Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spyware Scanning--the how and when to run them

I figure it was about time to do a little updating to my TIPS page regarding the act of performing the spyware scans. As you will find, from the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page, you can download and install any of the programs I make mention of. In this case, Spybot Search and Destroy, AVG Antispyware and Ad-Aware. As well, CCleaner and SpywareBlaster which are not spyware scanners but spyware gaurds and removal tools. First of all, on any typical computer I am setting up, I will place these 5 program icons in a row from left to right as "ccleaner", "spyware blaster", spybot s & d, AVG antispyware, and finally Ad-aware. I do this because this is the order in which I suggest you run the programs and note that this entire process will take less then 3 minutes and possibly less then 1 minute, depending on the speed of your computer. Note that this will START the process of scanning but the actual job will take much longer, more like 2 to 3 hours in most cases. This is why I suggest performing this task at the end of your computing day. Personally, on my way to bed I'll start them up. So, to start with CCleaner. This program will scan and remove all the temporary Internet files, cookies and history that we are always so worried about. Quite simply you click on the icon to start the program, then you click on RUN CLEANER button on the bottom right corner. Note the first time you do this you will get a prompt asking if you are sure you want to remove whatever it finds. You can click on the small check box to 'not ask me this in the future'. As well, if there was an updated version available, this will typically remind you when you first start the program. Also note if this does happen, you will be prompted "do you want to get this new version now?" Of course you do want it, but to say yes will take you to their website which you will then be directed to another download site, where you will wait for their sponsorship to kick in before spitting the file at you. You can avoid this by getting the latest version from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page by simply clicking on the file and choosing RUN and it will install over top of the old version. Once the scan is done you are done.. there are two other levels but for the most part that is all you have to do.. If you want to do a more thorough cleaning read on, otherwise skip down to the next program "SPYWAREBLASTER"; The second level of cleaning using CCLeaner is to clean the Applications. Typically this will either find nothing or very few files as this is where it removes any temporary files from other installs such as adobe acrobat reader or java updates. So all you do is click on the APPLICATION tab and then run the CLEANER button again. Finally the last step and this one I would recommend only for ADVANCED USERS: This is cleaning out registry entries that are of no use anymore. To run this you click on the ISSUES button on the left hand menu, then click on the ANALYZE button. This will scan your system and will leave you with some sort of results. Of course no results is perfect but anything else you will want to clean. So clicking on FIX SELECTED ISSUES button will now prompt you if you want to create a backup of your registry in which case you will most definitely want to say YES to this. I suggest creating a 'registry backups' folder within MY DOCUMENTS. Once you have done this, simply save it and it will save as a file name that includes the date and time.. no need to change the file name here. Now you can click on FIX ALL SELECTED ISSUES and say yes to the prompt are "are you sure". Click on Close when you are done. Then run it again by clicking on ANALYZE. Complete the entire step again only this time when you choose to save the file, if you are prompted to overwrite the file, simply add the letter a to the end of the file name (this way you are saving it as a new file name and not overwriting the first registry clean). I suggest running this until you have removed all of the problems. If you find that there are still one or two remaining after a few scans, leave it at that and move on.. it may be something more serious that will hopefully be removed with one of the other program scanners.Now you are ready for SPYWAREBLASTER. (final note on CCLEANER is that there are other tools that you can use however I highly suggest you leave these for your computer technician or get direct instruction as in step by step on removing anything else to prevent deleting system files required to run windows) SPYWARE BLASTER. Clicking on this, you will notice 0 items have been disabled. If you see any number other then 0 here then click on ENABLE ALL PROTECTION button near the bottom. Note the first time you install and run this, you will need to enable all and complete an update. Now click on DOWNLOAD LATEST PROTECTION UPDATES button at the bottom and follow the steps. If there are updates, it will automatically download and end by stating how many new definitions are not protected and by clicking on the blue link line will complete the task. That's it. Note if you forget to click on this link and you go back to the beginning of this program (by either closing it or clicking on STATUS) you will see the number is not 0 in which case you can click on ENABLE ALL PROTECTION. SPYBOT Search & Destroy. Note if you have never run Spybot before, then you will want to go through a setup to make scanning very easy. Do this by using the following settings. Start the program and when prompted about legal issues, click on the check box to not show you this again. Now once the program opens choose the MODE button and change it to ADVANCED. You will be prompted about this but say OK and move on. In advanced mode you can now click on the SETTINGS button and then you will see the SETTINGS in the list and click on this. Now in the body of the program you will see all the settings that can be adjusted. This is where you can select and de-select whatever you choose. Personally I have it set to the following: Advanced mode desktop icon no icon quick launch advanced mode start menu item main settings first item unchecked and the rest checked except 'display confirmation and display compatibility' leaving the rest, move down to AUTOMATION and PROGRAM START Select the first two 'run check on program start' and 'fix all programs on program start' rerun is NOT checked IMMUNIZED on programs is checked DON'T ASK for fixing confirmation is checked. Move down to WEB UPDATE and select the first two only. Now move down to EXPERT SETTINGS (leaving everything in between as is) De-select the first two "use shredders" Select the last two "show expert buttons" and now close the program and click on the spybot icon to start it.. it should now completely do everything from download and install the updates to starting the scan, to removing whatever it finds and finally leaving it at a results log whereas all you will be doing is closing it (or making note if you see the same items that it is removing or having troubles with) One final note on this program. Once you have made these settings changes, if you need to get back in to the settings, simply CANCEL the scan and wait until it completes and now you can click on SETTINGS and make the necessary changes. At this point, you can read my original TIP on using spybot and adaware which may be a little redundant but hey-you have read this much so what's a little more reading right? :-) AVG Antispyware I put in between Spybot S & D and Adaware simply because I am suggesting you start Spybot as this will first go and check for updates and download whatever is available. ONCE SPYBOT S & D HAS STARTED SCANNING you can then start both AVG and AdAware and 'check for updates'.. Note that since Spybot is now scanning your system may be a little sluggish. Once you have updated the definitions (for both AVG and AdAware) you can click on SCANNER and do a full scan. AdAware you can start and click on CHECK FOR UPDATES and perform all updates while AVG is also getting updates. Note Adaware once you click on Start to start the scan, be sure the selection is set to PERFORM FULL SYSTEM SCAN and have BOTH check boxes checked at the bottom "Search for negligible... " and "Search for low-risk" are checked. Now click NEXT and the scan will start. At this point I am usually on my way to bed as everything is scanning and will continue until it is completed.. whenever that is... so when I get back to the computer in the morning I will complete the tasks which will be to remove (delete) any items found. So I know this was a lot of reading, but believe me, if you perform this DAILY, you are almost sure to keep yourself free and clear of the spyware/malware that causes slowdowns and freezing. Happy surfing!