You can file this one under “Tricks of the Trade:”
Two tools I routinely use to help rid PCs of viruses, malware and spyware have been added to the Windows Apps page. Not only do they work, they are both FREE! Malwarebytes AntiMalware and Avira Personal Edition keep the bad stuff away (although, Avira presents a “nag” screen every time the software updates definition files–this is something that shouldn’t be an issue for most users.)
There are more applications out there that advertise being able to protect Windows machines from viruses and other rogue code, but these two are by far the best. SpyBot Search and Destroy gets an honorable mention, as does AVAST! Home Edition (although AVAST! requires the user to register on their site before being able to activate the product). I would also recommend SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition, if none of the others were available.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend AVG, Norton/Symantec or McAfee, as they all are pretty much owned (means overpowered, bullied, thoroughly beaten) by certain types of malware and virus code. Adding insult to injury, these applications also tend to slow down a machine quite noticeably.
(Original article appears in my KIPC TechBytes blog from September 10th, 2009 on www.kipcrepair.com).