Saturday, March 22, 2014

XP Users: Run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

This also goes for everybody.

Although I have written about this several times in this blog, I find it's one that is easy to forget. Microsoft makes available, on a monthly basis through its Automatic Updates, a tool called the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool. You'd think that might be MSRT for short, but they take it a step further and name the executable program MRT.

If you have Automatic Updates enabled, this tool is downloaded each month, and the best information I once found said that they (Microsoft) ran it but uses the Quick Scan option. What I have recommended and recommend strongly now, is that you run a Full Scan. It takes a long time, but it shouldn't bother you much as it runs.

To run it, and you can do that at any time, click on Start, then Run, and enter MRT in the box and click on OK. That will get it going, but you need to specify Full Scan. If you do nothing but run it, the default is Quick Scan.

This is just one little bit more insurance. You are betting, remember, that your Windowxs XP machine will run indefinitely after April 8. Or at least I am! :-)

This is the screen displayed at the end of a Full Scan:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

XP Users: MVPS Hosts File

Come to think of it, this applies to everybody.

I have been using the MVPS Hosts File for years. There is a new one just about every month. Sometimes I forget to get the latest month, and that is not a big deal, I manage to stay on top of it and get next month's. Each month the new file, which replaces the old, has updates based on the author's research during the time between versions.

The HOSTS file is simply a list of web sites that the author has determined are troublesome, and may even result in the user (you and me) getting a virus should we visit that web site. So the author is doing us all a very big favor, and I strongly recommend you to get, install, and update with each new version as it comes along, the HOSTS file that resides on your system. The HOSTS file is loaded into your computer's memory when you power on and it is searched for every web site you try to visit - before you get there. If the web site is on the HOSTS file list, your access will be blocked thanks to the author.

In all my years of using this, its use has never caused me a problem. NEVER! So don't let the description of the file scare you. Believe me, you don't want to visit these web sites anyway, and having the access blocked does not cause you a problem.

Here is the site where you can get the HOSTS file:

This is what appears today on that page:

MVPS HOSTS File Update March-17-2014

The MVPS HOSTS file was recently updated [March-17-2014]
Download: (133 kb)
How To: Download and Extract the HOSTS file
HOSTS File - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: the "text" version makes a great resource for determining possible unwanted connections ... (506 kb)
Get notified when the MVPS HOSTS file is updated

It goes without saying that this is very good timing for us all in that April 8 is just around the corner.

If you need help in doing this, contact me via my web site contact form at

Monday, March 17, 2014

XP Users: Enable Firewall in Preparation for April 8

I guess I have thought it goes without saying, but be sure to have the Windows XP Firewall enabled. You can do this at either the Control Panel (look for Firewall) or in the Security Center, also on the Control Panel, where you will see the current status of the Windows Firewall.

Many people have a different firewall, and if you do you will likely find the Windows Firewall disabled. If you have a "for a fee" anti-virus, it may include a Firewall and that is fine. Or perhaps you have another standalone firewall, free or fee. Okay too. If you have any doubts about this, please write me. There is a contact form on my web site at