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Issue #135: February 21, 2010

Q: I read your column religiously every Sunday hopping to find an answer to my question but so far, no luck:  Trying to update my virus protection program  (AVG) from 8.5 to 9.0  it needs for me to remove Mcaffe scanner,  going to “ADD / REMOVE ” Programs does not help, the program is no where to be found.  My neighbor and some other people I know have had, or have similar problems.

– A. O.
Freeport, Fla

A: I’m pretty certain that reading my column doesn’t qualify as a religious activity, but I’ll tell you what.  Take the paper with you to church and we’ll call it even.   I answered a question very similar to yours in a column that ran back in 2007, and I see McAfee is still up to its old tricks.  The problem is that McAfee generally has a separate installer for each component of its software suite, which makes it quite difficult to get every piece of their software removed, particularly when it came pre-installed, and you’re not a Geek.  It sounds like you’ve already done the whole Add/Remove Programs thing, but before proceeding, try it one more time and look for anything with “McAfee” in the description.  If you’re sure you’ve uninstalled everything listed, you can try McAfee’s automated removal tool, which will eradicate all traces of a dozen different McAfee products.  You can download it by entering tinyurl.com/mzk9z in your browser.

Q: I understand there are a lot of virus attacks and I pay most bills on line. Would there be any benefit in shutting down my computer at night? 

– Ray S.
Destin, Fla

A: “Any” benefit?  Sure.  “Significant” benefit?  Probably not, Ray.  Malware and viruses generally do not spread on computers that aren’t being used.  By and large, malware infections occur when you’re actively operating the computer, and doing such activities as surfing the internet (and visiting an infected website), reading e-mails (and opening infected attachments, or communicating via social networking sites (and clicking on links that lead to tainted websites).  These are only a few examples.  In reality there are hundreds of different types of attacks, and millions of different rogue software entities that can corrupt your machine.  Also please notice the caveats I put on my statement.  I said “generally” and “by and large” because it is POSSIBLE for your machine to become infected even when you’re not using it if it is connected to the Internet.  However, that’s no more likely to occur in the middle of the night than it is in the middle of the day, so shutting off at night doesn’t provide much benefit.  As I’ve said before, the best protection is to have a reliable and up-to-date virus scanner on your system.  One that automatically keeps its virus signatures updated is best.  In fact, speaking of the middle of the night, that’s when my machines are configured to go get their updates and perform system scans, so that the machines aren’t busy scanning when I want to use them for other things.


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