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Free Tools for Troubleshooting and Fixing PC Issues

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Whether you’re an official PC technician or a do-it-yourselfer, there are thousands of software tools out there that can help you troubleshoot and fix just about every computer issue. Eric Geier shares free utilities to diagnose and repair the most popular issues.
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Whether you’re an official PC technician or a do–it–yourselfer, there are thousands of software tools out there that can help you troubleshoot and fix just about every computer issue. Some tools are straightforward and can be used by the average user, while some should only be used by professionals.

Here we’ll review free utilities for the most popular issues. You can download the tools individually or use a boot CD (as discussed in the end of this article) that is preloaded with hundreds of tools.

Combating Viruses, Spyware, and Other Malware Infections

There are endless utilities out there to help remove and prevent malware infections. When looking for utilities, understand that in addition to scanners, some provide real–time protection with alerts to help the user stop the malware before an actual infection. Keep in mind that some malware utilities concentrate on traditional viruses, spyware, or Trojans alone, and some support some or all the different types of malware.

In addition to installable or executable utilities, there are bootable CDs that can run on their own, in case you can’t boot into Windows.

Scanners aren’t the only utilities to help fix damage by infections. HijackThis, for example, lets you examine registry and file settings and fix those that have been changed.

Here are some popular utilities you might consider adding to your arsenal:

  • Malwarebytes: Scans for and removes malware and offers real–time protection with alerts.
  • ComboFix: Scans for malware, trying to automatically remove infections and giving a report for those that can’t be automatically removed.
  • SUPERAntiSpyware: Scanning and real–time protection against spyware and other malware, offered via regular installation or a portable version.
  • SpyBot Search & Destroy: Detects and removes spyware with scans and real–time protections.
  • SmitFraud Fix: Removes many of the fake anti–virus programs, which are trojans, on Windows 2000 and XP.
  • HijackThis: Displays registry and file settings, where you can fix those that are corrupted or hijacked. Keep in mind, it doesn’t help you determine which settings are bad, you must make the determination.
  • Kaspersky Rescue Disk: Malware scanner and remover that boots from a CD.
  • AVG Rescue CD: Provides an anti–virus and anti–spyware scanner and admin tools from a bootable CD.
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