Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

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Breakdaddy
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Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Breakdaddy »

I wrote up the following by way of response to a few queries I have gotten lately via email and forum user PMs. I hope you find it helpful.

I was a computer repair tech for around 5 years and have since moved on to being a senior systems administrator with a focus on virtualization systems (Citrix and VMWare). I have long been a computer enthusiast/hobbyist and have used and continue to use Apple systems, Windows systems, and Linux systems. I would like to dispense a little advice for Windows PC users today to help folks keep their systems running in tip top shape and also to ease initial setup. Whenever I do a fresh install of windows, the first thing I do is head over to ninite.com and checkmark java, VLC (video lan client), firefox (or chrome, I fluctuate on this), 7zip, Microsoft security essentials (win8 already has defender built in, so ignore this on win8), foxit pdf reader, and malwarebytes and click “get installer”. Then run the installer and ninite’s setup program will install these apps automatically and without bloatware. I also get a bunch of other apps while Im there, but for most users, the above should help you keep your system running just fine. Keep malwarebytes updated and run a full scan weekly if you can. If you have windows 8 and cant stand the default interface grab classic shell (http://www.classicshell.net/). It will give you a more familiar win7 style interface. Run windows update right after this from control panel or your start menu and reboot as required.

If you get a virus or spyware, all is not lost. I will provide a list of links to software that will help get a bootable system up and running again in a virus free state. If necessary, boot into safemode or safemode with networking by hitting the F8 key during system bootup before the system gets to the windows loading screen. Timing can be tricky here, so mash F8 a lot if you have to right after you startup your system):

Superantispyware (can be gotten through ninite.com or https://www.superantispyware.com/ Update then run full scan)

eset online scanner:
http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/

RogueKiller:
http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details ... iller.html

TDSS Killer:
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/tdsskiller/

Hitman Pro:
http://www.surfright.nl/en/hitmanpro/

COMBOFIX (this one is awesome, but it CAN render your PC inoperable so only use when all else fails or if things arent opening on the PC still. Windows 8 is NOT supported.):
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/combofix/

An unbootable system is a bit trickier to work with, but I will try to revisit this later and add some helpful tips.

I can add to this post later, but all should be aware that this is general advice and I can not be held responsible in any way for any damage or issues caused by using any of the aforementioned products or sites. They are all currently considered reputable and I have seen each of these get the job done personally.
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Relaxo
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Relaxo »

Awesome!
Thanks BD!
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Lurker »

Relaxo wrote:Awesome!
Thanks BD!

+1
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Zudrak
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Zudrak »

Threads like this make coming to these boards even more valuable to me. Thanks, BD!
Psalm 73:26

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"Rules not understood should have appropriate questions directed to the publisher; disputes with the Dungeon Master are another matter entirely. THE REFEREE IS THE FINAL ARBITER OF ALL AFFAIRS OF HIS OR HER CAMPAIGN."
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Dracyian
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Dracyian »

Zudrak wrote:Threads like this make coming to these boards even more valuable to me. Thanks, BD!
Thank you much sir

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Breakdaddy
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Breakdaddy »

Youre welcome, guys.

If you are on your laptop or desktop PC and need to get your wireless key before a reinstall of windows, or if you simply forgot it, grab wirelesskeyview (this has come in real handy when I was at my mom's for a visit and she forgot her wireless key and I wanted it for my laptop):
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/wireless_key.html

NOTE: Because this program is technically reading sensitive registry keys on your windows install, some antivirus or antimalware programs may detect it as PUP (potentially unwanted program) or spyware. It is completely safe and virus free, and trusted by techs along with other nirsoft apps.
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Breakdaddy
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Breakdaddy »

Downloaded a file or program and are not completely sure if its safe? Upload it to the free and ultra-handy VirusTotal (https://www.virustotal.com/en/). VirusTotal.com scans files up to 64megs in size for you with a battery of reputable antivirus/antimalware apps and shows you a report of the results. Some MAY be false positives, but any app that has more than a couple of bad returns should be considered a problem app unless you are absolutely sure you are seeing false positives.
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Sir Ironside
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Sir Ironside »

Not exactly on target, but it is a computer question.

Occasionally I get asked about my computer specs.Some is no big deal, but other times it is kind of important. I have found it, in the past, but my brain has decided that it isn't important enough, sends it to the Recycle Bin then empties Recycle Bin.
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by serleran »

Sir Ironside wrote:Not exactly on target, but it is a computer question.

Occasionally I get asked about my computer specs.Some is no big deal, but other times it is kind of important. I have found it, in the past, but my brain has decided that it isn't important enough, sends it to the Recycle Bin then empties Recycle Bin.
I assume you want to look at your own computer specifications? Easy enough. Press Windows +R. Type msinfo32. Do it again and type dxdiag.

