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A dozen tools for removing almost any malware

Need to get a system clean of malware and/or verify that it’s completely malware-free? Use one or more of these free tools to clean up even the worst malware infections — and keep PCs clean.

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Microsoft’s six free desktop security tools

These free utilities can prevent or cure trouble caused by viruses, worms, spyware, keyloggers, and other kinds of unwanted software. Whether you’re keeping your PC free from malware or cleaning up a PC that’s already infected, one or more of these tools should get the job done!

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Some excellent RSS alternatives to Google Reader

On July 1, Google will kill off (or retire, as the company puts it) Google Reader — officially because of declining usage, but also perhaps for privacy issues, according to various reports. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of RSS-reader alternatives that make it easier to read the content you care about.

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The malware wars: How you can fight it

A tip-filled conversation with Andrew Brandt, director of threat research at Solera Networks, reveals some of the ways hackers sneak malware into PCs. Malware most often embeds itself with our unwitting help, but even when we have our defenses fully up, malware can still climb aboard. Nevertheless, there are practical and effective ways to defeat it — or clean it out after the fact.

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Two free, full-blown alternatives to MS Office

As Microsoft’s Office has grown in size and complexity, more than a few users have wondered whether there’s a viable alternative — especially when it comes time to pay for an upgrade or new copy. There are very few alternatives. Two — Open Office and LibreOffice — provide the core functionality of classic versions of Microsoft Office and are completely free!

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Surviving your first hour with Office 2013

If you’ve looked into Office 2013’s “improvements,” they might have struck you — as they did me — as largely gratuitous, cumbersome, and designed more to add to Microsoft’s coffers than to improve Office productivity. Fortunately, there are ways rid yourself of Office 2013’s worst changes — if you know the tricks.

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Security alert: Bogus tech-support phone calls

“Hello. This is Microsoft Tech Support. Your PC has notified us that it has an infection.” The call is a scam — an extremely prevalent one. Here’s how it works and what you need to know to stay out of the trap.

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House Call 2013 — Part 2: Prepping for an upgrade

In this second part of my House Call visit with Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry, we clean up a cranky Vista notebook and upgrade it to Windows 8. The cleanup process included updating software, checking drivers, and removing unnecessary files from the hard drive before installing Windows 8.

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House Call 2013 — Part 1: Sanitizing a drive

The 2013 House Call series starts with a trip to Florida and a day spent helping Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry with her PC problems. Coming from the Northeast, I found Sarasota refreshingly warm and green; but fixing Pam’s PCs was a challenge — multiple systems running various versions of Windows, each with different issues.

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Legitimate app breaks popular encryption systems

Conventional wisdom has been that files protected with good encryption can’t be cracked. But a new, $300, wizard-driven app can unlock BitLocker-, PGP-, and TrueCrypt-encrypted files, folders, and drives — no matter how strong a password you’re using.

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