MS Defender in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 was shipped with its own anti-virus - the new, improved Windows Defender. And it's not too bad. Unless you frequent the torrent, coupon, free gaming, or (ahem) other titillating though questionable websites, then Windows Defender along with a weekly MalwareBytes scan might be enough to keep you safe without the expensive and RAM-intensive big Security Suites.

Just Say NO…

I’ve been working on far too many infected computers lately, but many are not accidentally infected with malware. They are being damaged by users who believe the wrong people. preying on your cyber-insecurities.

It's very easy to see a pop-up telling you that you have "3,170" errors on your computer, and you need this app to fix it.

It could be a clever trap, tricking you into installing a dangerous app. Once these apps get on your computer, undoing the damage they can cause is often difficult ...to nearly impossible.

For instance, registry cleaners are notorious for necessitating complete Windows re-installs. There is no such thing as a safe registry cleaner.  No matter what anyone tells you.

To make matters worse, some people even pay for these nasty apps. (If you want to spend money to speed up your computer, buy more RAM.)

Without going into detail, let me just say this: PLEASE do not download and install anything on your computer, unless a qualified and honest tech tells you to.  Most of the time, they are scams.

Oh, and I will repeat: Nobody will ever, ever, ever call you from Microsoft!  ;-)


Here's A Very Helpful Hint:

Did I ever tell you about LKGC?  (Last known good configuration). Before you even pick up the phone to call me - what's the trouble?

If your computer just refuses to boot; if it hangs on the Windows splash screen, or all you get is a blank, black or [your color]  screen, and maybe a mouse curser, then try this before you even pick up the phone to call me:

(Read this whole thing first)

If the computer's on, then press the button to shut down the PC.

Look at your keyboard and locate the "F" keys along the top. You'll want "F8".

Next, locate the arrow keys on the bottom right of your keyboard. (Some laptops show them as triangles)

Turn on the computer, and as soon as you see any printing at all, start tapping the "F8" key - about once per second. (You might remember this as a way to get into safe mode.)

If you get a keyboard error (like a beep) do it all again, and wait a few more seconds before you start to tap.

Eventually, you will see the Windows boot menu. It will be black with a long-ish vertical list of white text options. Use the arrow keys  to select (highlight) "Last Known Good Configuration (the last settings that worked)". When that is highlighted, press ENTER, and wait. You might have to select the proper operating system and press enter again, depending on your boot options.

Wait some more. Then hopefully, it may just boot up for you. Once you're into Windows, you might want to change the thing you were doing that may have caused the issue in the first place. (Bad software?) Or, it  could just be Murphy.

Hope it works!

...ancient history.....
12.17.11 Note :

Microsoft's anti virus, Microsoft Security Essentials, has been fudging a bit lately. (I"m told it works better on Windows 8). I've been recommending Panda Cloud instead (along with adequate malware protection). Panda free runs in the Cloud, so you must be online when you install it. It does not work with dial-up.

When installing, make sure you click "Options" and UN-check the 2 foistware add-ons, from the bottom up. Then continue installing. (Sorry, Panda...  )

Self Promo:

I have been fixing computers for over 15 years, and have a number of industry accepted certifications. (See below).

A few offerings:

  • Hardware and software repairs
  • Virus removal
  • Installations
  • Upgrades
  • Wi-Fi networks
  • Data backup and retrieval

I can install hardware, software, or troubleshoot your network issues.

But most of my calls are virus and malware related. (Symptoms: Very slow computer, possible lost web access, pop-ups, misdirects to strange websites, etc). The people who perpetrate these products upon us are becoming more and more sophisticated. (Crime buffs, read on:)


Scareware: (Rogue Anti Virus apps) Be especially wary if you suddenly see scans pop up out of nowhere, and warnings telling you that you have 100's of "infections". Don't fall for it.  Don't click anything at all. Just pull the network cable if you're hard wired, unplug the router or modem, or hit the wi-fi switch on your laptop. Or just turn off your computer.  And NEVER -ever--give out any credit card info. 

Rootkits: Rootkits have been in the news since 2005, when Übergeek Mark Russinovich caught Sony Corporation installing them on his system via their music CD's. There are many new apps out there (some free, some not) which claim to find and remove dangerous rootkits, but the drama continues, and the truth remains that the best offense against a rootkit is a good defense.

Facebook: UPDATE: Since I wrote this, Facebook has changed its privacy settings several times. Even techs are having trouble keeping up. 

Here is an "Ask Leo"  video that is current as of 02.14.12/ (Loud music)

It seems many Facebook users don't realize: what they post there is immediately visible to 7 billion people.  Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings on the fly, (and it seems that changing a setting may take up to 4 days to actually change online). So unless you want these 7 billion to know your deepest secrets, you should check out this page to get things under control.

Facebook also offers great opportunities for scammers to infect you. Remember that anyone at all can start a Facebook page.


You should  always use a good anti-virus, (not necessarily a big, expensive internet security suite. Check your resources and the app's system requirements...)run frequent malware scans, (not the same as a virus scan) and be careful of where you surf and what you download. 

These days it is even possible to become infected by clicking on a very innocent link.  It used to be that most infections only occurred at "Questionable" websites, but drive-by downloads are getting more wide spread, and now, even innocent sites are unintentionally harboring malware.

Still, the old rule still applies: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

There are many reliable, free apps out there to help protect you. But do your homework.

Even Microsoft now has a free anti-virus program that works slightly better than nothing, although it doesn't stop malware very well. (or rootkits).

But watch out for scareware versions.

There might be some issues with MSE systems that are already running Windows Defender.

And I have been recommending another freebie - Panda Cloud - as well. (Watch out for the foistware. Make sure to click "Options and uncheck those 2-3 boxes from the bottom up) .

It only runs in the cloud, and is the smallest AV I've found. I can't legally install that one for you.

Here's another good freebie:

(as of 7.20.15) Click "Get Free Version"  ONCE and WAIT until the gray Mbam Setup  "save file" box pops up. (Then save it wherever) Do NOT download anything else except Mbam, and don't pay for anything, unless you consciously decide to upgrade to the pro versions. Be sure to uncheck the "Free trial" checkbox, in the last step.

Be aware that certain malware may block the installation. You may have to try safe mode with networking, and/or change the .exe extension to .com. Or use MalwareBytes Chamelion. Or call me :-))

  • Be aware that you should never run 2 anti-virus apps at the same time - even if the old one is outdated. This can actually cripple a system. Before you install any new anti virus, you may need to use aspecial tool to remove the old one.

If you're confused or not sure, call 449-1789. I can clear up any confusion, or fix it for you.

If Windows does get hopelessly broken and/or it won't boot at all no matter what - don't  panic, and don't reinstall Windows yet.  As long as your hard drive still spins up, you can still save your data.  (Even after reinstalling windows, much data might be recoverable.) If you have accidentally deleted something, turn off the computer and don't do anything else at all, until someone can get at it with data recovery software.

NOTE: 1.15.2012

The latest version of MalwareBytes has a blue shortcut. It's a bit resource-hungry for much older systems, but no big issues yet.

My certs:

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