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Can I optimize my own PC not pay the best buy geek squad?

by thomasterrible / May 19, 2009 3:10 PM PDT

I just bought a new desktop computer from Best Buy. Just as an FYI it is an HP Pavillion running Vista Home Premium 64 bit. Best buy offers to have their "Geek Squad" "Optimize" your computer for 60 plus bucks.

Just what does the Geeek Squad at Best Buy do to "optimize" my computer to make it run faster for upwards of 60 bucks and can I do these things myself?

Are these things that I can do myself and if so how?

If I am buying a brand new item from a store and it is not working at its best when it is sold to me I question the ethics of paying more to make that product work better for extra money.

It is sort of like buying a brand new car and they will give it a tune up after you buy it for extra money, I expect it to not need a tune up the second I drive it off the lot.

Thanks Much,

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It would seem you could do it yourself
by lacsr / May 19, 2009 9:00 PM PDT
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U pay for their studies. See this
by Cursorcowboy / May 19, 2009 9:14 PM PDT
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Yep. I think that should cover it.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 19, 2009 10:05 PM PDT

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Geek Squad
by thomasterrible / May 19, 2009 10:30 PM PDT

Well I am glad I did not pay them to do this mysterious service that all the salesmen say is that it makes the computer run 20-30% faster.
When I read the warranty information it talked about removing trial programs etc. as part of their extended warranty service. I am not expert but I can install and remove programs myself and most anything that you dont need to go to computer school to learn how to do such as programming. Windows vista is close enough to XP that I did not have to have any help using that with no problem. I have heard that some people dont live Vista or the 64 bit version but so far it is all working fine for me.

Not having had any special computer training I had no idea what exactly they do that they charge you for. Since I could have it done later I thought I would see what I would be paying for before shelling out the loot. It sounds like just the usual sort of stuff that you do to maintain your computer with taking off programs you dont need, which it came with next to none, and things such as that.

Sounds like I should just save my money.


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Just a thought . . .
by Coryphaeus / May 19, 2009 11:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Geek Squad

You sound pretty savvy, so just do the Add/Remove. Go through the list and find what you don't want or need. Just uninstall it. Then get a free copy of Code Stuff's Starter (Google) and it'll list everything running at startup, in plain English. Stop or remove, your choice.


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Depends on your skills
by Willy / May 20, 2009 12:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Geek Squad

Like anything else that has someone do a service for you, you have to pay. While you maybe capable others aren't or feel the time is well spend having it all done by someone else. I can replace the muffler on my car, but heck I'll let someone else do it because of the girt and grime of it all and quick return due to the tools they have to install the muffler. In light of s/w removal and such, while it may appear easy, once you actually find an issue or unknown problem(AV removal) that a quick uninstall may not cover, its nice to know they can handle it with reasonable assurance. But yeah, its another way to get some money out of you but you have the knowledge it was working before leaving the store, others aren't so lucky(it happens). You may want to check out, "DECRAPPIER", google for it and see if a 64-bit version or works on 64-bit based systems will help further in your quest.

tada -----Willy Happy

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I Think...
by 1shado1 / May 20, 2009 10:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Depends on your skills

that is "DECRAPIFIER". : )

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Pay the Geeks
by thomasterrible / May 20, 2009 11:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Depends on your skills

The issue I have with this Geek Squad "Optimization" is that they dont explain what it consists of. They simply say they will make it run 20-30% faster but dont explain how. If I need to install a muffler on my car I can make the decision to do it myself or pay someone, but if the repair shop says we can make your car run 20-30% better even though it is brand new but we wont tell you what we will do to make that happen is a different story. That is why I put this thread up here, I did not know what the Geek Squad service consisted of so I could make an informed decision. It sounds like it is just pretty basic stuff. Remove the junk you dont use. I did look up the decrapifier deal and it was not free.

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Go to 'Start' then 'Run' and type 'msconfig.exe'
by VAPCMD / May 20, 2009 12:10 PM PDT
In reply to: Pay the Geeks

Go to the startup tab. It will show you what's running at startup... you can disable anything you recognize that you don't need or want to run at startup by unchecking the applicable box.


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thomasterrible wrote:
by 1shado1 / May 20, 2009 9:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Pay the Geeks
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I saw that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 20, 2009 11:03 PM PDT
In reply to: thomasterrible wrote:

The download and use is still free!

