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My five favorite virus and malware removal tools

Having your computer get infected with a virus or malware can be an actual stressful situation. And finding software that can remove the infection can be even more stressful. So here are my five favorite virus and malware removal tools.

My five favorite virus and malware removal tools

As a computer repair technician, I have used many different tools over the years to remove viruses, malware, and adware. I have seen plenty of software that works like a charm, only to be bought out by their competitor or never updated.

Now some programs have withstood the test of time. Some of them you have to install fully, some you just download and run. But all of the programs listed here have been around for several years.

Anti-virus programs

The AV Test user interface

I get asked quite often about what anti-virus software I recommend. This is a tricky question to answer because there are so many decent free and paid AV programs out there.

I suggest checking some of the independent anti-virus review sites and see what is recommended. I personally like AV Test as they review only anti-virus and security software.

Windows 10 does include an AV program called Windows Defender, and it does rank pretty high, but it does have a limited feature set. If you are looking for AV software with a bunch of bells and whistles, Windows Defender may not be what you are looking for.

One of the first things you may want to do is check and see if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides a branded version of AV software. Sometimes you can get a complete security suite from your ISP for free.

But remember that the majority of AV programs look for viruses and malware, not adware or junkware. That is why I use several different programs for cleaning up an infected computer.

AV Test

AdwCleaner

The AdwCleaner user interface

When it comes to cleaning up a compromised Internet browser, nothing beats AdwCleaner. It can find the most hidden malicious browser extensions and reset your network adapter all at the same time.

AdwCleaner requires no installation; just download and run. It also does not require an Internet connection but will download program and database updates if it can connect to the Internet.

AdwCleaner

Malwarebytes

The Malwarebytes user interface

As the name implies, it does a great job of finding and removing malware. It is also fantastic at finding and eliminating Probably Unwanted Programs (PUP) and junkware.

This program does have to have an Internet connection to complete its installation, and it is configured in a full 14-day trial mode. You can deactivate the trial license and just run it when you want to perform a scan.

The only thing I do not like about it is that it sets itself to start with Windows automatically. You can easily change this by right-clicking on the Malwarebyte icon in the Taskbar and deselect Start with Windows.

Malwarebytes

SUPERAntiSpyware

The SUPERAntiSpyware user interface

This program is excellent at finding those pesky little cookies that browsers seem to collect. It also does an excellent job of finding and removing PUPs and junkware.

This program does require full installation but does not need Internet access to complete the install. The full version does have some cool features, but if you are just trying to clean up your system, the basic version will work.

SUPERAntiSpyware

Microsoft Safety Scanner

The Microsoft Safety Scanner user interface

The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a stand-alone scanner, just download and run. It does a fantastic job of finding malware that has dug itself deep inside of Windows.

It does have only three options: Quick Scan, Full Scan, and Customized Scan. The Quick Scan looks in areas of Windows that are most likely to contain viruses, spyware, and malware. The Customized Scan is similar to the Quick Scan but allows scanning of a user-specified folder.

The Full Scan does just that; it scans every file on your computer. This is the most thorough scan but can take hours or even days to complete. But if you are looking for something that may be deeply embedded in Windows, this is the type of scan you want to perform.

Now the Microsoft Safety Scanner is time-stamped and will only run for ten days after you download it, so you will need to download a new version every time you want to perform a system scan.

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Some of my favorite programs for performing computer diagnostics are the kind that you just download and run. These applications are simple to use and can be deleted when I am finished with them. So here are some of my favorite portable programs for Windows 10.

Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Since I repair computers for a living, I use many different programs during my typical workday. Most of them I can store on USB drives for quick access.

But there are some programs that I like to download before I use them, as they are portable applications and do not require installation. Since they do not get installed, the only way to get the latest updated version is by downloading them.

Some of these programs have time stamps on them and will expire after a certain amount of time. So downloading them when I need them makes the most sense. The hardest thing about downloading them is remembering where you saved them.

All of the applications mentioned in this are article can run on any version of Windows currently supported by Microsoft. And the best thing of all is that they all are free to use.

CPU-Z

Portable program - CPU-Z

This is a convenient utility that displays the details of the installed processor, motherboard, memory, and graphics card in any given computer. This way, you do not have to disassemble a computer to determine what components it has installed.

CPU-Z comes in handy when you are looking to add or upgrade your computer's memory modules. I use it when a customer wants to upgrade the installed memory, as it displays the exact part number of all of the installed memory modules.

There are portable (ZIP) and installable (EXE) versions of CPU-Z and versions customized for particular motherboard vendors. If you are going to use CPU-Z to measure system performance between different BIOS settings, the installed version may be the best bet.

But if you are only going to run it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work quite well. All you have to do is extract the files inside of the ZIP archive, and you are ready to go.

For more information on CPU-Z, just follow the link below.

CPU-Z

Advanced IP Scanner

Portable program - Advanced IP Scanner

Have you ever added a new device to your network and then could not find it? That is where Advanced IP Scanner comes in handy. It can scan your network and find network devices, shared folders, and shared printers. You can even use it to access other network computers remotely.

