Backing up, and the joys of computer ownership.

Hello All, I am Trish.  I will be your guest author today and I want to talk to you about backing up your computer and the joys of owning a computer.

First off, who am I? I am one of Angela’s friends whom she has known since about 8th grade. When Ang went off to her College, We held tight our friendship and we tried to keep in contact as much as two people just out of high school can. Usually these bits of contact involved me trying to help her with her computer problems.

Today, this relationship continues.  I am the admin to her website as well as about 6 others, including my own company Lucky Lola studios, a wedding and portraiture company based in Columbus, Ohio.

This week, Angela, in dealing with ALL that’s going on in her world right now, seems to have lost her computer to the nastiest of all nasties in the computer world, Hard Drive failure.  (We are trying to get all her info off it currently, don’t despair yet, it might be repairable!)

Because of this, i wanted to reach out to all of her readers.

I personally believe that EVERYONE, in this day and age, should have a back-up system.  I truely believe that having an external hard drive is the best thing for all those digital pictures that we all take a million of.  If we were all honest with ourselves, we all know that 99% of all of our photos will never be printed.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Here is a GREAT website for purchasing external hardrives. Newegg is where i purchase all of my parts. I highly recommend them, for their reviews, and purchasing.

Next on my list of things to discuss with you is your Virus Protection and your ADaware Protection.

Please dont be snow’d. They are NOT the same…

Since this is a HUGE post, i will not clutter up the whole page with the information… I would ask that you continue by clicking the “More” tag below.

First off let me state, i did NOT put together this list. One of the forums i am involved with has a huge sticky on fixing computers from viruses and ad ware.  Because of this the membership came up with a brilliant post that was edited thru thousands and thousands of posts till finally this lovely post was put together.  I one hundred percent agree with all of this information.

Dont be alarmed, its alot of information to take in.  And its for the good of your sanity to try and read this post.

Tools for Getting Rid of Existing Infections
If you’ve already got a bad malware infection and are seeing random popups, phony ‘antivirus’ messages, and slow performance, these tools will help you get that junk cleaned off. Most of these tools work best when run from Safe Mode.

1. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware –
This is an essential one. Even if you have other software installed, install this as well. It gets rid of most of the worst malware, though it does miss some of the minor stuff. Running this should be step one of killing a nasty infection.

2. Combofix –
Download the most recent copy of this and run it in safemode. It executes a series of scripts designed to kill all the worst crapware.

3. Hijackthis –
If you don’t know what you are doing, use this with the guidance of experts either here or on a tech forum. It lets you kill items that attempt to start up from oddball locations when your system boots.

4. Spybot Search & Destroy –

This program is awesome at removing a lot of crapware. It isn’t as good as Malwarebytes at getting the really tricky stuff, but it is better than Malwarebytes when it comes to detecting and removing the smaller less annoying stuff. It also comes with realtime behavoural spyware blocking (Tea Timer) and an immunization feature to block known threats at the browser level.

5. Ad-Aware –
I don’t use this a whole lot anymore as it is a bit redundant, but it does catch some minor items that might slip past Spybot-S&D and Malwarebytes.

6. SDFix –
Rootkits are the most annoying malware of all. Malwarebytes and Combofix can remove many, but if after running them your computer is still acting crazy download the latest SDFix and run it in safe mode. (Thanks Malfrag for reminding me )

Tools for Browsing the Internet Safely
The following will protect you at the most likely point of attack- the web browser.

1. Common Sense – Not Yet Available for Download
Don’t click isht you don’t need. Don’t download every peer-to-peer app, screensaver, wallpaper rotator, flash game and cute little widget you see. If something looks fishy, it probably is.

2. Don’t use IE! Use an alternative like Firefox –
Once you have Firefox, install the following add-ons through the ‘Tools’ menu to help keep your browsing safe:
a) Adblock Plus – blocks almost all ads, including ones poisoned with malicious scripts
b) Filterset.g – updates Adblock’s directory of ad servers < CORRECTION: Adblock Plus has a list subscription of it’s own and the author states that filterset.g may slow ABP down.
c) Web Of Trust – warns you about possible dangers on a page before you click it.
d) NoScript – INSTALL ONLY IF YOU ARE HARDCORE- blocks all scripts, which keeps you incredibly safe but can also make some websites unusable.

3. Use Better DNS Servers! – Use the servers, which are fast as hell and filter out a lot of known evil sites. Go into your Network Connection properties and under TCP/IP set the following as your DNS Servers: and
*Don’t do this at your office without approval from your IT dept

4. Use a Better HOSTS File! – Use the one from It’s pretty easy to do and there are instructions on their site for replacing your current HOSTS file with their’s. This blocks a ton of known bad hosts quickly and easily.

