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Avoid Virus Grief

               Remove unwanted Data and Executable files

Will Vista help keep your computer well?

 "How to Remove Unwanted Items
        from Your Computer"

     Unwanted items in the most generic sense may appear in the form of data files (items of data), or programs (executables), either fully installed on your computer in the normal fashion (using the Windows Installer program), or simply stored in some folder location.    

     Removing an unwanted item from your computer can range from a simple or minimal exercise, to the downright nerve-wracking. Here are some of the most basic types of unwanted items.

     First, let's identify the various types of 'unwanted items' in
existence. Also for the purposes of this article, assume that a
Windows-based computer is the object of this discussion.  
    Executable files stored in some folder location simply need to  be clicked on to run as intended, or they can run if unintentionally triggered by some other process. Some of these programs could be 'hostile', that is they could be malware - a virus, trojan, spyware or Adware.

    Here's a list of some of the more common types of unwanted items that could be found on your system and some suggestions to remove these unwanted computer items:
Unwanted Data Items:
  To remove data files - simply identify, locate and delete the data file, followed by emptying the trash can.
However, be aware that if security is an issue, simple file deletion as described above will not completely remove all traces of the data. To be sure that sensitive data is removed 'forever', the data must be overwritten with new data designed in accordance with recognized secure methods. This is a rather complicated procedure requiring help from an experienced technician.

It's theoretically possible to retrieve even data that has been overwritten, so the solution often heard is that the only secure way to prevent sensitive data from ever being retrieved is to physically destroy the hard disk originally used to store the data. Retrieving data that has been overwritten would be way beyond the capabilities of all but the most technically sophisticated.
Cache Files:
  Cache files are used by Windows to help speed up the execution of routing and/or repetitive operations. While these are not 'unwanted' in the strictest sense of the term, over time the cache file size may grow unnecessarily large, thereby degrading computer performance
Internet Temporary Files:
  During the course of the normal use of Internet Explorer of other Internet browser, many temporary files are created.
Windows Temporary Files:
  Windows creates temp files during software installation as well as various other operations. These files provide the ability to easily recover from various possible 'glitches' that may occur during execution of a given process.

Similar to Cache files, Windows uses 'temp' (temporary) files to provide smoother operation of various installed programs. Temp files are conspicuous by their '.tmp' file extension. For example, you will find temp files being created whenever programs such as MSWord or Excel are used.

Temporary Files can be removed by using the Disk Cleanup tools in the Systems Tools folder included under Accessories in your Windows Program list.

Click on the Start button, then select Programs, click on it and open Accessories. Select System Tools and proceed to Disk Cleanup. Follow the simple instructions. You'll see helpful information here to guide you in performing your Disk Cleanup.
Unwanted Installed Programs:
  Remove executable files:
Any program originally installed using the Windows installer may be uninstalled by the usual (recommended) method of going to the Control Panel and running the 'Add/Remove Programs' utility. Many programs are also supplied with their own uninstaller. In such cases this feature should be used as a first option for its removal from your computer.
It should be noted that if the program's own uninstaller and/or Windows Add/Remove Program utility fail to remove the program, other more intrusive means of removal may be employed. Again, help from a professional computer technician is probably the safest approach here.
  The removal of malware (spyware, adware, etc.) is typically the most challenging of all the procedures described thus far. In fact, the initial obstacle is recognizing that such an 'infestation' does indeed exist.
Some of the first signs of possible malware infestation are:
  Erratic computer operation.
  Computer crashes.
  Slower-than-normal operation.
  Pop-up messages warning of virus infestation or other problem (trying to scare you into taking some particular action, such as visiting a website promising to fix the problem).
Your Home Page suddenly being changed from the normal site
(home-page hijacking).
To be sure, there are other factors that may slow down your computer or cause erratic behavior, such as file corruption, or software bugs. However, there are a few procedures you can follow which will reduce or eliminate the possibility that your computer is in fact the victim of a malware 'attack'.

It makes good sense to run a complete check for malware and remove any items found, and then perform the routine maintenance procedures described here (Internet and Windows temp file removal, etc.).

                                                                               ... Richard Rossbauer

Richard started his "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website and "Security Alert News Reporter" to help everyday Internet users navigate safely through the Cyber Space that has become a 'Cyber Jungle', loaded with ambushes and booby traps. He promotes his "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" thru his website at
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