Advanced IP Scanner can be installed or run as a stand-alone program. When you download the program, it comes as an EXE file. When executing it, you have the option of installing it or just running it.

If you are only going to use it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work. If you are going to use it regularly, you may want to perform a complete installation.

For more information on the Advanced IP Scanner, follow the link below.

Advanced IP Scanner

Adwcleaner

Portable program - Adwcleaner

This is by far my favorite tool for cleaning up Internet browsers. Just download and run Adwcleaner to remove adware and PUPs (Probably Unwanted Program) from your favorite browser.

Unlike the rest of the programs in this article, when Adwcleaner downloads its latest database, it also checks for a new version of itself. It will download an updated version but does not remove the previous version. It has to be removed manually.

Besides cleaning up browsers, it will also clean up and reset the TCP/IP network stack back to the default settings. And if you only need to run it a couple of times, it can delete itself and all of its quarantine files.

For more information on Adwcleaner, follow the link below.

Adwcleaner

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Portable program - Microsoft Safety Scanner

When it comes to scanning for viruses and malware, Microsoft's Safety Scanner is a powerful utility. Even though the user interface is kind of sparse, the true power is built into it.

Since this program is updated on a pretty regular basis, you will defiantly want to download it when you are ready to perform a scan. Keep in mind that this program is date stamped and will run only for ten (10) days after it was downloaded.

There are only a couple of choices regarding the types of scans it will perform; Quick, Full, or Customized. Be warned that if you choose a full scan, it can take hours or even days to complete, depending on how much data your drive(s) contains.

Remember that the Microsoft Safety Scanner is for manually scanning for malware and viruses and does not replace the need for a full-time anti-virus program.

For more information on Microsoft's Safety Scanner, follow the link below.

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Sysinternals Suite

Portable program - Sysinternals Suite

With over seventy utilities, Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite has the most extensive set of diagnostics tools. Sysinternals have been around for more than two decades and have become a staple in computer technicians' toolbox.

Every single program in the suite is a stand-alone program and does not require installation. You can download the complete suite of utilities in a single ZIP file or a single utility separately; it is your choice.

Now you have to remember that the Sysinternals Suite does not automatically update any of its programs. But there are script files out there that can download updated files.

There is also the Sysinternals Live service that allows you to run the tools directly from the web. That way, you will always have the latest and greatest version of any of the utilities.

For more information on Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite, follow the link below.

Sysinternals Suite

My digital toolbox

Every computer repair technician has a digital toolbox, more than likely several. They are either on a CD / DVD or USB drive and contain programs that we use regularly. Here are a few of the programs that I have in my digital toolbox.

My Digital Toolbox

All of the following programs have one thing in common; they don't require installation. Just right-click on them in File Explorer and select Run as administrator, that's it. Some of the programs may require access to the Internet for complete functionality.

AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner is one of the best stand-alone adware removal tools I have found yet. Right out of the box, and it will scan your system with a generic set of definitions. But if you are connected to the Internet before you start up AdwCleaner, it will download a current copy of adware definitions. And if you select uninstall, it will remove any quarantined files and then delete itself.

AdwCleaner

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

When it comes to resolving .NET problems, you are sometimes better off just removing and reinstalling the framework. The .NET Framework Cleanup Tool is a stand-alone program that does just what its name implies. Just pick the version you wish to remove (or all) and click Cleanup Now. Once it is complete, reboot and use Windows Update to reinstall whatever version of .net framework you need.

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals is hands down, the best collection of Windows troubleshooting tools. All of them are stand-alone programs, over 70 altogether from seeing everything that automatically starts up with Autoruns, exploring running processes with Process Explorer, or monitoring network usage with TCPView. When it comes to Windows diagnostics, you cannot beat the Sysinternals Suite.

Sysinternals Suite

Clean up your Internet browser with AdwCleaner

Updated September 24, 2020

I've been doing virus/malware removal for a while now and have seen many different types of infections. The latest trend is to target your Internet browser. Whether it is Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge, it can get compromised. One of the best programs I've found to clean up Internet browsers is AdwCleaner by Malwarebytes.

The main screen inside of AdwCleaner
The main screen inside of AdwCleaner

Browser exploits have been around for a while now. Who hasn't had their home page changed or have a mysterious toolbar appear when they opened up their browser? AdwCleaner is the perfect tool for getting all of that junk out of your browser(s).

The settings screen inside of AdwCleaner
The settings screen inside of AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner works great for removing adware, PUP's (Potentially Undesirable Program), unwanted toolbars, and home page hijacking. It can also clean up all Internet settings and reset your network adapter(s) back to their default state. And when AdwCleaner is finished cleaning your computer, it will restart it.

AdwCleaner is a stand-alone program (requires no installation) except for the quarantine folder and a few registry entries it creates. Just download it to your computer, and you are ready to go. And you can uninstall it right from the main user interface. Best of all, it's free.

For more information on AdwCleaner, follow the link below.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner

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