After overcoming many doubts, I followed your advice and ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This provided a pleasurable Internet experience. No more irritating popups or screen lockups. After several weeks I bought a $25 one-year subscription. You always recommend the free trial but I would like to hear your comment on the paid subscription.
I'm glad that worked out for you. You may also think about reinstalling whichever antivirus you were using. Some malware/viruses, once activated, will disable your antivirus to avoid detection. Though your system is clean now, make sure your antivirus is active and running without issues.
I've never used the subscription version of Malwarebytes Anti-Maware. I don't accept free software and I like to run my system with just the Microsoft Windows built-in tools or the software they provide for free (Security Essentials, Defender). This way I can have a common baseline with the readers who write in to the column.
However, I think Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a proven product and their company has provided the free version for quite a few years and have helped out untold numbers of PC users. They have my confidence as a company, and I don't mind mentioning their subscription product for that reason. I will depend upon readers like you to let me know how it works out for them.
You mention occasionally that we should check and disable unneeded programs on Startup, using msconfig. When I check msconfig, I see a long list of "Services" listed, many of which are noted as "running." Do you have any kind of guide we can use to determine which are needed? Also, on the Startup tab, I have several programs listed, including Intel listed three times and Realplayer listed twice. Any suggestions?
If the Intel processes are hkcmd.exe, igfxtray.exe and igfxpers.exe (persistence module), they are connected to the graphics software and settings. Not absolutely necessary for Startup, but I'd leave them alone, especially the persistence module, which remembers your resolution settings when powered off.
The RealPlayer entry is probably the startup process that displays the RealPlayer icon in the tray. It's not necessary to be active at start-up. There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding fine-tuning of services.
I would proceed very carefully here. Every PC is going to be different, but there are always some services running that may not be needed. For instance, on Windows 7 the Telephony service runs by default. It is there for modem and fax services. If you don't use a modem to connect to the Internet (does anybody?) or have a fax machine attached, that can be turned off.
One site, blackviper.com, has a lot of detailed Windows service information and can help with the fine-tuning if you're so inclined. Will it make a noticeable difference? Probably not.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.