn't mean that you should.  We all love to surf but you should know the signs of a dangerous site.  Generic looking sites with links to search from Apples to Zebras can be direct links to spyware and adware.
  • Don't click on pop-up ads.  Period!  Some infections are introduced into your computer the moment that you click.  When you close these pop-up ads there is only one correct choice, the top right corner X.  Common tactics to infect you can include a bogus X just below the Windows X.  You may also find a Close button which can also infect your machine.  And there is nothing really wrong with advertising on the net, but these annoying pop-up tactics to make a sale are only prolonged by your clicking on them.
  • Don't click on anything in spam, especially attachments.  Just delete it.  If you are having a problem with spam you should consider using CloudMark to regain your inbox.
  • Don't download free screensavers, games, and other software you don't already know to be free of infections.  If you don't know, do a little research such as a Google search on the download.  Are people saying what a great game it is or are they saying how do you get rid of this blasted spyware?
  • Don't use file sharing programs like Kazaa, Limewire, and others.  These programs do nothing but fill your computer up with junk and leave doors wide open into your computer for others to take advantage.
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