Must Have Software To Backup The Windows Registry

December 26, 2014

The Windows operating system is dependent on a built in component called the registry that is a centralized storage (database) area that all-in-all manages the operation of your Windows computer. The registry stores and manages your Windows system configuration, computer hardware, information about installed programs, program associations and user preferences. I often refer to the registry as the brain of Windows.

During the operation of your computer, Windows continually references the registry, via a structured hierarchy of keys, subkeys, and named values; to ensure the consistent operation of your computer. For example, when you install hardware and/or software on your computer, the registry is often accessed and modified. The registry can also be manually edited with the right amount of understanding and expertise. The whole point here is that the registry is a sensitive part of the operating system and can be corrupted due to a bad hardware/software install, improper editing by the user and most commonly through a malware infection.

To bail out of these type of situations, most users will often use Windows Restore, in an attempt to recover the system; however, I have found through experience that the Windows Restore is not always the answer and does not always work (especially if it is a malware infection).

A solution that I use is a utility, made by Tweaking.com, called Registry Backup. This utility has been specifically developed to backup the registry either manually or automatically (at scheduled intervals). With this utility I typically backup the registry prior to any software installs, hardware installs and/or Windows Updates (which also can cause issues). In the event a problem occurs, you can restore the registry via one of the backups that you created; and, if you are saavy enough to understand the registry it is possible to backup only specific areas of the registry with this utility.

Registry Backup

This program contains the follow features:

  • One click backup and restore.
  • Can restore from Windows Safe Mode.
  • Can restore from the Windows Recovery Console
  • Portable version can be ran from a thumb drive and keep backups of multiple systems.
  • Automatic cleanup of older backups.
  • Set and control scheduling options.
  • Can backup & restore all user profiles on the system, not just the ones that are currently loaded.
  • Control which registry files are backed up or restored.
  • Detailed logs are saved with each backup.
  • Multiple easy restore options.
  • Online videos showing how to use the program and how to use the different restore options.

Windows XP/Vista/7/8 — 32-bit program. Can run on both a 32-bit and 64-bit OS.

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Keep An Installed Copy of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (FREE) On Your PC

December 22, 2014

I have featured the FREE version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware in the past and thought this would be a good time to once again promote this “must have” security software. One thing to point out at the start is that the FREE version of Malwarebytes is only a scanning utility and does not provide real-time protection. You can get the real-time protection by purchasing the commercial version of their software. Don’t let this deter you from downloading the FREE version. I use the FREE version and make a habit to manually download the updates and perform routine scans of my computer.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the best out there when it comes to detection and removal of Malware. According to OPSWAT, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the most popular security product installed by users. I guess the important thing I am trying to get across is that it is important to have this software on your PC so that you can fire it up, at a moments noticed, when you suspect a problem.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware’s industry-leading scanner detects and removes malware like worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and more. All you have to do is launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and run a scan. It’s that simple. Or if you want even better protection, consider Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium and its instant real-time scanner that automatically prevents malware and websites from infecting your PC. Either way you’re crushing malware and foiling hackers…

Anti-Malware/Anti-Spyware – Detects and eliminates malware your antivirus will miss.

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit – Removes rootkits and repairs the files they damage.

Advanced Malware Removal – Employs industry-leading technology to completely remove malware code.

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Getting rid of that old computer? If so, you need to Boot and Nuke It

December 18, 2014

If you are in a position where it is “out with the old computer” and “in with the new computer”, please keep in mind it is important to make sure that the data on the old computer is not compromised. What many folks typically do is “packrat” the old computer by putting it aside, for sometimes years; OR, they will give it away as a donation, etc… No matter the scenario, it is very important that you make sure the computer does not leave your possession until your personal information and data has been removed and/or destroyed. The only way(s) to ensure that your personal information is safe is to either remove and destroy the drive(s) or use software that is engineered to wipe the drive(s) (of everything).

An option to consider, for home based computer users, is the open source program called DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke. This program has been around for many years and was acquired by a company in Finland called Blancco in 2012. One of Blancco’s products is a powerful and secure data erasure tool that is geared toward the enterprise level of computing; however, DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke is free erasure software designed for the home user. I can attest that this software will adequately serve the needs of the home based computer user when it comes to data removal.

DBAN is free erasure software designed for the home user. It automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. DBAN is also a commonly used solution to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations.

Here’s how it works: I downloaded the DBAN ISO image file, wrote the ISO image to a CD and booted it on my old PC. You may have to go into the BIOS on the old computer to change the boot order so that the computer will boot from the CD. 

Once DBAN has booted, you will be presented with the following screen. At this screen you can type autonuke, press enter, and DBAN will do the rest for you (using the default settings). The Autonuke mode should be a sufficient in removing data from the computer.

DBAN start screen

 

The screenshot below is an example of the progress you will see. Erasing data on a drive, depending on the drive size and the amount of data, can take hours.

DBAN running in autonuke mode

 

When DBAN is finished, it will display a message similar what you see below to indicate that the CD can be removed and the computer powered off. You can feel confident that your data has been “nuked”.

DBAN autonuke finished message

 

Interactive Mode

There is also an interactive mode that you can select at the first screen, by hitting Enter. This mode gives you greater control (i.e. you can select the pseudo-random number generator, wiping method, verification method and rounds).

