I followed your recommendation and installed Microsoft Security Essentials.
It’s been a nightmare ever since. Things are worse than before. I don’t know
how you can recommend something like that. What do I do to get this mess
I stand by my recommendation.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a solid anti-malware tool that works and
works well in the vast majority of cases. I like it because it’s a one-stop
solution for a fairly broad base of protection and it’s kept up to date by
So why’d it mess up your machine so badly?
I have a theory.
And I have some steps for you to try and dig out of this mess.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Which came first?
My theory is simply this: your machine was already infected with malware.
off; it’s not really your machine any more.”
Malware these days is pretty sophisticated and part of that sophistication
is that viruses and spyware will take steps to protect themselves. Most often,
this is in the form of preventing anti-malware tools from running or updating,
and perhaps even preventing you from accessing download sites where you might
get anti-malware tools.
What I believe has happened is that the malware already on your
machine seriously interfered with your installation of Microsoft Security
Essentials. Either the installation was prevented or corrupted or the
program’s ability to run was somehow disabled.
In other words, the malware made a further mess of things.
That makes things kinda tough, because if you have an infected machine, one
of the first things that you want to do is to update or install anti-malware tools
to eradicate the infection.
But you can’t clean the infection … because the machine is infected.
Try this instead
Using a different machine, download the
Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper and burn that to a CD.
Now, reboot your infected computer from that CD and run the tool to scan
your machine’s hard drive for malware.
Booting from that CD prevents the malware on your machine from ever gaining
control and thereby stopping that malware from interfering with the
Which, by the way, is really just a version of Microsoft Security Essentials, in a stand-alone, boot-from-cd form.
My guess is that there’s a good chance that the sweeper will detect and
remove the malware that started all of this.
Don’t blame the messenger.
If there’s malware on your machine, then all bets are off; it’s not really
your machine any more.
As such, that means that the malware could be responsible for all sorts of
mischief, particularly making anti-malware tools fail or otherwise
Microsoft Security Essentials is a good anti-malware tool. Because of that,
it’s very likely that malware would target it, not just to prevent it from
working, but perhaps even to make it look bad.