Free antivirus

Fed up with bloated commercial antivirus programs? Sick of the incremental payments for yearly renewals for the likes of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus and McAfee's Virus Scan Plus? Yank these behemoths out by their roots and replace them with a super-duper freebie.

The Hassle: I want to switch over to a free antivirus program, but I seem to need a blowtorch to remove Norton AntiVirus. (Ditto for the McAfee product on my wife's PC.) Help!

The Fix: Blowtorch? Some people have tried using C4 plastic explosives to remove Norton products - and the Live Update still survives. If "Add or Remove Programs" in Windows doesn't do the job, Norton provides a removal method that's terrific - but at the same time, a royal pain in the behind. It's the Norton Removal Tool (also called the AutoFix Tool; get it at http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039).

It extracts every Norton product on your system (versions 2003 through 2007). That's right, it's dopey, and you're stuck reinstalling the tools you want to keep. (Dig up your original CDs before you start this fun exercise.) And yes, you will likely lose the personal settings when you reinstall the Norton products. McAfee has a manual, albeit cumbersome, method to remove its VirusScan product ( www.ts.mcafeehelp.com/faq.asp?frames=1&docid=68717&CategoryId=245&chat).

For a replacement program, I have two favourite antivirus freebies: Grisoft's AVG (www.free.grisoft.com), which is the application that I use, and Alwil's Avast (www.avast.com).

QUICK TIP: And talking about uninstalling, you have to try MyUninstaller, Nir Sofer's nifty, free utility (www.nirsoft.net/utils/myuninst.html). The app also lists each program's location on your drive, when it was installed and the product's Web site.

AntiSpyware gripe

The Hassle: After running an anti spyware program, I now have only sporadic access to the Web.

The Fix: The culprit is a Layered Service Provider that went kaflooey or vanished. You may be able to Web surf, but you may not have e-mail, or vice versa. The fix is easy.

If you're using Windows 98 or Me, download and run LSPFix ( www.cexx.org/lspfix.htm). XP users with Service Pack 2 should go to Start-Run and type CMD and click OK. In the command window, type netsh winsock reset, and reboot. No luck? Borrow a buddy's PC and download WinSock XP Fix ( http://www.spychecker.com/program/winsockxpfi x.html ), a free tool that makes the LSP behave. Then read the tutorial ( http://www.cit.cornell.edu/computer/security/spyware/WinFix/).

Un-jam a print queue

The Hassle: I started printing a 50-page document. Midway through, the job stopped, yet my clicking Cancel in the system tray's print queue didn't help.

The Fix: It's technically known as printicus stuckitis. From the Start menu, select Run, enter CMD and click OK. Type net stop spooler to halt the service. Leave the CMD window open, wait a few seconds, and check the print queue again - the print job should be gone. Type net start spooler in the CMD box to restart service.


TOP TIP

PRINT HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE Want to print a document directly on a pal's printer, anywhere in the world? If you're both online, you can do it with PrinterAnywhere ( http://www.printeranywhere.com). The free utility installs on both PCs, and you can choose the PrinterAnywhere printer from any application. An encrypted version of your file shoots through the Net and outputs on your friend's printer. Turn the idea around, and you can share your printer with anyone. The program is ideal for sending confidential documents, and unlike e-mail, your file can't be forwarded.


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