Look, not everyone is a computer genius. I know that. The computer guy who hates you knows that. I'm sure that when cars came out, the first generation of owners needed to have a working knowledge of the engine so they could fix it when it started flinging horse shit out of the radiator every 17 feet (I don't know how old cars work). Then as cars became more common, not everyone had the time or the skill for that, so "mechanic" became a viable job. But you still needed to know how to put air in the tires and gas in the tank, and how to get bloodstains out of the trunk.
Every tech monkey will tell you it's the same with computers. If you have a parent, grandparent, or child just getting into computers for the first time, do the world a favor and teach them these basic misconceptions before you end up getting the call to come over and clean the horse shit out of their processor (I assume processors work like old cars).
You know how you keep telling your mom that those pop-up virus scanners and late night TV commercials are scams? The ones that claim that they can make your computer faster and get rid of the evil plague of viruses that inhabit all computers at all times? You know, like this one:
And you know how, as many times as you've told her that these are scams, she just keeps falling for it over and over, telling you that she knows it's a legitimate program because it found things that were wrong with her computer and then fixed them for her? And how she believes that it's against the law for commercials to bold-faced lie to their potential customers? I need you to bring her to the computer right now and have her read the following message:
That program didn't find or fix jack shit. You're wrong, and the person who's been warning you about those programs is more right than you will ever be about any subject as long as you live. Listen to the person showing you this paragraph, because I cannot stress enough how incredibly right they are and how catastrophically, embarrassingly wrong you are.
Those programs are purposely designed to be deceitful -- to trick you into thinking that it discovered hundreds or even thousands of "infected" files on your system, all while pumping actual bad files into what could very well be a perfectly clean computer. The way they make their money is by tricking you into thinking you have problems, showing you a fake report loaded with lots of red text and X's ...
"But I just bought the computer! How could- oooooohhh."
... and then charging you $40 ("Activate Your Software" in the above image) to "fix" the "problems."
One thing you are correct about, Mom, is that it is as illegal as a child fuck to practice deceptive advertising in this manner. And these sorts of companies have already built reputations as con artists and pieces of shit, and courts have already had to step in and shut down their advertisements, if only temporarily.
They will use any means necessary to get your money and personal information. The only reason they haven't broken into your house and directly stolen your purse is because they aren't just criminals ... they're lazy fuckheads who can't even bother getting their fat asses out of their own chairs in order to steal. No, your computer probably didn't have viruses. It had a dishonest program on it, choking the life out of your system. And you paid money for it.
Good rule of thumb: If the program starts with "My," it's probably a piece of shit scam.
"But," you'll interject ...
The problem here is that people use the word "virus" to mean "bad program doing weird things to my computer," but there are some important distinctions to make, because they have different solutions. If you do have a nasty virus -- an actual virus -- there's an excellent chance you'll need to get help from a professional. But what you probably have is much easier to fix.
If I've fixed 500 computers in my life, I can count on one hand how many of them had an actual "virus." The rest were all malware, an overload of spyware, or a Trojan horse, all of which are much easier to remove.
Usually with a sort of chopping motion.
And yes, even you can do it, Grandma! I know I just made you afraid of free "fix my computer" software, but there are some that not only are safe to download, but are really must-haves: Spybot and Malwarebytes. Download, follow the instructions, and they'll give your computer a much-needed bullshit enema. There's a good chance your "virus" will flush right out, without having to bother any of your more tech-savvy friends.
"But I'm computer illiterate. What if I mess someth-"
Just run the goddamn fucking programs! It cannot be easier than how I've just made it for you. It's time to stop annoying your children or grandchildren and start learning this shit for yourself. I'm asking you to click a few buttons ... the same thing that some of you pay a "computer guy" hundreds of dollars to do. Once you click those, it really is as easy as just walking away while the scanners do their thing. When you come back later, you'll see another button that says something like "Fix this bullshit." Click that bitch, and you're done. Then the next time your younger "computer genius" relative comes over, you can say, "I learned how to fix the computer myself. I finally realized that you're just a dumbass who knows how to use Google. Your computer skills ain't shit, asshole. Get out of my house, you worthless fraud. You bring our family nothing but shame."
"Just ... don't even look at me. You make me sick."
Now, if you are unlucky enough to get an actual virus (which can do anything from hijacking your whole system to turning it into a useless brick), those can take some research and a little more than average skill, because some viruses can be particularly nasty. If that's the case, you may be forced to call your relative again and sweet talk your way past their previous memories of you being a condescending prick to them. And even then, you may be saying ...
There are several problems I've run into concerning antivirus programs over the years. The first is more of a user problem: They think that just because they have an antivirus, they cannot get a virus. I understand why some people would think this, especially newer users. Hell, the name of the program itself implies that it stops all threats. Every last one of them makes itself out to sound like a goddamn laser-guided military defense system, so why wouldn't people give it their trust?
The truth is that, yes, they are very good at protecting against viruses that already exist and are in their updated databases. But it is physically impossible to protect against all of them because there are viruses that exist right now that didn't exist when you started reading this article. They cannot just scan a download, spot a virus like a hidden gun in an airport X-ray machine, and pull it out of that program's butthole, making a champagne cork popping sound. Nor can it just "read the code," as one of my friends once put it, identify how it will act when installed, and then modify that code to remove the threat.
OK, settle down there, chief. It's not quite Minority Report just yet.
The second major problem I've found is that people have been led to believe that the best antivirus is one that you pay for. And I've found many cases where the person thought that the McAfee or Norton that came with their computer was the only option. When they find out that there are many free alternatives, they automatically think it's a scam, because nothing is free, right? And that's when irony spin kicks my dick clean off of my body and then picks it up and tries to fuck me with it.
The truth is, there are very few times when someone just randomly gets a virus or a Trojan out of the blue. It almost always comes from places like porn sites or ones that offer free programs like games, screen savers, and modification tools that turn your mouse into a kitten with hearts and rainbows shooting out of its asshole.
Just doing a basic Google Search on the program you're about to download will give you a pretty damn good heads up on whether it's legit or about to take a shit in your hard drive. For instance, you're trying to install Dick Flopwhip Penis Poker when the "Next" screen tells you that it will install a toolbar called MyWebSearch. Eh, it's just a toolbar, right? But just to be sure, you Google it:
When most (or all) of the results outside of the program's own website are nothing but people giving you instructions on how to unfuck your computer, it's probably best to just skip this one.