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An Essential Tool in the Age of Malware


I hope that everyone has had a safe and wonderful New Year!  Ours was the most fun we’d had in many years.  On the other hand, I had to spend some precious holiday time doing something that seems more common now than ever – cleaning one of our home PC’s of all of the accumulated spyware, malware, and Trojan horses that had nearly immobilized it.  And that’s despite the fact that I have both McAfee VirusScan, Lavasoft AdAware, and one or two other freeware products on the machine.  In the words of Howard Dean - Yeeargh!!


The most annoying feature of much of this malware is that they somehow install themselves as autostarting programs.  This feature is a defense mechanism that reinstalls the malware should you happen to find and remove the malware executable.  As a result, you might walk away from a computer you believe you’ve cleaned only to return a couple hours later with a dozen IE browsers on the screen hawking everything from on-line retailers to on-line casinos.  


The answer to this problem is a very nifty program from the Sysinternals website of Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell – Autoruns, currently at v6.1.  One of the cooler features is that you hide any autostarting Microsoft program from the display with a single click.  In this and many other ways, tt is vastly superior to the MSConfig utility that ships with Windows ME and XP.  (There are also lots of other very useful freeware utilities on the site.)


You can find Autoruns at  As it turns out, there’s also an article describing advanced features of the utility at


Of course, my use case is only one of many situations where you might want to see what programs automatically start on your computer.   But, in my case, it was a big help. 



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