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Solutions: PC virus protection that's free and easy

I recently took my laptop into a local computer repair shop to have memory added. At the same time, I asked them to clean up the system. When I picked it up, I was informed that they didn't like the virus protection I was using and installed ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 for a 30-day trial period. I previously had Microsoft Security Essentials installed, which I know you recommend. What is your opinion of this new program?

I have never used and don't know much about ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5. What I do know is that Security Essentials provides excellent antivirus protection, as good or better than most, and it's free. I also believe that "if it's not broke, don't fix it." If you were fine with the free Security Essentials before, why pay for a replacement? I believe in keeping things simple. Adding antivirus software that requires renewals adds unnecessary complexity to your system. Security Essentials, an up-to-date Windows version, a minimum of the default security settings in Internet Explorer along with common sense and responsible behavior are all you need to keep your PC safe.

I'm moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. Is there a way I can transfer my Outlook contacts file?

The Windows 7 Easy Transfer program should be able to do that for you. Since you're coming from a Windows XP PC, you'll need to install the Windows Easy Transfer for XP on your old PC. You can find that along with detailed instructions and videos at

I'm having a problem with "redirect" when I try to search on the Web. I have a Dell Studio XPS 8100 64 bits desktop running Windows 7 and IE 9. I followed your advice to download Windows Defender Offline and boot the computer using that. I ran a full scan, which came back saying the computer passed, changed my passwords and have IE set to medium-high. I also get a message telling me to open Windows Security Center, but when I click "open," another box comes up and says Windows Security Center can't open. I've uninstalled and then reinstalled with no luck.

First, let's try running Internet Explorer in no-addon mode as follows: Click Start, run, type "iexplorer -extoff" (without the quotes). If your search is now working as expected, check to see which add-ons are normally turned on. Disable anything that looks unfamiliar or suspicious. If no difference, move on. There doesn't seem to be a definitive solution for today's sophisticated viruses. I detailed one approach in this column last December. It involves using programs, FixNCR, RKill and Malwarebytes AntiMalware. You can find detailed instructions at Scroll down to "Automated Removal Instructions for Win 7 Antispyware 2012." Although you're not experiencing "Antispyware 2012" pop-ups, the disabling of Windows Security Center is one symptom.

Send questions to [email protected] or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: PC virus protection that's free and easy 07/29/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 29, 2012 8:19pm]
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