On occasion I believe it is helpful and fun to take a look at some of the questions we hear everyday from our loyal readers and customers. As I have mentioned many times, if you are having a certain computer issue chances are someone else has had it in the past, is currently experiencing the issue or is going to get it, so reviewing these e-mails and phone calls is a good way of helping everyone.

"I keep getting these messages to upgrade or update my security programs. You recommended these programs but I am afraid to do any upgrades."

Every protective program worth anything has periodic updates to enable to software to protect your computer against the latest threats. This should happen daily on an automatic basis with Malwarebytes, Microsoft Security Essentials and others, so this is normal. These are updates. If the message is to upgrade, that is a different matter. Make certain you know which program is asking to upgrade. If it is Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, Avira or another security program you use, it is generally beneficial to upgrade as long as the upgrade is free. Avira will give a splash screen every time it updates, wanting you to buy the program. Read what they are trying to get you to do and make a wise decision.

"I keep getting this terrible pop-up that covers my whole desktop and has changed the background and everything. I cannot get on the Internet except to go to this website where they want me to buy a program to remove this pop-up. I don't know what to do. Help me!"

This is a classic example of being a victim on spyware. This pop-up is usually accompanied by a supposed scan of your system, where an incredible amount of viruses have been discovered. This is a scare tactic. If you have Malwarebytes installed on your computer you can try to start in Safe Mode with Networking, log on as Administrator update Malwarebytes and do a full scan to remove the spyware. To get to Safe Mode, turn your computer all the way off and as you press the On/Off button, begin tapping F8 until you see an Advanced Startup Screen, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter, then follow the prompts. If you have tried to operate your computer too long with this infection or have turned it off and on a number of times, you may not be able to run these programs so your only recourse is to call a computer guy (like me) to take a look at your computer and determine the proper path to take to remove the spyware.

"I tried installing Microsoft Security Essentials or Malwarebytes, as you recommended, but it doesn't seem to be working correctly. It will not update or it has an error message when my computer starts up."

Overall, software manufacturers do an incredible job of making their programs compatible with most computers. When you consider how many different types of computers are on the market, the number of different operating systems, the seemingly endless combination of programs running on any one machine at any given time, it is remarkable to me that any program runs. My hat is off to programmers. Having said all that, there are always possibilities for conflicts between a certain program and your computer. Basically, not all the kids play nice with each other. If you are having issues with a certain program and wish to get rid of it, go to Start, Control Panel and, depending on your version of Windows, click either Add/Remove Programs or Programs. From this window you can click on a program you wish to remove and then click either Uninstall or Remove, again depending on your version of Windows. Generally this will remove it, but if you still cannot uninstall the program, try searching Google for a removal tool. Many software manufacturers have created a removal tool that can help in removing even stubborn programs like McAfee, Norton and others.

• Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.


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