Frequently Asked QuestionsEdit
Welcome to the Reddit r/Techsupport FAQ. The goal of the FAQ is to help those in need with guides and information on typical technology issues as well as helping our fellow Redditors expand their tech help knowledge.
What is the best anti-virus program?Edit
There is no best anti-virus program. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some have less negative impact on computer performance, while others have better detection rates (the number of viruses a program detects). However, any of the top tier anti-virus programs should be enough for the average system.
Many tech sites will have regular reviews or comparisons of anti-virus programs. There are also groups that do independent testing.
Note: You should only install one anti-virus program since they may conflict with each other.
Most anti-virus programs will allow you to scan your entire system or individual files. Ideally, you'll want a program that offers real-time protection, which means it is running all the time.
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is the most recommended anti-virus program on /r/techsupport. It is free, has decent detection rates, and very little impact on performance. Avast!, AVG and Avira are also viable anti-virus solutions.
Many people also recommend a general anti-malware software like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This is designed to be used in conjunction with real-time protection, so you will need to manually conduct scans (or set them up automatically.)
What the difference between a virus, a worm, spyware, etc.?Edit
Malware is the catch-all term for all bad software. It is shorthand for malicious software and in can include viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, and rootkits. In the most general sense, malware is software that does something detrimental to the computer without the user's knowledge or permission.
Many people use the term virus to cover other types of malware (basically substituting virus for malware). This might lead to confusion because a virus has a specific definition, but in reality, most anti-virus programs are now anti-malware, so the process for removing a virus isn't too different from removing a worm, for example.
The definitions are mostly academic. It doesn't matter what it is, if it's bad, you need to get rid of it.
The most common definition for a Virus is a program that attaches to data or another program, replicates itself and then spreads to other computers. A virus typically causes data loss or corruption, though some can operate without the user's knowledge.
A Worm is a program that replicate and spreads itself across a computer network. It differs from a virus in that it doesn't need to attach to a program; it is self-contained software. Some worms simply exist to replicate, but can cause damage to networks due to bandwidth usage. Some spread and infect computers with viruses or trojans.
A Trojan is malware that masquerades as legitimate software. They are often used to allow a bad guy to control the infected computer. This controlled computer can now be used to send spam or attack websites. Another common type of trojan is a fake anti-virus program that asks the user for payment information in order to remove a non-existent virus.
A Rootkit is malware that hides itself from the operating system. This makes it difficult to find with anti-virus programs. Rootkits can be used to hide other malware. The most effective way to detect and remove rootkits is by scanning the system outside of the installed OS, via a scanner that runs on the hard drive before the OS loads.
Spyware is malware that watches the computer and collects information about the user's activity. This information can range from financial information for direct theft or it can be used to track web activity which is then sold to advertisers
Adware is software that displays ads while using the computer. This can be in the way of popup ads or via plugins installed in the web browser. Not all adware is malware. If the program asks for permission and warns the user about the ads, then it isn't technically doing anything detrimental to the computer. However, many people still find this kind of software annoying.
Often several different types of malware will be used in order to attack a computer. For example, a worm may spread onto a computer and install a rootkit that hides a trojan. So removing one part of the problem does not guarantee the problem is solved.
What is a firewall? Do I need a firewall? Is the Windows firewall enough?Edit
Although they can be helpful, it is often recommended that users don't install a third party firewall. To understand why, you need to know what they do and what the danger is.
You may have heard that if you leave an unprotected Windows PC on the internet, it will soon be infected with malware. This is because there are so many infected machines running that are constantly sending out infectious code to every port at random IP addresses. So if that infected PC tries to connect to your unprotected PC, then yours will now be infected.
Now, if you put that PC behind a router with Network Address Translation (NAT), then it should protect against unsolicited incoming connections. You might still be vulnerable to malware, but not in the same way.
Notice that is unsolicited incoming connections. If it blocked all connections, then networking wouldn't work. So if the connection originates on the computer, then the router will allow the response. For example, if you load your web browser, and type an address, it will send out the request, your router will allow the connection and once it receives a response, your router will allow it in.
That's where a software firewall comes in. It will allow you to filter and control outgoing connections. So now when you load your browser, the software firewall will ask you if you want to allow that outgoing connection.
The reason some people recommend programs beyond the built-in Windows firewall, is because it is relatively easy to get around. For example, you might not even know you have a firewall because a lot of standard programs are allowed to get through.
Now, you may think outbound filtering is a good idea, since if you have malware, you would want to prevent it from getting out. So why don't people recommend them as consistently as anti-virus programs?
Well, partly because they are annoying. Most people don't need to micromanage every single connection to the internet that a computer makes. It's just another thing that needs to be updated and monitored. It's more trouble than it's worth in most case.
And in the case that a computer is infected, it means the malware was able to circumvent the anti-virus protection, so there is no reason to think it can't get around the firewall. Once the system is compromised, the entire system should be considered untrustworthy. There is never any way to tell what things are hidden away, waiting to reinfect the PC.
So basically, a software firewall doesn't really prevent malware from being run on your computer, it could possible notify you if there are strange connection requests (however, that's not even a guarantee), and the rest of the time it is just annoying you.
So that's why it is often recommend a user just sit behind a NAT-enabled router (all routers basically), keep their anti-virus up to date (because it will protect against most malware) and not run any suspicious programs or scripts.
Why are there green stripes/odd colors on my youtube videos?Edit
The cause is probably drivers or GPU hardware or something, but the solution is pretty simple. Simply right click on the youtube video. Select "Settings" and on the popup box, make sure the checkbox for "Enable Hardware Acceleration" is unchecked.
Why won't some websites load?Edit
Common reason for this problem is that the system clock is incorrect.
Additionally, you may wish to attempt to change your DNS.
Set the primary dns to 126.96.36.199
Set the secondary dns to 188.8.131.52
Can my employer see what I browse?
Short answer: Yes.