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Breakdaddy
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Breakdaddy »

Serl is right. If you want an easy to navigate app with the same type of info, fully exportable to easy to read file formats, try this free little app called system spec (http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Sys ... Spec.shtml). Dont forget to right-click and run AS ADMINISTRATOR after you download it.
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by CKDad »

A fairly new tool which you may want to check out (and those of you who wind up being the family tech support might want to steer people to) is Jumpshot (www.jumpshot.com). It's a bootable USB with a boatload of automated malware-cleaning and PC-optimizing goodies. I know one of the founders - he's a serious expert on malware and used to run the research team for one of the major security companies. You can't really tweak what it's doing, so it's less useful for true power users, but again great for those less-technically-skilled folks (like, say, your in-laws).

I am also a huge fan of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which has helped keep my machines from becoming infected a number of times.

Lastly, everyone should have a back up strategy for their computers. There's a lot of really good online backup solutions out there, many of which also allow you to back up your systems to each other, or to a shared network-attached drive. I use Crashplan myself due to their great licensing for multiple PCs, but other people I respect say good things about Carbonite.
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by capmarvel »

Take a look at Sandboxie. Many of us use it and it's done a good job of protecting our PC's.

Basically you tell it what programs to put in a "sand box"...meaning those programs can run but not make permanent changes to your PC. They think they're writing to your C: drive, but they're really working in a "virtual area" on your PC.

http://www.sandboxie.com/

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Sir Ironside
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Sir Ironside »

First thread subscribed on TLG. I'll never remember that much, info and I don't really want to write it all down.
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by DeadReborn »

The Super Anti Spyware program is amazing. Apparently, my comp was riddled with spyware. This cleaned it right up. It found stuff that other programs didn't. Thanks Breakdaddy! :)
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by bloodymage »

I'm no computer wiz. Wish I was. I lost 2 years of work when I did a fresh install of Win 7. I'm trying to learn but the technology moves to fast for this old codger. When I get settled I hope to renew my Crusader sub and get the new stuff. Breakdaddy, maybe you can do some remote assistance when I'm set up again (still waiting for a damned house).

This move and my tumor have really did me in and my son is too busy and can only give me minimal help. I'm still gaming, still writing though it's harder than it once was. :(

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Buttmonkey
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Buttmonkey »

Hey, Bdaddy. Any changes to your advice from a year ago? I'm about to get a new laptop, so good setup tips are relevant for me.
tylermo wrote:Your efforts are greatly appreciated, Buttmonkey. Can't believe I said that with a straight face.

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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by serleran »

There is another utility for Windows, though pricy, which can be used to keep your machine at whatever state you want... so, get it the way you want, and lock it down. Of course, you won't be changing it either, so no updates or application installs, but if you want to make sure the system is the system for as long as you want.... check out Deep Freeze. More useful to those with more than one PC. Fun to play with though.

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mbeacom
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by mbeacom »

Tons of great tips on this thread. Thanks Breakdaddy!

As a long time computer nerd and admin, I'll add a few tidbits for keeping your system in tip top shape after you follow Breakdaddys initial setup and config advice (which is awesome). Right when you finish with his tips, do the following if you're able.

1. Remove/hide all links to local Microsoft email clients. These include outlook, outlook express, windows mail, etc.
2. Install a good 3rd party email client. I usually recommend Thunderbird. It's free and about 1000 times better and more secure than any flavor of outlook.
3. Remove/hide all links to Internet Explorer.
4. Install Chrome or Firefox. They are free and much better than IE.
5. Create a new Windows admin account and change your current account to normal user. Never run day to day with Admin privileges. If you don't run with admin priveleges, any virus that wants to cause real harm will need to prompt you for a password.
6. Any time you get a system prompt for a password that you don't recognize (and even if you think you do), slow down and think about it before you enter your password.

Rationale: Your email and web browsing are the entry points for about 99.9 percent of all viral loads. MS email and web clients are notoriously easy to feed malware and trojans to. By simply running chrome/firefox/thunderbird, you'll decrease your virus exposure by 70%. By removing automatic access to your computer by running in normal user mode, you'll stop another 25% of them. With things like malwarebytes and the like, you should be in good shape to find and eliminate the rest as soon as possible.

Lastly, if you have Windows 8 and want it to act "normal", get Start8 form Stardock. It's like $5 and makes Windows 8 as good as it was supposed to be, which is to say, a little better than 7. I also recommend Modern Mix by the same people. It allows you to run Metro apps in the Windows desktop environment.
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serleran
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by serleran »

After setting up the PC, and before you install anything else (even Windows Updates), I would suggest getting a legit (free from their site) copy of Spybot Search and Destroy. Then, update it and immunize.

I find it works pretty well and does not eat a lot of memory.

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Breakdaddy
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Breakdaddy »

I havent revisited this thread in a long time and I apologize for missing newer questions and observations. Thanks very much to those who are more current on computer upkeep and repair and have contributed to the thread. My skill set is not as up to date as others but I can dispense a bit advice that I hope will be helpful. There is a youtube channel run by a very savvy Englishman named Brian Walker called 'Britec09'. He has loads of excellent and current advice freely available on his channel. If you need help, I would suggest checking Britec09's channel for the answer on your journey to find the answer to your computer related issue. I have spoken wih Brian several times and he is a top notch fellow who owns his own computer repair business and is very good at this stuff. Since we also have some savvy folks right here on the boards, I think you'll likely get the answer you're looking for.
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Zudrak »

I just wanted to express my thanks again to everyone who posted tips in this thread. I got a new computer two Sundays ago and started setting it up this past weekend, using tips from Breakdaddy, CKDad, serleran, capmarvel, and mbeacom.
Psalm 73:26

"Knowledge, logic, reason, and common sense serve better than a dozen rule books."

