This procedure is primarily for Windows 2000 and XP, I have used it with Vista, and have had no problems, but I have not extensively tested it in Vista. In other words, BACK UP YOUR DATA.
You will need the following software for this procedure. You can download them all at one time and save them to your computer, or download them as you go along, and just run them instead of saving them. Either way install all four programs, and update the ones that can be updated.
You need the following software, click on the link to download:
RIGHT click on the "MY Computer" Icon and go to "Properties"
Select the "System Restore" Tab, and turn off System Restore.
Click "OK" and wait for Windows to tell you it is turned off.
(Not necessary with Windows 2000)
Click on "Start"
Click on "Run"
type in "msconfig". DO NOT USE THE QUOTES
Press the ENTER key on the Keyboard
A box will pop up
Look for the tab along the top of the box that is labeled "Startup"
Click on this tab and a box will become visible In the lower right corner of this box, right above the "help" button is a button called "Disable All".
Click on the "Disable All Button"
Click on the Boot.ini tab.
Select Safe mode and also select "network".
Click on the "Apply" Button
Click on the "OK" Button
When the computer asks to be allowed to reboot, tell it OK.
The computer will boot into safe mode but you will still be able to get on the Internet.
If you have not already done so, install Cleanup! After it installs run Cleanup!. When the Cleanup! window opens, click on the "Options" button, and select "Standard Cleanup", When it finishes it will instruct you to log off and back on to complete the removal. Do this as directed. I also uncheck the "Enable Sounds" box, especially if I am in an office.
Install, Run and update SpyBot. and wait for SpyBot to shut down and restart.
When SpyBot restarts and gives you the interface, click on the immunize button in the left pane to the left. If it tells you to immunize, click on the green plus sign beside the word "immunize" at the top. After it immunizes, click on the "Search & Destroy" button in the column on the left.
Next, click on the "check for problems" button and start the scan.
When the scan finishes, choose the "Fix Selected Problems" and wait for it to finish.
What this does is:
The scan cleans out a large amount of the common spyware, and is a good first strike. Always scan in safe mode.
Immunize sets a block list into your browser to block known spyware sites from gaining access to your computer. Even if you go to a website that wants to load spyware, your computer will refuse the connection, helping to keep it clean. SpyBot gets along with all antivirus software. Leave it on your system and run it once a week. Be sure to immunize each time.
Now install "Malwarebytes Antimalware" and update it.
Select full scan on your C drive, then scan your computer.
When it is finished, click to see the results and then to remove everything found. Run it over and over until it runs clean 2 times in a row. This is a very thorough spy ware cleaning program. Leave it in your system and run it once a week.
So much for a first strike, now on to the heavy hitters: Viruses.
Forget Norton and Mcafee, they are awful.
Load AVG antivirus and update it
RUN THE AVG OVER AND OVER UNTIL IT RUNS CLEAN 2 TIMES IN A ROW.
After you finish go back and choose a normal boot
(Start>Run>type in "msconfig" without the quotes, go to
Boot.ini. tab and deselect "Safe Boot", then go to the startup and click the "Enable all" button
Right click on "My Computer", and select "Properties", go to the "System Restore" tab and turn system restore back on.
Reboot your computer
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PC Cleaner is a Microsoft certified partner and member of the BBB
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If doing this procedure here has you worried, perhaps you will be better served letting the pros handle cleaning out your computer.