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Connected to the Net? Then you've probably got spyware

Answers to reader questions

Published June 21, 2004

Q. How can I determine if spyware or adware has been installed in my Windows XP?

A. If you've ever browsed the Internet, I can assure you that you have spyware or adware. If you happen to have teenagers who use the computer, I also can assure you that your PC is most likely infested with spyware/adware. I'll go out on a limb here and assume that you have spyware/adware on your PC.

Here's how to get started in getting rid of it: Download and install both Ad-aware and Spybot www.safer-networking.or Follow the links for the free versions. Click the Check for Updates button within each of these applications, run them (one at a time) and have them fix any problems. Do this on a regular basis (almost every day). Accept the option from Spybot to run the TeaTimer component. This helps kill spyware before it gets on your PC.

And of course, make sure your antivirus program is current with up-to-date definitions.

That's a start. Now move on to the installed programs on your PC: Go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add/Remove programs. Applications such as Kazaa, Bonzi Software, Comet Cursor, Gator and others too numerous to name are all spyware or adware. Remove them. Investigate all other applications and make sure you know what they are, what they do and if they belong on your system. This will take some investigative work on your part. A quick Google search on any of the application names you see will help you determine if they are friend or foe.

Finally, right-click on the Taskbar, select Taskmgr, then the Processes tab. Check out the process names you find. Good sites to use as references to check the names of running processes are: which also has a for-purchase product that can help automate this process, and which makes a similar product named WinTask 4.

You also can check the Personal Tech archives for the April 26 column, "Do you know what your PC is running?" to get started.

Passwords and clicks

Q. I bought a Dell computer with Internet Explorer and Outlook Express already installed. At the same time, I switched from dialup to cable broadband. I have two questions I couldn't answer using the help menus: When I open Outlook Express, I get the sign-on box with my user name already there. I have to type in my password, but the "remember my password" box won't highlight. So I have to type in my password every time. On my old computer I had my mouse set so that I had to click only once on an icon to open the site. I have been unable to find this option anywhere. These are not problems as such, but I would like to have the convenience I had with the old computer.

A. For the password problem, in Outlook Express, click Tools, Accounts and the Mail tab. Select your e-mail account and click the Properties button. Next click the Servers tab and make sure the "Remember Password" option is checked.

For the one-click mouse option, one would expect to find this under the Control Panel Mouse options, right? Wrong. Open My Computer, click Tools, Folder Options and the General tab. Click the "Single-click to open an item" option under the Click Item as Follows option box.

Undeleteable e-mail

Q. In Outlook Express sometimes I cannot delete an e-mail. I run Norton 2004 Professional antivirus and so far it tells me there is no virus. If I restart the computer, it will clear up the problem for a while.

A. It sounds as if your Deleted items folder is corrupt. First, find out where this file is kept. In Outlook Express, click Tools, Options and the Maintenance tab. Click the Store Folder button, which will display the directory location of your files. It is a good idea to select this value and copy it to your paste buffer (hold the mouse button while dragging the cursor across the value, then right-click and select Copy).

Exit Outlook Express and click Start, Run. Paste the directory value into the text box and click OK. This will open up the File Explorer in the directory where your Outlook Express folders are stored. Delete the Deleted Items.dbx file.

When you open Outlook Express, it will create a new and undamaged Deleted Items.dbx file. Exit Outlook Express.


The latest version of Spybot is 1.3. An item in last week's Solutions column gave an incorrect number.

- Send hardware and software questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions will be answered only in the column. John Torro is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. He has been writing for Personal Tech since 1997.

- Previous Solutions columns are available at then click on archives.

[Last modified June 18, 2004, 14:13:39]

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