RECOGNIZING COMPUTER VIRUSES AND OTHER MALICIOUS PROGRAMS...
Sometimes you may wonder why your computer is running so slow, where all the pop-ups come from or why some programs are not running correctly. Well there may be several reasons. First, your computer may be invaded with software (programs) that companies develop to investigate (in the background or backchannel) what your online habits are without your knowledge or permission. This type of software is known as spywares. In addition to spywares, there are other software applications in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. These applications include additional code that delivers ads to be viewed through pop-up windows or through a bar appearing on the computer screen or in the browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc).
Wait! There is more
Another reason why your computer may be running slow or abnormally is because of viruses, Trojan horse or worms. These programs, unlike spyware, are created just for the purpose of causing harm to your machine (computer). They can replicate and attached themselves to any files (sometimes system and other important files) and cause your computer to crash. Finally, in the worst-case scenario, some viruses can also damage the boot sector of your hard drive causing you computer to not be able to start. These are known as boot viruses.
But how do they get to the computer in the first place? There are several ways you can be infected with spywares, adwares, and other malwares. You can be affected by visiting malicious web sites or downloading software that sounds safe but carries a malicious payload; from malicious email, files you acquire via instant messaging software and file-sharing programs such as Kazaa, Morpheus, etc...
Get Rid of Them! A Brief Introduction
There are various software applications and virus removal software out there that promises a good job at cleaning but you should remain skeptical. Personally, I know a few of them such as Ad-Aware (a product, not to be confused with adwares) and SpyBot which are available freeware (you don’t have to pay to use them) amongst the few which deliver what they promised, they remove spywares.
As for viruses, you may want to purchase Norton Antivirus or McAfee Antivirus; however as newer viruses appear everyday, you continuously have to update the software in order to detect and remove any new ones that your machine may acquire. As a final alternative, if you don’t want to spend money buying any of these software, there is a very good and free removal tool that you can find online at http://housecall.trendmicro.com.
A final word for this first part, de-fragment your hard drive often if necessary and before throwing your computer away or spend a vast amount of money to have a technician to fix it, why not just fix the problem yourself. I will present some simple instructions in the next part on how to get started.