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Durban - Malware (malicious software) is a real pain in the proverbial. Whether it’s the nasty stuff that includes viruses and similar threats or more benign junk such as adware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), malware causes all sorts of problems and wastes system resources.

When these are in short supply, for example on a PC that is getting a little outdated, performance takes a nose-dive. This week, I’ll cover two free tools to help you scan your PC for malware and PUPs. In most cases, they will be able to detect and completely remove any suspicious files or programs.

Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes Antimalware from www.malwarebytes.com is the utility I turn to first to battle malware, viruses, unwanted browser toolbars, PUPs and just about any other software that causes problems.

The free version capably removes most malware infections and complements existing antivirus software, but doesn’t offer “real-time” detection against any new issues and therefore is not an antivirus replacement.

If you opt for the Malwarebytes premium version (circa R600 annual subscription, multi-buy offers available) then the software does function as a full anti-virus solution in addition to its antimalware capabilities. When installing the free version, a 14 day trial of the premium product starts - after this expires, the product reverts to its free mode and can still be used to remove any new infections or issues.

Installation of Malwarebytes couldn’t be easier. Simply browse to their website and click on the “Pricing” tab. Ensure the “Personal” tab is selected at the top, then click the green “Download Now” button in the Malwarebytes Free section.

Save the file to your computer, then run it. Malwarebytes installs and launches ready to start a scan. Once this completes, a list of any threats detected is presented.

I usually simply select them all and click the “Quarantine” button, then restart the PC. Usually, this deals with the problem, but if you find you’ve removed something you actually need or Malwarebytes has incorrectly categorised a program as junk (which is rare, but possible) the file can be removed from quarantine and restored to its original location.

A detailed installation guide, plus further information on how to use Malwarebytes is available on their support site at https://tinyurl.com/MBAMguide2018 .

Spybot: Another anti-malware tool that is worth trying, if you’re trying to rid a computer of a tenacious malware issue is Spybot from https://www.safer-networking.org. Spybot used to be known as Spybot Search and Destroy and is a veteran in the fight against malware. You can access install guides and support for all of Spybot’s features via https://tinyurl.com/sbsupport2018 which links to their support site.

The Mercury