Removing a Redirect Virus

My neighbor called me the other day and asked if I could look at his computer. (Something you might well experience yourself 🙂 ).

He’d lost connectivity to his ISP, but more interestingly, his backup machine – a laptop – was acting … odd.

The ISP problem turned out to be the ISP’s problem, and resolved itself the next day.

The laptop, however, turned out to be a different story. When I was done with it, my neighbor asked, “Well, is that an Ask Leo! story?”

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Read moreRemoving a Redirect Virus

What’s the Difference between Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender?

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I use Windows Defender Offline on a flash drive both at home and at work. On the computers themselves, however, the screen sometimes says Microsoft Security Essentials and other times, it says Windows Defender. I forgot to check if the Windows Defender has Microsoft Security Essentials installed. Does it really matter which one shows up?

Microsoft’s product naming frustrates me to no end. They seem to have an incredible knack for picking the most confusing names possible.

While the names Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender seem innocuous enough, what they mean has changed over time. And therein lies the confusion.

Read moreWhat’s the Difference between Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender?

Do I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

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I read an article last week that basically said Microsoft had give up competing with other anti-malware tools and that Microsoft Security Essentials wasn’t going to be any good any more. The article recommended that I quit using it immediately and switch to something else. What do you think? Do I need to stop using Microsoft Security Essentials?

No.

No you don’t. If you’ve been happy with it, you’re perfectly welcome to keep on using it as you have in the past.

To put it a different way, I’m not changing my recommendation. Microsoft Security Essentials remains my recommendation for most people. I’m also not changing what I use myself, which is MSE.

As it turns out, the majority of the “journalism” on the topic over the past couple of weeks has simply been repeating a single source of information. Worse, the repetition included not only a couple of quotes without full context from a Microsoft spokesperson and also additional speculation by the author of that original piece. As the story was repeated, even more speculation was added and assumptions were made.

The result was quite the kerfuffle.

Now, I don’t call myself a “journalist” – I’m just a geek with a voice on the web trying to help people use their computers. But even I know that just repeating and embellishing what others are saying about what others are saying isn’t the right way to approach something like this.

So I took a different approach. I went to the source and contacted Microsoft directly for clarification.

Read moreDo I Need to Stop Using Microsoft Security Essentials?

Do I need to run the Malicious Software Removal tool?

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I have a Fujitsu laptop running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. It’s running fine. I used Microsoft Security Essentials per your recommendation. After reading your last newsletter about manual updates, I went searching around the MS download site and found out about the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool and Microsoft Security Scanner. Should I download both of these and run them? Or are they earlier versions of software that are now wrapped up in Microsoft Security Essentials?

I wouldn’t necessarily consider them wrapped up with the existing software. But you don’t have to worry about them. Let me explain.

Read moreDo I need to run the Malicious Software Removal tool?

Why is Microsoft Security Essentials constantly saying potentially unprotected?

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Quite some time ago, I installed Microsoft Security Essentials as per your recommendation. I liked it right off the bat, but lately after turning my computer on, a small icon appears in the lower right-hand corner of the tray, telling me “Potentially unprotected” and that my virus protection is turned off and that my computer may be at risk. This happens occasionally, but now it’s happening every time. When I go to Microsoft Security Essentials, I see that my real-time protection is on and virus and spyware definitions are up-to-date. To get rid of this icon, I have to manually do an update every time. Once this is done, the icon disappears. This never used to happen until about three months ago or so. Do I have a virus in my system or malware or spyware wanting me to use their protector?

I’ve seen it, too. It seems to be fairly common.

I’ve run into several theories about why this might happen.

Read moreWhy is Microsoft Security Essentials constantly saying potentially unprotected?