5 Free Tools to Prevent Viruses and Spyware from Crippling Your PC

Posted by on April 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm

It happens to the best of us: you stumble across a website or open an e-mail that suddenly unleashes havoc on your computer. Pop-up windows start flying everywhere, you can’t launch a single program, and your machine is rendered useless. You can prevent this from happening or try to fix your problems with the free programs below:

Spybot: Search and Destroy
Spybot is a great free program that detects and removes adware and spyware, which is software that obtains information from a your computer without your consent . Even if you do not see anything wrong with your computer, you should update and run this software weekly to clean out any spyware that’s tracking your surfing behavior or has installed malicious adware. For more information on how to install, scan and clean your computer, head on over to Spybot’s tutorial page.

AdAware
AdAware protects your computer from from viruses, spyware, trojans, rootkits, keyloggers, password stealers, and much more. The free-for-personal-use version is very effective at removing spyware and adware, but anti-virus capabilities are only included in the paid versions starting at $26.95. This is another program that should be run at least once a week if possible. AdAware’s website has a list of video tutorials to help you get to know the program.

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
AVG picks up the viruses that the free versions of Spybot and AdAware don’t. AVG’s free edition will make sure you can’t get or spread a virus, worm, or Trojan horse that can destroy your machine and repairs or throws what it finds into quarantine. This program should be set to scan every night if possible, as viruses are usually what kills your computer over spyware. Like AdAware, AVG has some good video tutorials to walk you through their program.

avast! Free Anti-Virus
avast! is very similar to AVG but with a few differences: while AVG only allows a full system scan, avast! offers quick scans that search for infections only in typical folders on your computer. This is good if you’re being proactive in your anti-virus protection and want to frequently check your computer without spending hours on the scan. It also automatically updates itself, while AVG is manually updated. AVG is more well-known and does tend to update faster and has more stable servers, so whichever you choose is really up to your preference. They have an active support community to help answer any questions you may have.

Knoppix
Knoppix is a small operating system that doesn’t require installation– it boots right from a CD. In the unfortunate event that you get a virus that you simply can’t remove, Knoppix makes it possible to backup all of your important files without loading Windows. Simply download Knoppix for free, burn it onto a CD, pop it in the infected computer and back up your files onto a portable hard drive. For more detailed instructions, check out this guide to Computer First Aid Using Knoppix.

There are many more free software packages to use to help protect yourself from virus and spyware attacks, but these are a few of the more popular choices. What software do you use to protect your computer?

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