DBAN interactive

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Terminate Known Malware Processes With RKill – Then Run Your Security Software

December 15, 2014

Did you ever wrestle with a Malware infection, think you have the PC cleaned; but, when you reboot the PC it comes back with a vengeance? This is where you need to have the utility by BleepingComputer.com, called RKill in your toolbox.

What RKill does is that it will attempt to terminate known malware processes.  It does not delete any files and only stops the malware processes from temporarily occurring, giving you that window of opportunity to run your security software (such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware). To learn, in detail, what RKill does and and what it doesn’t — click here

Below is what RKill looks like running, in a console screen. That console screen will continue to run until it RKill has finished. Once finished, the box will close and a log will be displayed showing all of the processes that were terminated by RKill and while RKill was running.

RKill

RKill just kills 32-bit and 64-bit malware processes and scans the registry for entries that would not allow you to run various legitimate programs. When scanning the Registry, Rkill will search for malicious Image File Execution Objects, DisallowRuns entries, executable hijacks, and policies that restrict your use of various Windows utilities. When changing Windows Registry entries it will create a backup of these entries and save them in the rkill folder on your desktop. Each registry backup will contain a time stamp so that the backups are not overwritten on subsequent runs of Rkill. For a list of changes in Rkill, please see the change log at the bottom of this post.

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Backup The Content Of Your Website (or any Website) With HTTrack Website Copier

December 3, 2014

In addition to What’s On My PC and Bookmarks4techs, I also maintain a private site at Blogger for the condo community for which I reside. The content of these sites, all of my making, are very important to me. The easiest and most confident way I found to locally keep a mirrored copy (of each site) is to use the open source software called HTTrack Website Copier.

HTTrack Website Copier

 HTTrack Website Copier allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

When I use HTTrack Website Copier I typically go with the default configuration settings and follow the below steps:

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A Troubleshooting Tool To Delete Potentially Unwanted Software (such as adware, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms)

November 16, 2014

Recently during a software install I found myself in a hurry and noticed about halfway through the install I was authorizing third party installs (of other software) that was piggy backing the software that I really wanted to install. Needless to say I do not like the idea of software developers doing this; especially when the third party software is very questionable in nature. I know the developers work very hard and need a source of income, but they are affecting their reputation when the third party software installs are sketchy in nature. So, please; when installing any software make sure you read the initial install instructions and if there is a selection to customize the install, make sure you do that so that you can see specifically what is being installed. Anyhow, I have been testing Windows software for many years and found myself, due to being in a rush, becoming the victim. I knew immediately that I pulled the trigger on something that I did not want…

FreeFixerTo remedy my issue, where a third party start page modifier (browser hijacker) was installed, I performed research on the name of the poison I was seeing and then I ran a utility called FreeFixer to analyze and help me fix the problem.

FreeFixer

FreeFixer scans a large number of locations where unwanted software has a known record of appearing or leaving traces. The scan locations include the programs that run on your computer, the programs that starts when you reboot your computer, your browser’s plug-ins, your home page setting, etc.

Now, the catcher to FreeFixer is that following the scan that it performs (which is very extensive and impressive) it does not know what is unwanted, so it presents the scan results and it is up to you to determine what needs removed and/or set back to their default settings. The good here, following a scan by FreeFixer is that you can get more info on a suspicious file by click on the “more info” selection; AND, if you delete a selection the file selection is quarantined where you can restore from in the event you mess up.

In cases where FreeFixer is unable to delete files in normal Windows mode they are registered for delayed removal with FreeFixer’s Native Deleter, which removes the files upon the next reboot. The actual delete operation is done before the logon screen appear. The majority of malware can be deleted at this point.

In the end, I am finding that you need to have a good understanding of the Windows architecture in order to use this powerful utility. FreeFixer is definitely a tech toolbox keeper. There is a 32bit and 64bit version of FreeFixer available as a full install or portable app.

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Malware Herd Protection For Your PC

October 11, 2014

What is that old saying, “there is strength in numbers?”… Malware is the leading cause to computer problems today that is also criminal in nature. What I have discovered over the years that no single anti-malware or anti-virus program can give you protection 100 percent of the time.

This is where the cloud sourced program called herdProtect can help, as your second line of defense against malware, by providing strength in numbers. herdProtect utilizes a ‘herd’ of multiple online anti-malware engines (68 engines to be exact) to guarantee the widest coverage and the earliest possible detection. As a second line of defense anti-malware solution, herdProtect is designed to run with any existing anti-virus program already installed on a user’s PC. herdProtect is a free service to help user’s find and remove malicious software; and, is an excellent resource to run, after an infection, when you think you have a computer cleaned of malware using your own anti-malware software. herdProtect is available as a full windows install or can be downloaded and run as a portable app.

herdProtect - Anti-Malware

The herdProtect scanning engine works by monitoring the active objects (processes, modules, drivers, etc.) on a user’s PC as well as the hundreds of auto-start execution points (ASEPs). As new objects such as processes become active in the system, herdProtect will use a secured network tunnel to scan the object for malware against the engines of the top 68 anti-malware scanners. By scanning in the cloud all processor intensive activities are performed independent of the user’s PC. Depending on the aggregate results of the scan, the user can then take the appropriate actions and keep their PC free from any known malware threats.

 


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