As a professional IT outsourcing company, Aldridge comes face to face with anti-virus, virus removal, and spyware removal problems every day. Over the years, we’ve had a chance to play with a vast array of tools and programs designed to solve these problems. Obviously, some virus removal tools are better than others. Today we talked with our tech support team and came up with a list of the top 5 completely free virus recovery tools.

Anti-Virus Software

The one thing our entire tech support team agreed on was that the best way to deal with viruses is to stop them before they get a chance to infect your computer. To do this, you need quality anti-virus software – and that software has to use the most up to date virus definitions. If you’re still using the McAfee trial install from three years ago when you first got the computer, or worse, not using anything at all, you are leaving yourself open to all sorts of nasty viruses. You can get a lot of really good anti-virus software packages online for free. AVG, Avast, and Avira are the most commonly used free anti-virus software packages. All three have made a name for themselves in the anti-virus arena and all three have loyal followings (even here in the office). That said, the anti-virus software we use here at The Aldridge Company is the corporate version of AVG. AVG proactively protects computers against viruses, spyware, and identity theft. We like it for three reasons: 1) the corporate version is cheaper than Norton or McAfee (and the personal version is completely free), 2) it uses less system resources than other virus scanning programs – meaning that your computer will be faster when you use it instead of other virus software –and 3) because it just works. Click here to download the AVG personal version for free. If you are looking for low-cost, high quality virus protection for a business, call us at 832-209-2940. Aldridge is a proud reseller of AVG.

Virus Removal

Unfortunately, even the best anti-virus software isn’t 100% effective. Whether you accidently open something (oops!) or the virus is just attacking from an angle so new none of the programs have created an update for it yet, viruses will sometimes get through your first line of defense. When your anti-virus software fails, what you need is a virus removal tool. We won’t lie to you and say it is a magic bullet, but MalwareBytes is easily our hands-down favorite application when it comes to virus removal. There are some situations where manual fixes have to be applied, but 95% of the time, if you have a virus, MalwareBytes can quash it. Using MalwareBytes to execute a virus removal is pretty straight forward. Once you have installed and updated it, it is just a matter of running a full scan, rebooting, and repeating until the virus is gone. Click here to download MalwareBytes for free.

Spyware Removal

As awesome as MalwareBytes is though, it focuses entirely on viruses and malware that affect the way your computer operates. When your problem is with spyware instead of viruses, the tool we like to use is SUPER Anti-Spyware. If you are worried about people snooping on you while you are online or installing a bunch of toolbars you don’t want or people changing your home page or anything of that sort, this program will find and eliminate those types of threats. That said, while SUPER AntiSpyware is completely free to download and run when you suspect your computer has a problem, it is not active protection against spyware. If you are willing to spend a few bucks on it though, the professional version includes useful things like automatic updates, automatic scanning, and active browser and registry protection. Click here to download SUPER Anti-Spyware for free.

Browser Hijacks

One of the most common symptoms of viruses is the browser hijack. The victim of a browser hijack has addresses and search terms they enter into the browser redirected to other sites like porn, paid advertisers, or sites that try to con the user out of money. One of the worst parts about browser hijacking is that the damage tends to linger even after the virus itself is removed. To fix this problem, you need to get a copy of HijackThis. HijackThis goes through the parts of your system that are vulnerable to change and lists every single entry in them that is not a default setting. This means that any changes made by viruses to your registry or to certain key files will be listed and you will be given the option to delete them. That said, this program is not for novice users. It will list EVERY change to your system – even legitimate changes your computer needs to function – and deleting the wrong thing can get you into trouble. Fortunately, HijackThis has a great community. If you take the log file of your scan results and post it to their forums, more advanced users can tell you what is and is not supposed to be there and will help you get back on track. Click here to download HijackThis for free.

Data Backup & Data Recovery

The last thing to remember about computers is that, virus or no virus, they eventually fail. The absolute best thing you can do to ensure that your files are safe is to back them up (and backup often). One of the worst case scenarios when dealing with viruses is that the computer will have to be wiped completely clean and the user will have to start over from scratch. To prevent that from happening, we like to use NTBackup. NTBackup has a couple of really good things going for it: It is free, if you use Windows it’s already installed on your computer, it is easy to use, and it’s an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to create a backup (or schedule a backup) for an entire computer with a few clicks. NTBackup is the sort of tool everyone should make use of so that, if the worst should ever occur, you can lose as little work as possible. NTBackup comes pre-installed on many versions of Windows. If you don’t have it, you can get it free from Microsoft if you have a genuine copy of Windows installed on your PC by clicking here.