TrendMicro sponsors a free virus scanner on the web called HouseCall. It's URL is http://housecall.antivirus.com. Bookmark this page and come back to it often. This is not a run all the time scanner but an in depth run once scanner. It won't catch everything, but this is a decent scanner for emergency problems and second opinions.
If you have an existing virus scanner running, these two may fight. In that case, temporarily shut down the existing scanner. See the bottom section of this document for my preferred scanners.
TrendMicro often changes the web site around, so you may have to think a little to apply these instructions to the newer versions. All virus scanners do just about the same thing in the same order. Learn one and you've learned most of them.
* You should be logged in as Administrator to do this otherwise a common user won't have rights to certain files.
* Open Internet Exploiter and go to the site. ...yeah I'd rather use Mozilla but I've had trouble with the java versions in the past.
* If you are asked to accept any cookies from the site, you must accept them. If there are any spam and spy sites, those cookies can be safely blocked.
* Look for the download option, click it, and select "run" from the pop up window. If you know your operating system is 64bit, then choose that to download, otherwise choose 32bit. Downloading and setup will take a little while.
* When the program window finally pops up, choose "Settings" and make sure "Full System Scan" is selected. If you aren't on a HIPAA or overly lawyered system, leaving "Smart Feedback" enabled is fine. Hit the "OK" button and "Scan" button.
* If there is an "Auto Clean" option, select it. (This seems to come and go).
* A full scan can take awhile, especially on a fat system. Give it an hour or two to complete. Various stats will be shown in the scanning window as it progresses. At this point it's best to walk away and come back later.
* Various TrendMicro ads will come up offering their other products. Ignore them. They aren't that great.
* If a virus is found, it will show up in the "HouseCall" window. Try to hit the "Clean" button if you can... but if you were able to turn on "Auto Clean", nothing will happen. In reality some virus files ARE the virus. You cannot clean the file that is the virus. The only option is to hit the "Delete" button and remove it. In a very rare case you may recognize the virus file as part of another program. If so, you may have to remove that program and reinstall it to restore the file. In even rarer cases, the installer for that program may be infected from the beginning.
* When the virus scan finishes, it will pop open a little confirmation window. Close it appropriately. Close the the "HouseCall" window and confirm it.
* The virus scan is now complete. If you had a cleanable virus and are overly paranoid, you may want to totally POWER DOWN your system (reboot doesn't always clear everything like it should) and run these steps again. Otherwise you are finished.
Spyware are programs that keep tabs on you and your system, many times without you even knowing. Benign spyware typically just keeps track of program usage. Malicious spyware may look for keyboard strokes (like logins and passwords), financial information (checking accounts, credit cards, social security numbers), and could even steal media (trashing your upload rates). Nearly all spyware is unlawful... even if they tell you about it buried in the fine print. It's the same thing as someone coming into your home and setting up a camera to watch ANY and EVERYTHING you do... and then giving it to ANY and EVERYONE they know. If that isn't a privacy violation, I don't know what is.
LavaSoft has a free personal version of their spyware scanner at http://www.lavasoft.com. If the LavaSoft site asks for too much, http://www.download.com has a simpler downloader. Look for it in the bottom right top-20 list as "Ad-Aware Free..." and follow the download instructions.
LavaSoft often changes the program around, so you may have to think a little to apply these instructions to the newer versions. All spyware scanners do just about the same thing in the same order. Learn one and you've learned most of them.
* Look for the "Ad-Aware Personal", "Download Now", or "Download Free" link on the page. This is the free for home use version. Follow the instructions to download it.
* Once the file downloads, run it to install the program. You should be logged in as Administorstor for this part. Do not install any tool bars or Chrome. Only the core program is needed. Don't give them your email unless you want to be on their spam list. A reboot will be required after installation.
* Run the program. You should be logged in as Administrator to do this otherwise a common user won't have rights to certain files.
* Look for the "Updates" button and hit it. Checking will be slow. Follow whatever instructions are given. Once updates are downloaded, hit the "Finished" button to return to the main screen. ALWAYS do this each day you run it.
* If there's an option buried in one of the advanced menus to "Scan Within Archives", select it.
* Hit the scan button at the top of the screen to select the scan window. Hit the button that says "Full Scan". Once this starts, it could take an hour or three.
* When it finishes, a list of all the problems will come up. A few items in the list might need to be left alone. If that is the case, select them, right click, and select the ignore option (some newer versions break this). Some newer versions also auto-quarantine and won't allow for manual removal.
* Click the "Done" button to finish. It will come back to the main startup screen.
* Ad-Aware Live might still be running in the background. Right click on its icon in the tool bar and hit exit to reclaim system resources.
* If you are really paranoid, cold boot your computer and run all this again.
A full time virus checker loads when your computer starts and offers continual protection from most problems. The trade off is that the computer will run slower with the added overhead of the virus scanning. For most end user systems, this is what I recommend to do.
Download.com has the 2 most preferred scanners by my peers on their front page, bottom right top-20 list. Download and install AVG or Avast (but not both). If any other full time virus scanners are already installed, they must be removed first (such as Norton or Symmantec, these are near useless anyways and cause more problems than they prevent).
For the common person, don't install the tool bar if it is offered. Just installing the basic program is generally enough and won't mess with other settings a virus checker shouldn't touch to begin with.
Once the virus checker is installed, make it run a manual program and rules update to make sure it will catch all the latest viruses.
Once the update is done, do a full/deep/long virus scan of the computer. This is often hidden in an advanced menu somewhere. Make sure all the local hard disks are selected and that scanning inside of archives is enabled. Deep scans can easily take 1-2 hours on a fat system.
If a virus is found, follow the instructions for quarantine or removal. Some viruses will irrecoverably damage the operating system and cannot be easily removed. The Windoze install/repair CD will be required. Make sure to back up all personal data as these are known to sometimes wipe the ENTIRE system.