Often, people ask me what they can do to make their computer run faster. Like any complex machine, that question has a complex answer. The 3am infomecials would have you believe that their solution (for a price) will solve all of your computer issues.
Ars Technica has a great article on the specifics of the scams. It helps to point out the specifics of such scams, such as fear mongering (13,000 issues! I have to deal with them now!), low initial costs or limited time licenses that auto renew ($39.99/year? Of course I can do that now.) and “testimonials” from people who have used the product.
Ars Technica lists Malware Byte’s Anti-Malware and mentions Microsoft’s Security Essentials. I also recommend CCleaner and Super Antispyware. All four of these tools are free (disclaimer: Malware Bytes and Super Antispyware both have paid versions) and are pretty easy to use.
What I strive to make people aware of is that there are a few basic steps that can be done, such as the previous tools, and if you are unsure of what you’re doing, there is no shame in calling a professional for help. If you do get someone to help you, please make sure of their credentials and look at how much they cost vs the price of a new computer.
Of course, this wouldn’t be complete without talking about backups. I recommendCrashplan for a few reasons. Their software is free (always a plus), can backup to a local external hard drive, runs in the background and will notify you if your computer goes a few days without backing up. They also have enterprise level software and services for your SMB needs.
If you have any questions on anything I’ve talked about here, please drop me a line and I would be happy to help you avoid the scams and the stress they bring.