What do the professionals use to remove computer viruses?
February 21, 2014 12:18 PM   Subscribe

My father just got his WinXP machine back from a local computer shop. They ran five programs on it, found some viruses and removed them. What programs would they use for this, and can I, a mere amateur, acquire them myself?

Most interested in Win7 and XP solutions. Note that for protection, my father uses Norton; I however use Microsoft Security Essentials.
posted by Rash to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check out deezil's and samsara's profiles as really fantastic starting points.
posted by brainmouse at 12:20 PM on February 21, 2014 [21 favorites]

Malwarebytes is a popular one.
posted by fallingleaves at 12:35 PM on February 21, 2014

Microsoft will stop supporting XP in a couple months, so you're going to want to install a new OS on that computer ASAP anyway.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:45 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Malwarebytes is good. Also take a look at Microsoft's EMET.
posted by jquinby at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2014

Definitely deezil's and samsara's profiles as linked above.

Sometimes it's easier to remove malware when you're not actually running the infected OS so might also want to look at a bootable Linux environment that contains a scanner like the Bitdefender Rescue CD. It is free and quite easy to use. I've found it to be a good preliminary step before following deezil's procedures (especially if the malware is blocking access to the computer).
posted by sockpup at 12:52 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Brainmouse's advice is spot on. Well done, deezil and samsara!
posted by Silvertree at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

My name is deezil and I approve this message :)
posted by deezil at 2:00 PM on February 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Seconding paper chromatographologist. If you're interested in learning more about keeping computers secure, step 1 is getting your father's computer off of Windows XP. Support ends on April 8, and after that date, there will be no more security patches released for this nearly 15-year-old operating system. His Norton won't stop working at detecting viruses, but it will become much, much easier to get computer viruses in the first place after that point (potentially including, in extreme cases, viruses that can disable Norton).

Please communicate to him the need for updating his operating system, and anyone else you know who still uses Windows XP.
posted by wondercow at 3:57 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Coming into this one a bit late. I *finally* got around to editing my guide a bit and will try to keep it up with the times :) One thing I added that has had a very positive impact on negating fakeAVs in particular is Cryptoprevent. It's a utility that was originally designed to circumvent Cryptolocker infections, but also has the side bonus of blocking many types of malware that use the same infection method. I'd recommend it even if running as a standard user by default.

Of course, you've probably already moved on since this was from Feb. Hope the advice worked well for you! Remember, prevention is always greater than remediation!
posted by samsara at 4:24 PM on April 9, 2014

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