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Windows Defender

Everyone is familiar with the ability to download software from the Internet, whether it be something to share files, games to play, or something to watch the weather. What you may not be aware of, is that some of these programs may also be tracking what you do on your computer and on the network. They may also be the cause of the slow performance on your system as well as the pop-up ads you are seeing on your computer and additional junk e-mail that you receive. Unlike Ad-Aware, Windows Defender offers real-time protection that helps prevent your computer from being infected by spyware, in addition to removing what is already present.

Below are the instructions for downloading, installing, and using Windows Defender effectively.

1. Download Defender by click this link... when prompted, choose SAVE. Save it somewhere convenient such as your Desktop or My Documents.

2. Install Defender... Double-click on the Windows Defender installer (it will be named defender.msi, or whatever you choose to name it) that you downloaded to your desktop. Follow the steps to install the program. NOTE: Pay careful attention to the prompts. Although we strongly recommend using Defender's "Recommended" options, we also recognize that many people do not wish to send samples to Microsoft for testing. For that reason, some users may wish to use the "Install Updates Only" option instead of the Recommended settings. Either setting is acceptable.

3. Run Ad-Aware

When the installation is complete, an icon will be placed in your Start Menu > Programs listing that looks like:

Defender Icon You should click on this icon.

4. If your system is "Clean" then the Defender home page will show:

Defender Home

5. To run a scan, click the Scan button. During the scan you will see:

Defender Scan

6. When the scan completes the results will be shown, and you will see one of the following screens:

Defender Clean

Defender Results

7. If Defender detects that you have unwanted items, you have two choices... You can either choose Remove All and Defender will automatically shut them down and remove them from your system... or you can choose "Review items" and pick and choose components that you may want to "Ignore" as shown here:

Defender Results

8. In this instance, we chose to Ignore BearShare, but we opted to Remove WhenU.SaveNow. Most of the time, you will want to choose Remove All, but it's never a bad idea to check for exceptions.

Advanced Options

1. Windows Defender also has some decent diagnostic tools built into it as well. It can show you what programs are running (offering descriptions and details about those tasks), and it can show you which programs are connecting to the network. You can access these tools by click Tools, and choosing Software Explorer.

Defender Software Explorers

2. In the image above, you can see the list of programs that run "on startup"... usually these are all the icons for programs that run in the lower right corner near the clock. Each program is listed with all the versions and file locations on the right when you click on them, so it's a good idea to look at the list from time to time to make sure you know what's running and why.

Defender Network Tools

3. Windows Defender can also show you the list of programs that are connecting to the network. If your computer or Internet connection is running very slowly, chances are good that something is causing the problem by making a lot of connections. In the list above, you can see that Windows Live Messenger is running and that it is connecting to a foreign (outside) address at 205.177.95.93. In this case, it happens to be Microsoft, so the program is OK. However, if you see a program that connects to many different IP addresses it's a good idea to ask yourself-- should this program be running like this?