"Rules not understood should have appropriate questions directed to the publisher; disputes with the Dungeon Master are another matter entirely. THE REFEREE IS THE FINAL ARBITER OF ALL AFFAIRS OF HIS OR HER CAMPAIGN."
-- E. Gary Gygax

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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by koralas »

One thing that is critically important, often overlooked, even more so by us techs... Backup, Backup, Backup!!! Still better, look into some cloud storage like Google Drive and OneDrive. Not only can you have a local cache that is automatically stored on the web service, but you also can go back and pull up previous versions of a document if corrupted, encrypted (such as by CryptoLocker/Wall), or deleted. You can also share the document and/or folders with others easily, and then pull those permissions back.

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Michael Montalto
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Michael Montalto »

17 year IT Pro.

I have every certification that one can possibly have in the Microsoft stack.

Bachelors in Computer Science.

Want my best advice?

Buy a Mac. Problem solved.

Five years running a Mac, 0 viruses. 0 slow downs. 0 hijacks. 0 worries.

Want to run Windows? Run it on a Mac via VM Fusion. Back up VM, restore VM if you get a virus.

Stop living in 2004.

-mM

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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Arduin »

Michael Montalto wrote: Want my best advice?

Buy a Mac. Problem solved.
Uck. Can't stand them. My wife still hates the one she uses while working for a client. Linux is faster and more secure.

But, I've only been in computers & high tech for >30 years. ;)
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Michael Montalto
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Michael Montalto »

I'm not getting into this sort of conversation again because it's going to turn into a dick measuring contest. You have my advice.

Buy a mac.

-mM

koralas
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by koralas »

Michael Montalto wrote:17 year IT Pro.

I have every certification that one can possibly have in the Microsoft stack.

Bachelors in Computer Science.

Want my best advice?

Buy a Mac. Problem solved.

Five years running a Mac, 0 viruses. 0 slow downs. 0 hijacks. 0 worries.

Want to run Windows? Run it on a Mac via VM Fusion. Back up VM, restore VM if you get a virus.

Stop living in 2004.

-mM
Like Arduin, 30 years in the industry. Was a first 500 Windows 2000 MCSE, no degree, but back in the day didn't really have degree programs but for programming. Want my best advice? Buy what you are comfortable with. Buy what works for you. Buy what has the applications you are looking for.

Mac's are great for many people, but the cost is exceptionally high. 0 Viruses/Worries though are a bit of a misleading comments. Mac's do have viruses written for them, just much fewer because of the lower market share. And viruses are the least of your worries these days. Yeah it would suck to loose your pictures and music files, but that can happen with either platform, and not just from a virus or malware. Backups are your only method of safeguarding your data. Bigger issues lie in access to the web, and all platforms have issues there. The user behind the keyboard can be the best defense for any system, or the weakest point to attack.

The hardware of a Windows or Mac PC will both eventually fail, and since they are the same components these days, the chance of failure is the same. And it also begs the question of why it is so more expensive. The biggest concern I have with Apple, is why they require you to run the OS on only Apple branded hardware, when there is nothing proprietary in their hardware. I think they are missing a larger revenue stream.

I am working on a Surface Pro 3 right now, works great, and had a painless upgrade to Windows 10. My main desktop is a 3year old HP, no issues with it works like the day I got it. I also have an Acer Laptop that is 7 years old, originally Vista, now Windows 7, working fine, but probably going to have to replace the hard drive or abandon the box soon, well probably not abandon it may run Linux off a USB drive... I also have an original Pentium 4 Dual Core that was Windows, and is now Linux. Why Linux instead of Win 7? Simply because it is a fun change of pace, and keeps my Linux skill alive since we don't have Linux in the office now.

Michael Montalto wrote:I'm not getting into this sort of conversation again because it's going to turn into a d*** measuring contest. You have my advice.
No need for vulgarity.

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Arduin
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Arduin »

koralas wrote:
Michael Montalto wrote:I'm not getting into this sort of conversation again because it's going to turn into a d*** measuring contest. You have my advice.
No need for vulgarity.
Correct but it's a last refuge for the person who has no logical argument left. But, I admit that it is odd for one who wanted to start measuring them to complain when the ruler didn't read favourably...

It is true that lack of malware for Apple computers is due primarily to its minuscule market presence. As malware is driven by financial motives it must replicate to as many like machines as possible. (even before virus writing was money motivated Apple presence in the ecosphere was insufficient to warrant the effort during the 90's) Thus, it is written for the largest base to ensure the highest remuneration.

The first major virus "outbreak" was in '81 if memory serves. It was written for the Apple II system. One of the first large internet worms originated with and infected a Unix server.
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Boniaer
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Re: Windows Computer setup advice and Virus Removal advice

Post by Boniaer »

Thanks for your share, that's really useful. My computer is always very card when I play games, do you have good suggestion?

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