You wrote in your column that Windows 8 has a very robust antivirus built in. After I bought a new Windows 8 Lenovo laptop, I followed the instructions to set it up and went online to check my emails. The computer wouldn't respond. I called the help line in India, but they wanted to charge me money to help solve my problem. I took it to Office Depot (where I had bought it). They told me it had 16 viruses on it. I told them that I thought all new computers came with an antivirus for 30 days. They said no, but I could clean it and install McAfee for $135. I had it installed, but why did this happen if Windows 8 has a built-in antivirus?
I can't tell you what exactly happened. That would have been a question better asked of Lenovo, since it happened so quickly. They should not have asked you for a fee.
Windows 8 does come with a built-in antivirus that is turned on out-of-the-box. But here's where the train can run off the rails: If the PC vendor installs a third-party antivirus (Norton, McAfee) and you proceed to uninstall that application, as many people do since they know Windows 8 already comes with a free antivirus, the uninstall seems to leave pieces behind that are enough to tell Windows 8 Defender that there is still another antivirus in place. The result is Windows Defender doesn't turn itself on, and there isn't any warning or message to that effect.
You have to go to the third-party support website and download and run their removal tool. Then you have to explicitly turn Windows Defender on. This is a messy and dangerous process. It would be so much easier if the PC vendors did not put all of this unnecessary software on your system in the first place.
I'm sorry you had to pay so much money for something that may not have been necessary. Since this happened the first day you had the PC, I would have recommended reloading the factory image and checking for viruses at that stage. That should have been the solution offered by Lenovo and Office Depot as well, without asking for a fee.
When I boot up my computer, I always get a message that McAfee isn't fully loaded. I always get emails from AOL telling me that I have "free" McAfee downloads available as part of my "AOL Package" and the emails want me to "download now." I don't trust this. Should I be concerned?
Yes. My recommendation is to do a complete uninstall of McAfee through Control Panel, Add/Remove programs.
Go to the McAfee support site http://mcafee-removal-tool.com and download the removal tool to clean up anything left behind. AOL does appear to offer a free "AOL version" of McAfee antivirus, but I think you would be better off installing Microsoft Security Essentials at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/security-essentials-all-versions.
It's free, will keep itself updated and give you better protection.
Send questions to [email protected] or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.