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optimizing computer at purchase
by maggiedev / May 24, 2009 10:40 PM PDT
In reply to: Pay the Geeks

some people buy computers and are total novices. those are the ones that need geek squad to optimize their computers. those of us who have had computers are savvy enough to do it ourselves.. just remember, there are those who are not. it is not a money grabber.. it is not geek squads fault that new computers come with so much garbage. my grandson is geek squad and he will and does explain to each customer exactly what he will do to their computer and why he does it. if a geek squad does not at the outset, ask them to explain. if they give run around, demand they explain or provide you with access to a manager that will satisfy your demand. so far, i have never run across a geek squad employee that would not explain. as my grandson tells me, it is my computer and i have the right to know exactly what is being done to it.. be a bit aggressive with the money you have spent... DEMAND!

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Service or lessons
by Willy / May 25, 2009 8:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Pay the Geeks

Sorry, took so long to come back and revisit the thread.

As for your quest, you are paying for the service NOT an educational lesson on how things are done. If you look at it that way, you'll see the difference. Plus, if you consider once the cat is out of the bag, the secret is out, that will cut into the "Geek Squad" secrets ;). Don't be surprised they won't provide those step by step instructions because that's not what they're selling and would cut into their business.

The PC Decrapifier is free its the "commercial version" that is a cost.

tada -----Willy Happy

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I wouldn't
by Zouch / May 22, 2009 11:58 AM PDT

You are well on your way to doing it yourself already, since you subscribe to this newsletter. Check out CNET, Techrepublic and ZDNet and you will find all the articles you need on cleaning all the junk off your new machine, the "10 things" series for optimizing at Boot, Operational Running and Shutdown. They are all very well explained and straightforward to follow. Better yet, by doing it yourself with their help, you will gain a very good understanding of what does and doesn't influence the performance of your PC - for sure, the geek squad won't tell you and programs like decrappifier are "black boxes".

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Ten things.....
by thomasterrible / May 22, 2009 12:22 PM PDT
In reply to: I wouldn't

Could you send me the link to where that "10 things" article is?

That sounds good. I did find the decrapifier and downloaded it but it really did not do anything very sophisicated. I am a self-taught computer user and things like Windows OS systems and such are pretty intuitive. Not being an expert however I dont know if there are things I am not aware of aside from deleting programs I dont need and not having things run at start up that I recognize, sometimes there are things that dont have names in plain english so I dont know if I should keep them or not so I tend to leave what I dont understand alone.

I think reading that article you mentioned would teach me how to do things much more in depth myself and then I will know how to apply those things not just to this computer but to all the computers in the house.


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There are many
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 22, 2009 8:06 PM PDT
In reply to: Ten things.....

CNET has a range of "10 things you should...." (for Windows) articles and I am not aware that they group them together in any simplified resource list. But Google might help. I've just tried the term CNET Windows 10 things, and got a range of hits, some admittedly probably not relevant, but others might be useful.

As has been said, you're on the right track. Learning from your own experiences and seeking help when need be in forums like these is by far the best way to do it, and again, Google is your friend. It has been my friend for years, and we have this 'close' relationship. But like any close relationship, sometimes it is tempestuous. I argue with it a lot, Happy

There are some great web site resources available, and searching for terms like Vista xxxxx where xxxxx is the term you are looking for, will often find help and guidance.

When you look at Startup items, the things you need to look at are the following;

1] Unwanted 3rd party software.

VAPCMD gave you a good utility to use MSCONFIG, or the System Configuration Editor in his post here. Since you are using Vista, the method of accessing it is slightly different that in XP. In Vista, all you need to do is go to Start and in "Start Search" type in msconfig, then click the Startup tab.

Look there for the software that loads on startup. Google will help identify any entries you are not sure about. De-select the ones you don't want to load at startup.

2] Services.

These are the services that Vista has running in the background. XP has them as well, but for both OSs, not all services are needed. The Vista Services Guide web page has links to which services are necessary, or can be set to manual, or can be disabled.

Our own Vista Forum is also a great resource for help and guidance.

That should get you started, hopefully.


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There are many
by kat_usa / May 23, 2009 12:50 AM PDT
In reply to: There are many

If you find a file in MSConfig that you don't know what it does, you can use a website I found,, to search for it. It will give you a description of the file and a recommendation of whether or not you need this file on bootup. It's a handy tool.

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The `Geek RipOff Squad?
by bigbear639 / May 22, 2009 1:16 PM PDT

My GF's Computer needed some repairs and I was 2,500 miles away. She called the Geek Squad. They took $165.00 out of her Account and never showed up at the house, much less touched the computer. They claimed that she was not at home as there was no car in the driveway. She was home all day. Since when is it required to have a car? I contacted a Tech Friend and he came out and fixed the Computer in a jiffy. A loose wire to the Laptop Screen. He charged her nil.

