Melvin wants to know what's the difference between Windows Defender and Windows Security Essentials. Leo says that Defender is the Windows 8 version (although there is an older version of Defender that's before Windows 7, very confusing). For Windows 7, he advises staying with Security Essentials. But if Melvin wants to pay, Eset's Nod 32 is far superior.
Steve has a Mac and wants to know if he really needs an antivirus utility. Leo says that the bad guys have slowly begun to write exploits to take advantage of the Apple platform. This wasn't the case a few short years ago, but as Windows users have gotten better at locking down their systems, the hackers have to go somewhere. So the short answer is yes.
Leo recommends Eset's CyberSecurity for the Mac. (Disclaimer: ESET is a sponsor).
Leo says no, it's fine. Unless he has Microsoft Security Essentials, then he should uninstall that first. Competing AVS software don't play well together. (Disclaimer: ESET is a sponsor).
Laurie downloaded some tax documents from DocStock.com and now she's having a variety of problems on her computer. Leo says that docstock.com is a legit site, but it's possible their website got hacked or a malformed PDF was installed onto the site. The strange tool bar in her browser is a bad sign.
Laurie could get someone to remove it (and she's tried), but it's likely there's other stuff going installed and going on as well. So the only way to really be sure is to back up the data, format the hard drive, reinstall Windows from a known, good source, and run updates.
John McAfee is on the run in Belize because police want to arrest him on charges for murder. McAfee made his fortune as creator of McAfee Anti-Virus, then lost most of it in the latest financial crisis. He has been waging a strange information campaign as a fugitive staying in contact with reporters through phone, Twitter, and his blog.
Leo recommends Microsoft's Security Essentials, which is free.
Mike also noticed that his laptop has slowed down over time. Leo says that over time, Windows can suffer from "bit rot." The easiest way to fix it is to back up his data, then format the hard drive and restore the OS from the recovery disks to the way he got it when he bought it. Then he should make sure to run Windows updates.
Terry responded to a pop-up from someone who used remote access to get into his computer. Leo says that is a complete scam and it's likely that a they've infected his computer with viruses and maybe even key loggers to monitor activity on the computer. They even tried to charge him for this. Leo advises that he talk to a computer store in his area. Then have them backup his data and reinstall Windows. He can run a scanner such as the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool by clicking Start, selecting "Run", typing MRT and hitting enter.
Absolutely. It may cost about $15 for the upgrade, but any computer made from the last few years will be able to go up to Windows 8.
Bobby also just bought a "lifetime" subscription to Viper AntiVirus. Leo says that AVS companies are going lifetime subscriptions now to get the most money out of you since Windows 8 will ship with an AVS for free later this year, and most people won't buy a subscription ever again. But even so, $90 for three computers isn't too bad at all.
Leo says that Avast may be giving Bob a false positive, which isn't unlikely, especially with free AVS software. If he wants a free antivirus, he should dump Avast and go with Microsoft Security Essentials. He could also download Microsoft Windows Defender. He can even make a bootable USB key or CD and then run it independently to scan his entire hard drive.
Sam has tried replacing drivers, restarting the router and modem and even bypassing the router and connecting directly to the modem. Leo concludes that there's something wrong with software on the laptop, and is most likely a Windows issue. He says it could either be security software that's blocking the connection or a virus that's doing it. Leo first recommends disabling his McAfee antivirus. It could be that the antivirus is being overzealous and is cutting out wireless activity.