How To Safely Scan Your PC For Malware

safely scan your PC for malware

Look out for malware

Is your PC running at a snail’s pace? Are you experiencing frequent pop-ups and weird goings on?

If so, it’s more than likely that your system has been infected by a virus, spyware or other nasty.

But I have antivirus; I hear you cry. OK, but that doesn’t mean your PC is entirely immune to the ‘bad guys’. It could be playing up because you have a hardware issue.

Either way, the following steps will help you discover if the cause is something more sinister.

Enter safe mode

First up, disconnect your PC from the internet.

Then boot into safe mode.

In most versions of Windows this is relatively straightforward, but if you’re using Windows 10, select you’re going to need a bit of help.

  1. Click the Start button, select the Power button but don’t click anything
  2. Hold down the Shift key and click Reboot
  3. When the full-screen menu appears chooseTroubleshooting, then Advanced Options, then Start-up Settings
  4. On the next window click Restart and wait for the next screen to appear
  5. Next, you will see a menu with numbered start-up options, select number 4 which is safe mode

If your PC runs faster in safe mode is could be a sign your system has a malware infection, or that you have a lot of legitimate programs that start up with Windows.

Get rid of temporary files

Once in safe mode, and before running a virus scan, delete your temporary files using the Disk Cleanup utility.

Download malware scanners

If you have an active antivirus program on your computer, use a different scanner for this malware check.

Remember, no antivirus program can detect 100% of malware.

If you think your PC is infected, use an on-demand scanner (e.g. BitDefender Free Edition, Malwarebytes, Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool etc.,) first and then follow up with a full scan by your real-time antivirus program.

Reconnect to the internet to download the on-demand scanner, but make sure your disconnect again before you start the scanning.

Run the setup file and follow the wizard to install the program. Once it has run, you’ll get a report on the start of your PC. If anything shows up, follow the program’s removal process. Then run a full scan with your real-time antivirus program to make sure it’s gone.

Take Care of Your PC – Inside and Out

emergency flash patch

 

We could write a lengthy post on the pros of taking care of the inside of your PC as well as the outside, but then again it’s easier to let a few pictures do the talking.

Below shows the internal workings of one of our client’s PCs  before and after MPM IT’s visit:

Before our maintenance visit                                    After our maintenance visit

This was after just one year! You soo, you don’t need to operate in a high-risk environment for your machine to get clogged up with dust.

If your machine is noisy, the fan is running (probably overtime) to keep your machine cool. The best thing you can do is book a maintenance visit to get your machine cleaned. It will keep your business running and increase the life expectancy of your PC.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Security Advice For New Computer Owners

New PC

 

Security isn’t always the first thing you think of when you get your first computer.

The excitement of getting it out of the box and working your way through the setup procedure is much more fun.

You can’t wait to get on the internet and besides, all that security stuff is just hype to get you to spend more money, right?

Wrong.

Online security threats are real, and if you don’t take it seriously, you could end up losing your data and watch your beloved computer slowly curl up and die.

Here are our top 10 tips for new computer owners. None of them are complicated, but they’re all important.

  1. Your computer is a sturdy piece of kit, but it’s not indestructible. It does like to be cleaned (see your computer’s guide), and it doesn’t like liquid or food
  2. Even though you write a document on your computer, it doesn’t mean it’s there forever, even if you save it – back everything up
  3. The best policy is not to trust anything that comes from the internet until it’s proven safe
  4. Saving is not automatic. If in doubt save it again
  5. The internet is a public entity. Only post things you’re happy for everyone in the world to know
  6. Don’t attempt any DIY fixes. If in doubt don’t touch your machine and get someone who knows what they’re doing (it will be cheaper in the long run)
  7. If you get a call from “Microsoft” hang up, it’s not them
  8. Get paid antivirus
  9. Set a strong admin password and use a non-admin account for everyday use
  10. Above all, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

If you follow those tips as you start to get to know your computer, you won’t go too far wrong.

Above all, take care of it, and it will take care of you.

 

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

How to Safely Remove a USB Drive

We’ve all done it – been impatient, or had somewhere else to be, so rather than waiting for the message to say it’s safe to remove the USB, we’ve pulled it straight out.

You may have been lucky and got away without causing any damage to your files or computer, but it’s always best to follow one of these methods of safe removal.

1. Window’s own tool

The best way to remove your USB is by using Window’s own tool.

Just click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the notification area, then click on your device and wait for the “Safe to Remove Hardware” message.

What happens if it says “This device is currently in use”?

Keep reading…

2. What to do next

Think about what could still be running – it could be a portable programme loaded from that drive, a document or photo that’s still open etc.

You can also open Task Manager (right-click task bar and select Start Task Manager) and take a look at both the Applications and Processes tab.

