Monday, May 12, 2008

How do I spray an anti-virus?

I SWEAR this happened to me today.

A neighbour, in his 80s, asked me to check his laptop, presented to him by his daughter about five months ago. It had gone slow and weak and was doing weird things like cutting and pasting text in unexpected places when the poor guy was composing email messages.


I checked his anti-virus software.

The anti-virus software that had come pre-loaded on the laptop had expired. He had no idea what I was gabbing about when I showed him the expiry message.

"This virus," he asked, "It can come even if it doesn't know my password?"

How do I tackle that?

I guess I need to get right down to the basics. Daughters are buying daddies laptops and those daddies need to know what's what, from the ground up.

So here's: New to the net; my computer is slow; it shows "loading"; and other garbled messages old folks with kids giving them laptops throw at me:

  1. Whatever your shiny new laptop does, it isn't safe: That's right. Just sending your offspring an email that you're fine might download a malicious program called a virus, which can easily turn your laptop inside out and make it unusable, without you knowing.
  2. Getting a laptop usually means you have to spend to make it safe: Children, in all innocence and with the best motivation in the world, usually give parents a laptop. Almost always, a rudimentary anti-virus program is part of the thingamajiggy. Trouble is, that anti-virus software expires in a month or so. Unless you know how to check the anti-virus status (and most newby net uses haven't a clue what anti-virus software is, anyway) all you can report is that your PC is running slow
My recommendations:
  1. Obtain a paid anti-virus progam: Free anti-virus software is all over the net but when you pay, you hold the vendor responsible, not the opposite.
  2. Back up your hard disk. Whether you just copy your data to an external drive or make it capable of restoring your system, learn the intricacies of it. The benefits in tips alone are worth it.
Now for the anti-virus spray

I could barely keep from laughing as the wife of the pensioner in question walked out from her bath, asked what was the problem and, when told that there may be a virus on the machine, asked, "Well, do they have anti-virus sprays?"