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Issue #280: December 02, 2012

Q: I am using McAfee for my security and I am not impressed. I am now looking for the best free security software I can get. Please help I am not a computer geek and need all the help I can get. I also heard getting rid of McAfee can be a problem, any help with that would be also helpful.

Robert F.
Odessa, Texas

A: Ah, how the mighty have fallen, as they say.  Back in the day, John McAfee was one of the pioneers in combating what was then the little-known, and even less understood realm of computer viruses.  In the past few weeks, he’s better known for being on the run for suspicion of murdering his neighbor.  But the anti-virus software that bears his name still goes merrily on.  As you said, getting rid of McAfee can be a problem.  The software has the maddening habit of leaving pieces of itself behind when you tell it to uninstall.  These remnants will take up space on your machine, and might even occasionally pop-up a dialog to remind you to renew or purchase the software that you have already decided you don’t want.  Fortunately, there is a pretty simple way to rid your system of all traces of McAfee’s software, and surprisingly enough, it comes from the McAfee company.  It is a mystery to me why they can’t just do this when you use the regular uninstaller.  Visit to download their automated removal tool.

Like so many things involving personal computers, the choice of virus scanner is, well, “personal”, and there is no universal “best” for everybody.  I can tell you what I use on machines that I maintain, but I’m not saying these will be the best for you.  I’ve currently got the free version of Avast! installed on almost every PC under my control.  It’s fairly easy to set-up, seems to have a reasonably small footprint, and the virus definitions are automatically and quite frequently updated.  One note of caution: The software itself also gets updated now and again.  When it does, it forces you to reboot, and when the system comes back up it displays a web page “to complete the installation process”.  This page contains two check boxes, one of which will cause Google Chrome to be installed, and the other of which will cause your PC’s default web browser to be changed to Chrome.  If you don’t want these, be sure and uncheck them!

Q:  I bought a used HP 6500 All-In-One e709a printer which I fixed after it would not print in black. I hooked it up to a phone line to use the fax option, but when trying to send a fax, it is asking for a password.  I reset it to factory status but it still keeps asking for a password. Is there any way to remove password?

Dimas L.
Ft. Stockton, Texas

A:  Most electronic devices have hidden features built-in that are not published in the manual.  They are usually accessible through some combination of key presses, or by holding one or more keys down while powering on the device.  I just happen to own an HP All-In-One as well, although a different model than yours.  After experiencing a problem of my own with the fax, I contacted HP support.  A technician guided me through a process of pushing control panel buttons in a certain sequence which brought me to a hidden Service Options menu that allowed me to do a reset that is far different than the one done by simply powering off the machine.  I did some checking around, and found a similar feature for your model printer.  To activate it, do the following:  Turn the printer off.  Hold the printer’s # key and 6 key while turning the printer on.  This will perform a complete hard reboot and set everything back to the factory status, including the password.

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