3. Third-party utility

You could also try a third-party utility such as USB Safely Remove, which tells you what programme is causing the problem (see number 2) and offers to stop the programme and even force it to stop.

4. Log off and on again

A bit annoying and time consuming, but by logging out of your account you’ll close down every file programme, including whatever is stopping the ejection of your USB.

5. Shut down

This one is more of a pain than number 4, but it never fails to work.

Shut down your PC, remove the USB and then reboot your computer.

It’s important you always take care when removing USBs and failing to do so safely can cause catastrophic damage to your PC or laptop.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Source: PCWorld

Opening Attachments in Outlook – Stopping Error Messages

When opening attachments directly in Outlook, have you received an error message?

It probably said something along the lines of needing to check the permissions on the folder in which you want to save it in.

Well that’s a bit of a red herring because the permissions are probably fine, it just means the folder is “full”.

How did it get so full?

Well, when you open an attachment within Outlook it first saves a copy to a subfolder of the Temporary Internet Files folder. Clearing out this folder should solve the problem.

Cleaning out the Outlook Secure Temp folder

Remember, this is IT so it’s not going to be as simple as it sounds.

The subfolder name Outlook creates (when it is first installed) in the Temporary Internet Files folder is random.

For example, in Outlook 2003 and earlier, it starts with OLK and followed by 4 random numbers or letters. In Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013 it’s called “Content”. Outlook and then has a subfolder identified by 8 random numbers and letters.

As if that wasn’t annoying enough, by default you can’t browse to the folder and clear it out.

However, getting to your Temporary Outlook Folder can be done following these 2 easy steps.

1. Step 1 – Locate the folder

It’s location is stored in the registry in the following key (dependent on which version of Outlook you’re using):

Outlook 97 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 98 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.5\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2000 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2002/XP HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2003 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2007 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2010 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\Security
Outlook 2013 HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Security

2. Step 2 – Get access to the folder

These steps will help you gain access to the folder:

  • Open the “OutlookSecureTempFolder” registry key from the location provided in Step 1
  • Copy the path from the key
  • Open Explorer
  • Paste the address in the Address Bar and press Enter

Thank you to Howto-outlook.com for these useful tips.

If you’re struggling, fear not, they’ve created 2 free tools to do the job for you:

OutlookTools offers besides locating, opening and cleaning up the SecureTempFolder also quite a lot of additional features to troubleshoot and tweak Outlook.

OutlookTempCleaner focuses only on dealing with the SecureTempFolder and can also be used in (corporate) login and logoff scripts to clean up the folder without any end-user interaction.

Outlook tool

OutlookTempCleaner can detect and empty Outlook’s Secure Temp folder automatically for you.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

What Do You Do When Your Computer Won’t Turn On?

Windows XP

We’ve all been there.

One day your computer’s working fine and the next it refuses to switch on.

What happened?

Did the techie gremlins sneak in over night and render your computer useless?

Probably not, but there are a number of things that could be preventing your Windows machine to boot up. Here are a couple of possible causes.

1. Nothing happens when you press the power button

In this case there’s almost certainly a problem with power getting to your PC, so the best place to start is your power cord.

Unplug the cord and check it for damage (if you find any replace it). If it looks OK plug everything back in, making sure they’re all firmly in their sockets, and try again. If you still get no joy try plugging something else into that power socket to see if the issue is there. If not, check the surge protector (assuming you have one) to make sure that hasn’t been inadvertently turned off.

If all of that’s OK your last option is to replace the power cord or AC adapter.

2. PC starts but fails before Windows can load

If this happens you need to go into your PC’s set-up programme to make sure your hard drive is recognised and in the boot sequence.

If another issue is causing you a problem it’s best to call in the experts rather than try to figure it out for yourself – you’ll save yourself a lot of time, frustration and, potentially, money.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Have You Got a Dusty Motherboard?

Dusty motherboard

 

 

 

 

 

Are you having trouble with your PC?

Is it refusing to run or reboot even though it’s getting power?

This was a problem presented to use by a client recently. The power input was good, but the PC just refused to come to life.

After removing the cover to the case the problem became clear. The motherboard was dusty.

After blowing out the dust, re-seating the memory and video card, the PC burst into life without a problem.

It’s a simple piece of maintenance, but one that often gets forgotten about. Make sure you add a motherboard check into your regular PC care plan and make sure dust doesn’t mess up your day.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

How to Clean Up Your PC and Improve Security

I bet there are lots of files and programmes on your PC that you no longer use. clean your pc

They could be free demos, games you no longer play, old Word documents, duplicated photos, the list is endless.

