During the holiday season, most technical people get pressed into service as the IT Department for the family. There always is a PC around that is slow or infected with viruses. Scott Hanselman has discussed this topic frequently, with a summary post being my favorite.
My Dad’s PC got infected this holiday shopping season. Of course, we can’t pinpoint the exact website, but he thought he was on Amazon. Of course, that is *very* unlikely, but task number one was getting the machine usable.
He had Norton on the machine (which had expired), but launching the program would not work. It would immediately abort, most likely because the virus was looking for that executable. Same thing with “the internet protector program I got from AOL” and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE).
So, I booted the PC into safe mode. The incessant pop-ups stopped, but the Security Essentials program would not run either. Same with Norton.
After some Bing-ing, I found the Microsoft Safety Scanner program. A 72KB executable that runs in safe mode and is refreshed periodically to combat the latest issues. Success!!!! The program expires 10 days after download, so is not a replacement for MSE (or any other AV program). But it discovered and removed viruses on the computer, allowing me to boot normally and remove the failing AV/protector programs. And put MSE on and configure its updates.