Keeping your computer malware/virus free is sort of an arcane art. For example if you install everything on this list and have it automatically run at startup your computer will be slower due to everything loading into memory. Many of these programs have a ‘portable’ or ‘standalone’ version which means you don’t have to install them to use them. Follow the link for all the details.

Here is my recommended configuration:

(loads into memory at startup)
Microsoft Security Essentials

(Only run when you tell them to)
Glary Utilities

My Favorite Free Anti virus is Microsoft Security Essentials
It is free and light on system use. It also has important features such as automatic updates, scheduled scanning and real-time protection. You’d have to pay for these features in other programs.

For programs I like to use when cleaning the registry or scanning for spyware:

My weapon of choice against spyware

Bob’s weapon of choice against spyware

Also of note: Spybot Search&Destroy;. It has a feature that allows you to block sites known to be infected with malware from doing anything to your computer.

For cleaning the registry/deleting temp files/editing startup items I like CCleaner I recommend taking a system checkpoint before running this in case something important gets disabled.

For a simple program that does many of these scans all at once I like Glary Utilities Simply click a scan button and it will run Antispyware, registry, temporary files and browser history scan. Once the scan is complete click another button and it deletes anything it found.

For getting rid of unwanted programs that dell/hp/sony/etc install by default I like PCDecrapifier It runs tries to figure out what programs you don’t need and shows them to you in a list. You can then check the ones you want to uninstall and it’ll try to uninstall them for you. I recommend taking a system checkpoint before running this in case something important gets disabled.

More Info: a PC optimization guide from

About the Author
James Curran


  1. Lisa Presley

    So, question: can you comment on how Kaspersky fits into this? I got this on IT’s recommendation, but don’t see you talk about it here . . .

  2. James Curran

    Hi Lisa,

    Kaspersky is a good option but usually costs money. At home I use Microsoft Security Essentials rather than Kaspersky as my primary anti-virus. I use Malwarebytes and SUPERantispyware as extra backup when I’m nervous about a file from the internet or as a “second opinion” when think my computer may have a virus. If you’re happy with Kaspersky, I’d say keep using it as your “primary care provider” but you could consider using one of the others as a backup when you suspect your computer has caught the sniffles.

  3. bob schopp

    I’ll just add that on UUA owned/off-site computers it’s best to have our corporate version of Kaspersky installed. In this blog post, when we refer to ‘home computers’ we mean computers owned by the individual.

  4. Lisa Presley

    Thanks! I’m one of those unusual folks–I’m an offsite person, but still using my “home computer.” It was really new when I got hired on so I couldn’t see spending UUA resources to have this one sit dormant. . . .and that’s why I have Kaspersky! Any chance that the renewal will be “free” to us offsite users this year?

  5. James Curran

    That is an interesting case. I’ll check with folks and see what our policy on that is. My guess is we don’t want to make it official other than the free year trial of Kaspersky Home that came bundled with our initial purchase of Kaspersky.

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