5. Don’t use an Administrator account – Create a limited user account and use it. Only log in with an administrator account when you need to administrate (adding/removing software, drivers, etc).

Protecting Your Computer from Viruses
There are commercial and freeware products available. If you are going to pay for antivirus, I recommend NOD32 ( or Kaspersky ( Norton and McAfee are bloated memory hogs. I’d rather have a virus than either of those.

**There are also lots of great freeware choices, but if you are going to go the free route I highly recommend reading this:


^Based on research such as this and on personal experience, if going with a free solution I would recommend using one of the following:

1. AntiVIR


2. Avast!

^Both offer a small footprint and good detection. AVG Free Edition is okay, but each new version of it seems slower and bulkier than the prior. Another option is Comodo, but for me the verdict is still out on it.

Protecting your Computer from SPYWARE, MALWARE, ETC.
A lot of these I’ve mentioned above, but just for review:

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (you must pay for realtime scanning!)
Spybot Search and Destroy (realtime scanning is FREE ftw)

Spyware Terminator (realtime scanning for FREE AND ClamWin integration ftw)

Ad-Aware (you must pay for realtime scanning!)

Windows Defender – (comes with Windows Vista, free download for XP. I’ve had problems with it, and it seems like a bit of a slowpoke, but it works. Mostly.)

SuperAntispyware – (Great anti-malware package, but you must pay for realtime scanning.)

Other tools
CCleaner – Essential for cleaning up temp files and your registry.

ProcessExplorer – Track down pesky crapware hiding behind svchosts or just being sneaky.

HiJackthis – see description above

Beware of Phony Antispyware Software!
A lot of malware will install or prompt you to install supposed remedies for your problems. Running these programs will only dig you deeper in your hole! Here is a list of known legitimate software (lifted from another site):

a squared Anti Malware
Acronis Privacy Expert Suite
Ad Aware Pro
Ad Aware SE
Adware Away
AdWare SpyWare Removal
Aluria Anti Spyware
Anonymizer Anti Spyware
Antiy Ghostbusters
Arovax AntiSpyware Beta
Ashampoo AntiSpyWare
AVG Anti Spyware
CheckFlow Anti Spyware 2005
Doctor Alex
eAcceleration StopSign Threat Scanner
EMCO Malware Destroyer
eTrust Pestpatrol
INAC Anti Spyware
Malwarebytes Anti Malware
Malware Sweeper
McAfee AntiSpyware
Microsoft AntiSpyware (aka Windows Defender)
Omniquad AntiSpy
ParetoLogic Anti Spyware
PC Pitstop Exterminate
Spinach AntiSpyware
Spy Emergency 2005
Spy Killer
Spy Sweeper
Spybot Search and Destroy
SpyCatcher Express
SpyCleaner Gold
SpyWall Anti Spyware
Spyware BeGone
Spyware Browser Antispyware
Spyware Nuker XT
Spyware Razor
SpyWare SmasheR
Spyware Terminator
Spyware Vanisher
Spyware X terminator 2005
Spyware Doctor
Steganos AntiSpyware 2006
System Spyware Interrogator
Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware
Trustsoft AntiSpyware
VIPRE Antivirus and Antispyware
Windows Defender
XSpy Shield
Yahoo Anti Spy
ZeroSpyware 2005
ZoneAlarm Anti Spyware

^If it’s not on this list, stay far far away from it.

5 thoughts on “Backing up, and the joys of computer ownership.”

  1. Booo!! No Macs.. 😛
    Ok, i really dont have much against macs, but they are NOT immune to viruses.. just less likely because hackers want to affect the masses.

    They are also expensive.

  2. I second the mac suggestion. I can’t remember the last time we had a problem with it, virus or otherwise.

  3. I don’t believe Macs will ever see the same level of trouble Windows has. The browser in Mac doesn’t run with install privileges (neither do the email clients or any office software), that’s your #1 vector for Virus on Windows. To solve this, just avoid using MSIE, you can now run Safari (Apple’s browser), Firefox, and Opera on Windows, there’s no reason not to switch.

    Back on topic – I like two backup solutions better than what’s stated above:
    1) get a USB flash drive and stick photos there. USB flash will outlive CD’s by a long shot.
    2) offsite storage like (takes a little more work)

  4. thank you for this incredibly informative article. very timely, too. i just got a new laptop, and although i thought very hard about getting a mac, ultimately i decided to stay with a PC. this is very helpful, because i want to be much more proactive in keeping safe. thanks!

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