Better Safe than Sorry – Keeping your System Safe and Secure!

SpannerOver the past few weeks I have developed a reputation for something which I did not intend – the ability to sort out and speed up people’s laptops.

A while ago a youngster came to me and asked for help. He had heard from his sister that I helped someone to speed up his laptop and that I could get rid of malware, viruses and spyware that infested people’s machines.

Now I am no computer wizard, no MOUSE expert, but having come through Windows 3.1 and many experiences of having to reinstall my own operating systems, I guess I learnt quite a bit. So, I tried and succeeded and since then 3 more youngsters came for help.

And, in every instance I found laptops running slowly, infected with you know what. In one case, I found 527 viruses, spyware and malware.

In all cases, I managed to clean and speed up their laptops. So, what procedure and process did I follow. This is my, albeit not expert approach.

The process:

1. First of all, I used a number of cleaners to clean the system of junk & temporary files. I like to use CC Cleaner. CCleaner in my opinion is the number one-tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It also protects your privacy online and makes your computer more secure and faster. It is easy to use and a small download.

I also use Revo uninstaller to uninstall programs that has not been used in a while. This is the preferred uninstall tool as it can also clean all traces left behind by programs. Often when installing a program, other programs are installed unless you uncheck these options in a dialog box, especially some browser bars.

I also like to use Wise Registry cleaner as a 3rd option.

Where possible I always do a System Restore and Registry backup where possible before I start, just in case something go wrong.

2. Secondly, I make sure that they have an Anti-Virus program installed that is updated to the latest update patch. Having tried many programs I have settled on Microsoft Security Essentials . I have found this program useful and making very little impact on system resources. And, best of all it’s also free.

I then do a full scan and delete what is found.

Tip – Often a virus program will prevent you from updating the Microsoft program. That’s normally a good indicator that the system is infected. Microsoft also has other program relevant to the task.

I would also do a system scan in safe mode just to be sure. (To go into safe mode. Restart your machine, press the delete button until the various options is offered to you. Choose safe mode and restart the machine.)

3. I also install Threatfire . Threatfire is dramatically different to traditional antivirus software. Normal antivirus products usually need to have first identified and seen a threat before they can provide adequate protection against it. The protection is then provided via a signature or fingerprint update, which must first be written by an antivirus researcher. This creates a large window of time where threats are undetected and can therefore infect your PC even when you have antivirus software installed.

Threatfire detects malicious behavior, such as capturing your keystrokes or stealing your data, instead of only looking for known threats like normal antivirus software. By implementing sophisticated real-time behavioral analysis Threatfire is able to stop never- before-seen threats solely by detecting their malicious activity.

It offers an additional layer of protection against all types of internet threats – both known and unknown – spyware, adware, keyloggers, viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits, buffer overflows, and other malware. ThreatFire uses its unparalleled protection to hunt down and paralyze those threats that are either too new or too clever to be recognized by traditional “signature-based” antivirus software.

Tip – You may have to temporary disable your anti-virus program before installing this program. Normally 2 anti-virus programs should not be used on one machine, but I have never found Microsoft Security Essentials and Threatfire to clash or use too much system resources and both are updated daily.

4. I also install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free  as well as SUPERAntispyware ; then scan the system in normal and safe mode with both programs. This I do on a weekly basis and have found things, not picked up by other systems.

5. This process of elimination might take some time, BUT is vital to ensure that the system is clean.

6. Once I have done all of this, I do Step Number 1 all over again. Restart the machine and then I do a system defrag using Smart Defrag . A Defragging program refiles everything and ensures faster file loading and high disk performance.

General Tips to keep your system safe and secure:

– I repeat Points 1, 4 and 6 once a week.

– I will never open any dubious file or e-mail without first scanning it.

– I always restart my machine when installing updates or programs – after each update or program.

I am not saying this is a fool-proof approach but it is one that in general has been working for me.

Better safe than sorry, just like wearing a condom!