ABC Tower   ABC Nightlife 3 February 2006

Tips & Hints

Posted 12 March 2006

Our March spot featured security problems given the recent publicity to Apple Mac bugs. As computer bugs, viruses and data loss are a fact of life for all computer users, we also had a quick look at backup options. We had a wide variety of callers with the main theme being viruses and spyware.

Installing a new virus scanner

Many Windows users are receiving messages about their virus scanners expiring, as regular listeners and subscribers know, we are not fans of Norton and McAfee Anti Virus and we recommend installing alternative programs that are more effective at catching malware and less demanding on the computer system. Two that meet the bill are AVG anti-virus and the Sygate Personal Firewall. But uninstalling antivirus and spyware programs have their own risks, so it's important to take care when removing the old program and installing a new one.
  1. Create a restore point. Before starting, make sure you've created a restore point so you can undo things if they go wrong. Microsoft have instructions on their website explaining how to use the System Restore feature.

  2. Backup your data. Before you do anything on your system you should always make a copy of your important data.

  3. Get the new programs. If you are downloading the new programs, do it now. Otherwise go to your local computer store and buy the new software.

  4. Read the manual. Read the instructions on uninstalling the old software and installing the new software. If you don't have a manual, visit the vendor's website and have a look at their support pages. While reading manuals is a radical idea for computer users, it might save you many hours of grief.

  5. Disconnect from the Internet. Make sure you are disconnected, by logging out and pulling out the phone line, usb or network cable that connects your computer.

  6. Uninstall the old software. Go to the Control Panel, open Add/Remove programs and uninstall the old program. If the uninstall instructions are different, follow them. You will probably be asked to reboot the computer, even if you aren't prompted to do so, you should anyway.

  7. Install the new software. Once all the old programs are removed, install the new packages. Again, follow the instructions. If you are asked to go online to register or update the system, skip that step until you reconnect to the Internet.

  8. Reconnect the computer. After you have restarted, reconnect to the Internet. Do not surf the net or check your email until you have run the update programs for your anti-virus. Again, you might have to reboot a couple of times.

The steps are quite long and time consuming, but it's worth it to keep your system running well. Having old antivirus programs kicking around the system are a common cause of slow computers. If any of these steps are too difficult, or don't work, we recommend you contact your local computer serviceman.

Problems accessing Hotmail

Pat called about her not being able to open Hotmail. Like most Microsoft sites, Hotmail uses Active Scripting to work which is the same technology that spyware writers often use. Active Scripting problems often indicate an underlying spyware problem.

We'd recommend first making sure Pat scans her system for spyware. A good online scanner is available from Spyware Info website. If you have spyware then it's best to do a serious clean up. Once the system is clean of spyware, it's necessary to update the Windows Scripting Host and Java. The Windows Scripting Host can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. The latest Java engine can be downloaded from the Java website.

Spy Falcon

Fiona called about some spyware called Spy Falcon she's had trouble removing. The respected spyware removers at CastleCops describe it as a "nightmare rebranded". Not is it bad spyware, built on the SpyAxe family of spyware, but the removal tool kindly provided by the vendor incorporates the WMF file exploit.

The best results we've had when dealing with the SpyAxe family is with the Smitrem tool. This is a free download but it does require a little knowledge to use. If you find it too hard, then you should contact a competent computer tech.

As usual our apologies to the many callers who couldn’t get through. The next Nightlife computer spot will be at 10pm April 7, but that is to be confirmed. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date with our schedule then subscribe to our newsletter.
PC Rescue Pty Ltd, Suite 236, 4 Young Street Neutral Bay NSW 2089
ABN 082 635 765
©Technology Publishing Australia, 2007