Tips: Computer Survival…Taking care of your home computer, including bringing it back to life…

I’ve been helping friends and coworkers for years by fixing their computers, removing infections, and getting them working again. I thought I’d share the list of computer security tools I use, and have used, for a long time.[br]

(Side Note…I’ve been running computers, from tiny PCs, to room filling mainframes, since 1982. I do have college degrees in extreme computer geekiness….really. I’m just here to help…that’s all)[br]

The software listed below are all free for home use. Most have paid versions as well, but bottom line, they ALL work to keep your computer safe.[br]

Here’s the list of the tools I use on every computer in my house…with great success…[br]

Important Reminder ===> ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER DATA (pictures, software purchases, spreadsheets, word documents, etc. Use external drives, pen drives, or burn to CD or DVD ROM disks. I speak from experience. You do NOT want to lose your life’s memories to a bad guy. BACK STUFF UP…REGULARLY.[br]


AVG 2013 – (Free version)[br][br]

I’ve been using AVG for several years now. I’ve tried all the major antivirus tools. Norton and McAfee (or some variation) have come automatically on all my recent new computer purchases the last few years. I used Norton for quite a while as a paid tool, at $80 a year. Still got viruses on my computer…in other words, Norton slowed my system down AND let it get infected.[br]

McAfee…same thing. Never been worthy of LEAVING INSTALLED on a computer. Worse protection than Norton.[br]

Tried AVG…been VERY happy with it. It Just Works.[br]



A firewall keeps hackers out of most computers, but there are so many variations, besides the firewall that Windows already puts into every recent version of Windows.[br]

The stock Windows Firewall works, but doesn’t protect in several ways. Not going to go into detail, because we both don’t have the time.[br]

I used Zonealarm Free Firewall for a few years. It did the job. It let me know when any program I had installed tried to access the internet (an infected computer may sit for a long time, before it “calls home” which is the bad part about viruses). ZA did work.[br]

I kept looking, and eventually found Comodo, with a basic free version, that was actually better. Have used Comodo for 3 years now…no hacks into my home computers. It Just Works, too….[br]


No matter what tool you use to protect your computer system, there are thousands of ways to still get infected with viruses, worms, trojans, downloaded attachments, phishing schemes, brute force password hacks, and on and on and on… Sometimes well known websites can get hacked, and just visiting them can install malware on your computer completely unknown to you, until it’s too late.[br]

So….you’ll need a few extra tools to check your computer, and fix issues when they appear. You’ll need to do this at least once a month, more often won’t hurt.[br]

Waiting until you start seeing errors is not a good thing to do.[br]

Be proactive. Use tools to find vulnerabilities, and keep them in check.[br]

The following tools are the best I’ve seen. I’ve personally cleaned up hundreds of computers in the last 15 years, of all kinds of infections, including some that had completely made a computer unusable. One infection took me almost a week to get into before I could actually start removing the infection, and still save the computer from having to be completely reformatted or returned to factory fresh install (overwriting all your files you’d saved on the computer…therefore you lost them).[br]

These are listed by ease of use. You can run all three, but knowing how to deal with the resulting reports of infections does take some experience to make sure you don’t delete the wrong thing…[br]


This great program (free version) does a couple of things. First, running the IMMUNIZE function sets up your computer to NOT access thousands of known bad web addresses. One of the first things I install on my new computers.[br]

It also will check all your cookies and other browser areas for hidden problems, and once the scan is done, tell you what infections you have, and let you delete them all with a keystroke. The free version needs to be run manually, and updated before your run it.[br]


Has both free and paid versions, like all the above tools. This program is the single best tool I’ve found to fix and remove the worst infections of viruses and spyware, trojans and worms, and most other things. You need to run this at least once a month, and ALWAYS run it first when you have an infection.[br]

HIJACKTHIS (by TREND software).[br]

When all else fails (except Malwarebytes), this little tool will create a list of all programs that run when you first start your computer up. This is the time and place most infections hide themselves. HJT will list everything that runs at bootup, and when you see something that’s a problem, it can disable that program/whatever from running.[br]


It can disable NEEDED windows software. Run the program but DON’T delete anything until you’ve had someone (like me) REVIEW the LOG.[br]

There are many other tools for specific computer cleanup, that I have  used, that are for very specific jobs in cleaning up a computer system. For example, if you’ve been using Norton’s security software, you can’t completely remove it if you upgrade and change to a different antivirus tool. You actually have to find, download, and run a program that REMOVES Norton completely.[br]

Why a huge and vastly popular WON’T let you remove it without a fight, should tell you that the software really does have many other failings.[br]

Another tool, Stinger …[br]

…is just such a tool. It is used for specific problems. However, the full McAfee antivirus program has never worked completely for me, and has shown me more than once failure to completely protect and find some infections. I speak from experience. Again, being proactive about your computer security, keeping your software and virus signatures updated, and running your protection programs REGULARLY is what will keep your computer running smoothly in the long run.[br]


I’ve been using the above tools for several years now, and have NOT lost a computer, nor any data, to virus or other infections.[br]

Each program does one thing, and does it well. Tools like Norton say they can do it all, but rarely can, without impacting your computer’s speed and processing power.[br]

Hope this get’s you going on resolving any issues you might have on your computer.[br]

Let me know if it helps.[br]



P.S.  On my Facebook Wall, Julie Samuelson posted a link to a computer software tool that supposedly helps keep computer systems clean. Here’s what she said.[br]

— As a fellow computer technician, I agree with every product recommendation from Rich!! The only one I would add is IOBit due to its tools and the fact that it finds and repairs stuff that the rest do not. An added bonus is that it plays nicely with the rest of the kids.[br] –[br]

After downloading, and seeing the licensing agreement, I say STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS SOFTWARE.[br]

Look at the screen grab of the license. To use it, you MUST agree to install a toolbar in several browsers, half a dozen browser extensions (ALL are CRAP…these things are EXACTLY what you DON’T want to be ADDING to your computer and/or browsers!!!!), and change your default search engines to Yahoo…as well as set your Homepage and Startup page to Yahoo. This is absolute BULL SHIT.[br]

Any tool, that REQUIRES you to ADD “Ad supported extensions”, is NOT your friend. It’s malware, spam-ware, adware, and all kinds of wares you’re trying to AVOID IN THE FIRST PLACE.[br]

NONE of the software I mentioned in my post above require ANY kind of adware/toolbars, etc. NONE. Again, avoid so called “helpful” tools like “Advanced Systemcare” like the PLAGUE![br]

Updated: March 17, 2013 — 1:47 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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