The Geek Squad would not refund her money. contacted the Vegas Atty Gen and got her money back. Stay away from these crooks.

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Add more RAM
by GENE8 / May 22, 2009 5:43 PM PDT

Instead of paying the Geek Squad 60 bucks to optimize your PC, you can optimize it yourself simply by using that 60 bucks to buy extra RAM for your system and installing it yourself. That extra RAM will make your system run faster. My hunch is that the Geek Squad will probably do the exact same thing to your system to "optimize" it anyway.

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More Ram
by thomasterrible / May 22, 2009 7:06 PM PDT
In reply to: Add more RAM

The HP computer I bought came with 4GB RAM and a AMD Phenom X4 9150 E quad core processor. I have not opened it up so I dont know how many slots there are for the RAM or how much I can upgrade it to. It also came with a NIDIA GeForce 6150 SE graphics card.

It seems that everything is cheaper at Fry's than Best Buy, but I dont know if RAM is RAM or if brand matters.

How do I find out how many RAM slots there are and what they are to make up the 4 GB that it has now?

I did add ram to my old computer to keep it going longer and also bought an external mini hard drive 250 Gig that I moved all my thousands of old time radio shows in MP3 and photos to before the computer finally just died.

I bought this computer in a hurry and bought an enclosure to hope to move the stuff on the old hard drive to the new one. I have heard that moving programs wont be so easy though. This computer did not come with any software to speak of, just Microsoft Office Trial version. Dont computers come with preloaded software anymore?
I am tempted to use something like Limewire to get the programs they are so expensive.

I wish that person that mentioned that 10 ways to make your computer run faster article said where to find it as that may be of help too.

I just know how to remove programs and when I ran that decrapifier program it did not really seem to do much.

I think that having a quad core processor is helpful but still when I downloaded DVD Shrink and Nero 9 trial version today it seemed to take a long time, and I have Comcast that has been clocked last at over 8MBPS.

I realize that download speed depends on the server and other factors besides the theoretical capability, is there anything else I can do to increase download speed as well as getting it to boot and start faster?

I also had a hard time closing down Nero, I finally went in to task manager to make it happen and even then it took a little more.

I did copy a commercial DVD including menus that turned out well in the end though, it just took a while.

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Just a final note
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 22, 2009 8:12 PM PDT
In reply to: More Ram

You will have seen my post above, and I hope that helps, but just a final thing I would say.

I would reconsider using Limewire, or any other P2P, (Peer to Peer), resource for software. Two main reasons;

1] If you do, and anything goes wrong, these forums at CNET have a policy that prevents us from discussing such resources where they are pirated, or otherwise have copyright issues.

2] You never know quite what you are downloading. Such P2P files will often be ladened with malware, and you use at your own risk.


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Good Stuff
by thomasterrible / May 23, 2009 8:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Just a final note

I think that everyones contributions have given me the things I need to do this stuff on my own.

I am not sure if it was Windows Vista Home Premuium, which for the last post is the 64 bit version of the OS.

One neat thing I will try to find where it is coming from is when I have received error messages, it was either Norton or Windows Vista that you could click on the error number and it would lead you to the information about it. Did not even have to do a manual search in Google. If it happens again I will see where it is coming from but what a cool feature.

I agree with the Limewire, I am not trying to pirate stuff really but when I have purchased software at the store including Iolo System Mechanic and asked for help they did not give it to me, just sent form replies that were not about my issues.

Microsoft is even worse since I bought a copy of windows works 6 and my last computer died and I dont know how to load it on to this new computer even though I paid for it from a store, I have the disk but forgot the registration codes. Microsoft seems to want to charge you for any support of their products. I live about 10 minutes away from Bill Gates Estate and feel like taking my Microsoft computer issues to him personally.

I guess this is not on the same topic but if anyone can tell me how to install the MS works 9 since I still have the original disk, just not the registration code to make it work please let me know. It is installed on a second computer so if there is some way of looking it up on that one I could do so.

I like Cnet forums and the email notifications. I get multiple serious answers to my questions.

I find it interesting that nobody has yet been able to explain what the Geek Squad actually does, just guesses, perhaps there is a Geek Sqaud worker that is willing to share this information with us.

One time I had a question about getting my last computer to run better and they said what they did was to "take a picture" of the things on the computer. That made zero sense to me, I know they were not meaning taking a snapshot but still gave me no idea what they were talking about.