You might think that just because you’ve got about a terabyte of storage you don’t have to worry about it. But because your PC replies on unused storage to bolster your RAM, as your drive gets more and more crowded, your PC’s performance is affected.

But it’s not just the performance of your PC that you should worry about. If you have loads of programmes on it that you no longer use, they are also not being kept up to date, leaving your PC vulnerable to security threats.

In other words, you need to clean up your PC.

Getting shot of unused programmes

Removing programmes is a fairly simple procedure.

In Windows, go to the Control Panel, look under Programmes and click Uninstall a programme.

A window will appear displaying all the applications on your PC. By default, this is alphabetical, but you can also sort it by publisher, size, installed on…just by clicking the relevant column.

Getting shot of old and unused data

Are you a hoarder?

You’re not alone.

I’m the same – never wanting to throw something out because you never know when it might come in handy.

Unused and duplicated data can eat up space on your hard drive, slowing everything down.

But it’s easily remedied. Window’s built-in utilities, Disk CleanUp (Properties|General tab) and Defragment (Drive Properties|Tools) will help you identify redundant or unnecessary files that can safely be deleted and optimise the running of your drive.

Regardless of the amount of storage your PC has, don’t fill it to bursting point. If you no longer need or use a particular application, remove it and along with it any potential risk. By getting into the routine of regularly performing these simple housekeeping tasks, your PC will run smoother for longer.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.
Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos

How to Solve the 8 Most Common Tech Problems Yourself

Forget hanging on that tech support line for hours, if in doubt use the tried and tested method of restarting your computer. Miraculously, it solves a lot of issues.

But if it doesn’t do the trick, below are the top 8 tech support problems and how to solve them yourself.

1. Slow running computer

  • Check to make sure the problem is your computer – buffering videos and slow loading websites may not be down to your computer (it could be your broadband speed, which can be checked using Speedtest.net)
  • Check how much free space you have on your hard drive
  • Use Microsoft’s System Configuration tool and switch off any applications that launch automatically if not needed
  • Remove any programmes you no longer use and regularly use the disk clean up facility and defragment

2. Slow downloads

  • Again check your broadband speeds
  • Make sure you’re not inadvertently downloading something
  • If neither of these work it may be time to call your ISP

3. Constantly restarting machine

  • Make sure you’re not just experiencing a wave of Windows updates
  • Update all your critical system drivers (e.g. graphics card, network card, motherboard)
  • Clean up your machine as dust could be an issue
  • Check for viruses

4. Pop-ups

  • If your browser isn’t open, it could be adware – run a full scan with your anti-virus software, if it doesn’t find anything try Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free (disable your standard anti-virus first)
  • Search online for the name of the advertised product as this may lead you to solutions from other victims
  • If all else fails, do a complete system reinstall

5. Disconnecting Wi-Fi

  • Make sure your computer is in the range of your wireless router
  • Check your PCs wireless card has the latest drivers
  • Troubleshoot through Windows (right click the Wi-Fi icon in the taskbar and select troubleshoot problems)
  • If it doesn’t work, call your ISP

6. A problem with a website’s security certificate

  • This is probably caused by your computer’s clock because website security certificates sync with your computer’s clock – click the clock in the system tray and select change date and time settings to correct any issues

7. Printer won’t print

  • Check your drivers are up to date, you have enough paper and ink
  • Turn it off and on again
  • Unplug printer and plug back in again
  • Check your print queue
  • Make sure the ‘Use printer offline’ isn’t checked

8 Can’t open email attachements

  • Probably due to you not having the right software to open the file
  • Search the file’s extension to find the right programme

If none of these provide the solution you’re looking for, it’s time to pick up the phone and listen to the on hold music. Sometimes it’s easy to find a solution yourself, but then again there will be times when you’ll have to ask for help.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

What to do When Windows Won’t Let You Remove a USB Drive

On the face of it, removing a USB stick from your computer should be simple. Safely remove a usb drive

All you have to do is click the Safely Remove Hardware icon, wait until you get the “Safe to remove hardware” message and pull out your USB.

But users of Windows will know that it’s not always that straight forward.

Sometimes, just to be awkward, you’ll get this message: “This device is currently in use”, but of course, it won’t tell you what’s using it making it impossible for you to fix the problem.

So what do you do?

Well, you could throw caution to the wind and remove it anyway, but that could lead to lost files and crashed applications. Not good.

Or you could shut down your computer completely and then re-boot. Although that generally does the trick, it takes a long time.

But there is another option.

There’s a nifty bit of free software you can download called Unlocker.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the software, the next time Windows gives you that annoying message, all you have to do is right-click the drive and it will tell you which process is causing the problem. Then just click unlock.

Simple.

Now removing a USB drive will be simple – just like it should be.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.