PC has become too slow, changed browser homepage & default search, unwanted browser toolbars …
The other day some friend told me his PC had become quite slow and had all sorts of problems including ads popping up, etc. The main source of such problems nowadays in my experience is if one has allowed the PC to get infected by “malware”. Malware (malicious ware), is defined in Wikipedia as “… any software used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, gain access to private computer systems, or display unwanted advertising.” In the past, before malware became so common, a sufficient solution was in most cases cleaning the PC of junk, using programs like Ccleaner and defragmenting the hard disc. This is still something one should do and we show show you on this site how this can be done.
Here are some signs, however that show your PC may be infected, especially if the 2 processes do not help:
- one has additional problems like the internet browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome) settings getting suddenly changed and getting another homepage getting clogged with all sorts of toolbars, ads popping up, in case you had Google Search as the default search, this being replaced by some funny search engine
- having all sorts of programs which you may not remember installing
- the PC running much slower that it did before, quite likely because you have lots of these programs running in the background and sapping useful memory. An acquaintance’s laptop, although new with 4GB RAM, Windows 8.1, powerful processor would take probably an hour to start & get to the desktop & it did not even make sense to start Firefox, because it would take another eternity to load, let alone load a page after that it had become virtually impossible to use it.
What causes this problem that people keep getting?
Most people get this problem when installing new, often free programs and unknowingly accept the installation of additional software which may be or contain malware. When installing a program,
- DO NOT just click “next” without looking at what you are agreeing to. You certainly have to agree to the license & the destination folder, often C:/Program Files/… being suggested and in some cases a few other program-specific settings. You should look at the additional windows in the installation wizard.
- If you have a choice & sensible programs offer this, DO NOT choose “Express settings”. Instead choose the “Custom” or “Advanced” option. You will discover that behind express settings, some additional, totally unconnected & quite useless & harmful software is offered in addition. Unselect ALL such offers. Some programs offer one, some a number.
- DO NOT just install any program being offered because it is supposedly free. Do some research.
- Download programs like Adobe Flash player ONLY from the manufacturers page, in this case https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ (in this case also unselect the useless offer of => free McAfee Security Scan Plus, for the simple reason it just scans but does NOT remove its finds without you getting the paid version), and it has nothing to do with the player. Most people’s PCs have this program & they do not even know it or how it got installed. This particular one is NOT harmful but it useless & is an illustration of how people get harmful programs. The Adobe flash player itself, though MUST be kept up-to-date, because it is often used to smuggle dangerous code onto PCs. Choose Flash player settings for it to automatically update itself.
- DO NOT ever fall for blinking ads telling you you need this or that player to view some video. Once you install & keep up-to-date such a player as the VLC player or the K-Lite Codec Pack from free-codes.com, which comes with a free media player, you do not need any other player. These players can play just about any Audio/Video content of any type. When installing K-Lite Codec Pack, make sure you uncheck any offers of unrelated software.
- Also avoid clicking on any links in spam mails, which may be traps to install unwanted & harmful software, often without your consent.
- Keep ALL programs, including Windows up-to-date. Many people ignore alerts from Windows, Skype, Adobe reader, flash player, etc to update and just close them. Windows should be set to automatic updates.
Once you keep to this and also remember to always have an updated version of an antivirus program, you are unlikely to be affected by such problems.
Cleaning malware from infected PC
If the description above fits your problem, we shall show you in a number of articles how you get rid of that vermin and get your PC working again. The good news is, there are a number of free programs you can use. Some of this vermin is not the type that is dealt with by antivirus programs.
Use one of the following programs and if you feel something is still left, it does no harm installing and running another.
- Emsisoft Emergency Kit (free) (Read tutorial)
- After this, re-start the PC. The problems should be gone. You may have to do some additional cleaning though, like a full scan with the Antivirus. This can take some time, but it is worthwhile.
- Go to your browser, under settings (for Firefox => Tools => Add-ons, Google Chrome => Settings => Extentions) and check the add-ons or extensions. If any are left by the program, remove ALL you did not install.
- Under browser settings, go to “Search” and delete any funny Searches. I personally only tolerate Google, which I make the default search. Bing & Yahoo are also acceptable IF you like them.
- Change your browser Homepage to something like Google (www.google.com) or one of your choice, away from the one imposed by malware & which may not be that harmless, but may have its own search & links that may trigger a re-installation of junk.