If they would simply tell you what they did then it would be much easier to decide to use the service. I also really doubt that they can make a new computer run 30% faster as claimed by just doing their "Optimizing" Getting rid of the junk programs and not have programs automatically start during startup is good but it wont make my computer 1/3 faster than stock, I just dont believe that. So step up Geek Squad rep and tell us all what you do!

Thanks Cnet people, I have a bunch of reading to do but will have a lot more knowledge in the end.

If I were to pay the Geek Squad for things that I dont even know what it consists of I would perhaps be getting ripped off and for sure not learn anything new. I will continue to do things myself and when I get stuck just ask you guys on Cnet, it makes me smarter and it is cheaper.


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Extra Ram and other Notes
by msgale / May 23, 2009 5:16 AM PDT
In reply to: More Ram

Unless you are running or intend to run a 64 Bit OS, your computer can not utilize more that 4 GBytes of RAM. The simplest way to remove unnecessary software, what may call "Crapware," is to wipe you C drive and reinstall your OS, assuming you have a reinstall disk. Personally I am unconvinced that the "Crapware" is a significant problem. Applications that don't run do not use resources the impact other applications. Currently I have eighty-two processing, more than thirty of the have used less the one second of CPU time. I last booted my PC 9 Days 8 Hours 57 Minutes 8 seconds ago. PS, I am aware that there is one exception to the 4 GByte limit, but it doesn?t apply.

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I am running Vista Home Premium 64
by thomasterrible / May 24, 2009 11:03 PM PDT

I am using the quad core processor and the 64 bit OS. But the more I have used the Norton 360 the more I like it. I have gone in and manually adjusted things, but the new Norton program also has a pc tuneup section and one of the options is startup file options.

I can get McAffee for free because my ISP is Comcast but they have had such a poor product it was not worth free. I used to feel the same way about Norton but with the new one it has many features, updates fast, scans fast, and has really surprised me. I am downloading Cnets most recommended free anti-virus program and will run it and see if it finds anything Norton does not, but I am getting more convinced that I will end up purchasing the Norton 360 when the trial is up due to its features and performance so far.

I will see how much RAM my computer can take and when it is on sale add what I can just to max it out for little money.

After reading and trying various suggestions from the forum I now have a handle on this and I am pretty confident that I am set up pretty well now.

It is just curiousity now about the Geek Squad not telling you what they do but that it will make your computer run 20-30% faster than stock new. I really dont believe that to be true and would like to see some speed tests run before and after they do whatever it is they do and if it does not make the computer that much faster not pay for it. When they are unwilling to tell you what they are going to do aside from how much money they want it is pretty suspicious to me.

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Just a final note, again, :)
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 25, 2009 3:45 AM PDT

Beware with installing another anti-virus with Norton's anti-virus still running. They might conflict because they will want to inspect and scan the same files at the same time if they both run in the background.

It's interesting to see what you say about Norton. We often see reports in these forums about how Norton is a resource hog, and it takes over the system and reduces performance, but your own experience is entire different.

It seems to me the difference with your system is that it is a quad core with a 64 bit OS, so the system can assign dedicated processing to Norton in the background and continue with whatever you are doing.

That's it from me. Honest!


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Norton 360
by thomasterrible / May 25, 2009 4:17 AM PDT

I was as surprised as anyone because my previous experience with Norton was not much better than McAffee. I always wondered why the two biggest players did not have the best software. But my cheap laptop I bought new at the same time as the desktop just to have something for use upstairs that came with 360 and it is just on a Emachine d16-15-133 which I got new for 300 bucks with Vista home basic and Norton 360 trial and it worked nice on that computer which is why I put it on the desktop.

Yes everything runs faster on this computer because it is both new and has the quad core processor and I have removed all the junk by various means including some suggested to me in a thread here on Cnet. It seems like running multiple programs dont slow it down at all.

That Avira Antivirus only found one tracking cookie and 360 finds more that that. I am really seriously considering paying for Norton 360 as the more I use it the better I like it and again it is fast.

I still will not touch McAffee even though it comes free with Comcast service because it was such a poor program. When I had my old computer that died a week ago to prompt me to get this one in a hurry on the old one I had resorted to two free anti virus programs installed but would only have one running at a time and the other turned off and would manually close down the usual one and run the second one and after the scan shut it back down again. I dont know if this solves the issue of having more than one antivirus program but it worked for me.

What about running windows Defender with anything else?

