As you suggested, I am running Microsoft Security Essentials as virus protection. My computer has recently shown signs of infections — the mouse is not moving smoothly and it takes a long time to load certain programs. I downloaded and ran Anti-Malware from www.malwarebytes.org. I did a quick scan which took over a half hour, and it found 549 infected files and registry entries. They were all from "AdwardDoubleD." I had Malwarebytes remove them all. Why didn't Microsoft Security Essentials find these infections? Should I be concerned about removing registry entries that Malwarebytes states are infected?
It sounds as if you were already infected. If that was the case, the DoubleD virus can make itself invisible to the host antivirus. It is a good idea to run the Malwarebytes program and get a clean slate before installing any new antivirus, including Microsoft Security Essentials. There could be many additional reasons for the slow activity, such as too many active programs. This will stress your memory and add to a probably overworked file system with unnecessary swapping.
I've written many times in this column to get familiar with and identify programs that start automatically on bootup. A good tool to use to help you do this is Microsoft's AutoRuns (www.sysinternals.com, listed under Process Utilities). AutoRuns (Logon tab) is an alternative to the Microsoft System Configuration Tool (MSCONFIG) program, but either will work just fine. You can use either of those tools to view and disable, if needed, programs that start up automatically each time Windows boots. Every PC will be different, and it takes a little detective work to know what belongs and what doesn't, but the results will be worth it.
I receive a notice from time to time that "a local area connection 2, a network cable is unplugged! (Fire Windbond PCI Fast ETHERNET A )." I can't seem to get advice as to whether I should click on the X on the control panel in hopes of restoring it, or just ignore it. Some advice is that it's not necessary on my HP computer.
That advice is probably correct. It sounds as if you are using a wireless network connection and not using the ethernet network adaptor (wired) that also comes with your PC. To get rid of the message, you should be able to just double-click the small Network Cable Unplugged error icon in the bottom right of your screen and choose the Disable option.
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