Monday, August 09, 2004

Spybot Search and Destroy

Here is a quickish suggestion/recomendation for all you windows users.

One of the major problems with Windows these days are programs called spyware.They're little programs that are installed by website or by adware software you download to try out on your computer.

What they do is run hidden in the background of your computer monitering what you do with your computer what websites you visit and how often. Then they either report this to the company that made the software or start to pop ad's up (pop ups) when your browsing the internet they can also do other things well such as changing your web browser homepage, adding shortcuts to your favorites and desktop that take you to online casinos, pornsites, web browsers, dialing up 0900 or international numbers when your not using your computer, steal the passwords for the online sites you visit (including banks) and other similar things or they may do nothing except monitor what your doing.

These things are annoying but its the other problem they cause which can be even more annoying. Many of these little programs are VERY badly written or designed and can slow your computer down a lot, cause it to crash or simply cause various problems for other programs you try to install or use.

Once the apps are installed though (and if you use the computer to connect to the Internet they will be) they're much harder to get rid of. This is were a number of free ad ware/spyware removal programs come in, Spybot Search and Destroy being one of the better. What these programs do is scan your computer for installations of the spyware programs and remove them for you. This can lead to some quite dramatic reductions in problems with Windows.

So here is how to get Spybot Search and destroy and use it to clean up your computer.

First go here and click on one of the "download here" buttons to download the app it's about 4.2MB so will take about 10-15mins if you use a 56K modem to connect to the Internet. Once it's downloaded install it. Then once it's installed it will either run depending on what options you choose or you'll need to run it. Once it's running it will ask to make a back up of the register which is generally a good idea which if you decided to do (you should!) will take a couple of mins and longer on older computers. After that's done click next and It'll ask you get "scan for updates" click on it and then once that's finished click "Download updates". It'll download the updates then click next again. Here it will ask to immunize the System probably worth doing click next again and then start using the program (you could read the help stuff there if you wanted) then on the left bar click search and destroy and then in the main window search for problems. This will take a while as there are over 15,000 problems it checks for. Once it's finished scanning the computer it will list any problems it's found to fix them then click "fix problems". Some of them it may not be able to fix right away and if so it will ask you to allow it to scan the computer next time you restart/Turn it on. This is worth doing so click yes.
Then next time you restart the computer it will scan for and remove the remaining problems.

I'd suggest you scan the computer every month or two as the programs install them selves pretty fast.

To stop these little programs there are several things you can do with one of the most effective to simply use a non IE (Internet Explorer) web browser. This makes it alot harder for the programs to install them selves. Combined with using another non Outlook or Outlook Express email client this can also make it hard for viruses and worms to infect your computer.

Some of the best alternative browsers and webclients are
Web Browsers:
Firefox: web browser a 4.7MB download for windows.
Mozilla: a web browser and Email suite 12MB
Opera: web browser and mail client

Firefox and Mozilla are free while Opera charges for the full version of it's web browser. I'd personally recomend Firefox for simple web browsing and Mozilla for WebBrowsing and Email.

Thunderbird: Email Client
Mozilla Mail: part of the Mozilla Suite above.
Opera Mail: part of Opera above.

All are good email apps Thunderbird and Mozilla Mail especially I'd recomend Thunderbird is designed to complement Firefox and replace Mozilla Mail. It features very good junk mail filtering and various other nice features that aren't available for IE and Outlook or Outlook Express.

Quick note don't bother trying this on the uni computers.

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