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This guide aims to help keep your PC running optimal and perhaps solve some issues that have recently surfaced. I’ve done maintenance on many systems and have a developed a procedure to effectively clean up, maintain, detect and remove detected threats.

Anti-Virus program of choice

I use Microsoft Security Essentials (installed separately) on Windows 7 and Window Defender on Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 (built-in) as my preferred anti-virus programs. They are clean and don’t hog system resources. If you have your own preference then substitute mine with yours while following my clean up and maintenance strategy.

Important Note: Before running extensive maintenance and scanning for viruses, malware, spyware, trojans and other culprits, I always recommend backing up your data just in case. So proceed only if you’re comfortable that you’ve backed up. Links to download required software is listed at the bottom of this post.

The Procedure

Use the following process in the order listed:

  1. run OS updates and video card updates (restarts may be required – do all updates before proceeding)
  2. run web browser updates (usually, this is automatic depending on your browser)
  3. run Ccleaner’s “Cleaner” tool (analyze first, then clean up)
  4. run Ccleaner’s “Registry” tool (backup registry items at prompt, then run)
  5. run Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows 7) or Windows Defender (built into Windows 8, 8.1, and 10) and remove quarantined items.

Quick Scan vs. Full Scan

A quick scan checks all locations where active malware is known to be found. A full scan checks all your PC file system for “installers” or executables, which could infect your PC if you clicked on them. You must also consider the fact that MSE has real-time protection, so in most cases, a quick scan will suffice for browser and email downloads. Unless you have reason to believe you may have downloaded or copied over malware from an installation originating from a suspicious source, only then would it be recommended to run a full scan – a certain level of paranoia may also warrant a full scan. Expect a full scan to take much longer.

The Extra Procedure

Usually, steps 1 through 5 above is enough. But if you suspect more issues, then proceed with the following additional 4 steps in this order paying close attention to the details:

  1. run Malwarebytes (go to quarantine and remove ONLY those tagged as “adware”. PUPs stands for Potentially Unwanted Programs, so DON’T remove those as you might be deleting programs you know aren’t a threat.) You’ve been warned… If you erase all the PUPs, then you risk messing up your system files and programs rendering your computer unstable. Skip this step if you have no intention of following my warning!
  2. run Housecall (remove quarantined items)
  3. run TDSSKiller (can’t remember if items get moved to quarantine or not. If so, remove the detected items also)
  4. run Ccleaner again – last run (first run Cleaner than run Registry – opt to back up the registry before fixing issues)

Resources

Download the free/home versions. When installing do not install any trials of the paid versions – stick with free/home versions unless you’re doing this for a business of course.

Hope this helps!

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