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Issue #169: October 17, 2010

Q: I have Dell Vostro 1700 with Vista, and added McAfee Security System at time of purchase, 9/2008, as well as Webroot SpySweeper. Over the past month, multiple updates seem to be crashing my computer.  I have been able to Restore back to some semblance of a working system but it is very slow and continues at times to be unable to start. The Webroot came up for renewal and I downloaded and installed it, and that seems to have completely stopped everything. On top of this the Windows Security keeps telling me I am not fully protected but I don’t see how that is possible.

Do I have conflicting programs that are all blocking each other? Should I just uninstall all external security programs and go only with the Windows? 

– Carol P.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: First things first, Carol.  Under absolutely no circumstances do I recommend having a PC that hooks up to the Internet left protected only by the little pittance of security that Microsoft chose to build into its operating system.  By all means, you should enable what Microsoft has provided, which includes the Windows Firewall (unless you own 3rd-party firewall software), Windows Security Center (i.e. – “Windows Defender” as it used to be known), and the “Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool” which arrives with automatic updates about once a month.  Besides these, you always need – at a minimum – a good anti-virus scanner, and it must include real-time scanning of files being accessed, the ability to perform periodic scheduled scans of the entire system, and receive automatic updates of virus signatures to keep it current.  If you use Internet Explorer, you should also enable tools provided there, such as pop-up blocking, and the anti-phishing filter.  As for your question about Windows Security, there should be more information available than it just telling you that you’re not fully protected.  It should also tell you WHY it is telling you that.  Dig deeper into the error message, and you will find more information.  My guess is that either one of the tools I mentioned above is not enabled, or the subscription has run out.  That you purchased McAfee in the month of September 2008, and it is now the month of October, and this has been going on for about a month is highly suspicious to me.  Once you’ve narrowed the problem down to its cause, the solution should become obvious.  If not, please write again, and include a screenshot of the error.

Q:  I have a friend whose laptop just started to overheat and shuts down.  What can cause this and is there anything I can do to fix it?

Adrian W.
Crestview, Fla

If it has always operated at a normal temperature, and is just now starting to overheat, it seems pretty obvious that something has gone awry with the laptop’s cooling mechanisms.  Since the problem started somewhat abruptly, the likely cause is that an internal fan has failed, or the system has simply become clogged with dust and needs a good cleaning.  The first thing you should check is the case’s vent holes to ensure they are free of obstructions.  How you proceed beyond that depends on a lot of things, including remaining warranty on the laptop, since breaking the seal by opening the case will almost certainly void the manufacturer’s warranty.  If you are not up to the task of opening the case and working inside, your best bet is to take it to a professional.   If you are up to it, then get in there and give it a good cleaning, and if there are non-operating fans, contact the manufacturer for replacement parts.

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