Your software swiss-army knife?
July 19, 2007 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a list, recommendations or an all-in-one package of must-have applications for a windows repair software toolkit.

Often I'm asked by friends, family and customers to help them with their PC. Invariably they have a spyware-ridden Windows PC with a dozen system tray icons.

Also, a lot of the time there seems to be some attempt at securing the system with different firewall applications, anti-spyware and anti-virus but most of them are completely ineffective because they are just useless or haven't been updated and only serve to further hinder the performance of the system.

So what I'm looking for is the "must-haves", the best of breed, for the big three - firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware. Obviously free is best - most of these are for personal computer users so "free for personal use" is fine. Ideally these applications will be light and do the job well.

I'm also looking for some really useful applications I can keep on my USB stick to diagnose common issues or in general useful utilities to help me with any issues I might run into.

I have done some googling and have a good idea of the things I may need but I'm sure a lot of the mefites get plonked into the "computer guy" role and I'm especially interested on the recommendations you can give me on whats worked for you!
posted by puddpunk to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
For Spyware:
Ad Aware
Spybot S&D

or Trendmicro Housecall for a good virus scan without having to install any software

Wouldn't hurt to have a bootable knoppix cd to get rid of pesky viruses.
posted by rancidchickn at 2:58 PM on July 19, 2007

posted by desjardins at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2007

Brian Kato's 'Restoration' undelete utility.
posted by snarfodox at 3:20 PM on July 19, 2007

Response by poster: Which is better, AVGrisoft or Avast!? I think Avast requires you to re-register it (for free) every 12 months or so, does AVG require you to do that? Are there any major features that AVG is lacking? Which performs better?
posted by puddpunk at 3:33 PM on July 19, 2007

I'll stand by what I said in the previous thread re: Avast, and also mention Startup Monitor if the people in question have even the slightest clue.

I don't bother with a firewall for anyone who would need me to install one for them, since, well, most of them are rubbish without training. (What you say, RealPlayer, you would like to phone home?) For personal use, I use Sunbelt/Kerio Personal Firewall, on the "chattiest" mode.
posted by anaelith at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2007

Often I'm asked by friends, family and customers to help them with their PC. Invariably they have a spyware-ridden Windows PC with a dozen system tray icons.

You need to boot first with a clean system, either Windows or Linux based!

Option 1:
Create your own bootable windows CD

Or, better:

Option 2:
use Knoppix
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:47 PM on July 19, 2007

my #1. TuneUp Utilities
posted by mphuie at 5:43 PM on July 19, 2007

bart pe loaded with network drivers, firefox (so you can update tools and run an online virus scan) and all of the above mentioned spyware removal tools is my prefered way of cleaning pc. after running through the spyware removla tools in bart pe be sure to do it again in windows to clean the registery.
posted by phil at 7:21 PM on July 19, 2007

One of the most overlooked aspects is a router: it is a great hardware firewall that provides protection without slowing your system down (unlike software firewalls). Many folks that have heavily infested PCs plug straight into their modem. Of course, the router itself needs to be configured and secured, not just left with default settings.
posted by SciGuy at 8:44 PM on July 19, 2007

AntiVir was pretty high on the list. Hijack this and spybot are good.

I second the hardware router. I've never let anyone who asks me for tech help plug a computer directly into broadband. Sooner or later they'll turn off a software firewall, or it won't start up, or it will fail to update.

Understand how to use the recovery console, including fixboot and fixmbr.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:55 AM on July 20, 2007

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