I know there are faster computers but for 629 I got this ab6700y with 20 inch widescreen LDC monitor and a low end all in one printer I dont need. So I had little time to shop but even though it is within the return period which I thought I could look around to see if there were better deals withough paying more and could not find them really.
Also I love the media card slots on the front of the computer rather than hooking up cords from my camera to the pc etc. I put a mini SD chip in the slot from my camera and it read it in a flash and had everything downloaded fast too.

Perhaps that was off topic so sorry but if you have not used Norton 360 personally I would suggest you check it out since I am no expert but find this program very well made, perhaps you could figure out why I am having such good luck with it in more technical terms.

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Yes Windows Defender is fine.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 25, 2009 7:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Norton 360

I use it myself. It's an anti-spyware and you can set it to run in the background, or turn that setting off.

I suspect that your new Norton 360 also has anti-spyware scanning options, and as long as only one is running in the background, there's no conflict.

Here's the basic rules;

1] Only one Firewall.

2] Only one anti-virus. While you can have two or more installed, only one should run in the background. The other(s) can be used as 'double check' scanners. Your main anti-virus updated daily and an automatic scan daily.

3] More than one anti-spyware utility installed. Spyware is different to viruses and comes in different forms. No single anti-spyware will catch all types. All of them kept up to date, and a full scan once or twice a week with your main one, and perform double-check scans with the others (not so) regularly.

The majors, Norton, McAfee, AVG, etc now have integrated firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, in the one product. If they work for you that's fine, but keep one or two other anti-spywares around for the odd double-check.


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Am doing so
by thomasterrible / May 25, 2009 8:39 AM PDT

Yes much like my last computer when I used AVG free edition as the main all the time running protection and left super anti spyware se on the computer inactive but would then turn the first one off update the second and do a scan then turn it back off to only AVG again.

So far to be honest the best product I have used on either this computer or my cheapo 300 buck laptop even has been the Norton 360. It covers most everything is fast and has a pc optimization tool that works well and fast also.

So sure it helps to have the quad core processor but my Emachine 300 buck laptop can also run Norton 360 just fine also.

I had purchased System Mechanic at the store and it was never that great, scans took forever, it would say that I had not yet run a scan before even though I had been for many months, the customer support on that was horrible when it had problems. So I knew I would not be getting that again.

But the Norton 360 is working out great and I am going to buy the full version. They have a 360 premium that costs more but I checked that out and it does not have any better features than the less expensive regular 360. Except for defrag of RAM Norton does what system mechanic did just faster and better.

360 defrags the drives, removes temp windows files, outdated explorer files, internet history (that I dont use) registry clean up, a diagnostic report, and startup manager to manage the start up programs easily. And then also does the Security features and Identity protection and a back up utility. So it really runs well on this computer and even if I am running a scan it wont slow down if I happen to have another program open.

Unlike McAffe I think that Norton has finally put out a decent product.

I installed both the Avira Antivirus and the CClean, but neither of them found anything when Norton did.

I will go ahead and buy the Norton 360 and intsall AVG as the back up program to leave off until I double check with it.

I wish that McAffe would also put out something better but I get the full version for free by having comcast and it is so bad that I dont use it if that tells you how useless I feel it is.

I will check the defender setting.


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Um... I can't believe I'm saying this - Just a final note!
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 25, 2009 7:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Am doing so

About AVG, I would be wary. I still use it as my only anti-virus, but the new version, AVG 8.5, is very different from the previous versions. AVG now installs a lot more Processes, and while your new system will be able to cope with the increase, it may not be that easy to halt, or close down each process permanently, or to limit AVG to run only certain components, eg its anti-spyware component, without running everything else.

In fact when I upgraded to AVG 8.5 I wanted to disable its anti-spyware component so I could retain my other main anti-spyware utility as a background, running, application, but I couldn't find a way to disable it. So I had to switch to AVG and turn off the other.

May I say something? You seem to be intent on installing two or more anti-virus utilities, and using the other(s) as occasional scanner(s). There really is no need for that, and one anti-virus is all the system requires. The difficulty nowadays is that many security applications attempt to 'do everything', firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, optimizers, etc. If you find one that you are happy with, then that's great. But to install other all-round software is not necessary.

It is necessary, in my view and that of many others here, to install secondary stand-alone anti-spyware utilities to perform ad-hoc scans, but we now need to be careful that the software we obtain to do that is limited to anti-spyware, and does not attempt to do everything else.

I hope that makes sense.

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I think I understand

So since I am happy with Norton 360 on my computer I should have a second anti-spyware program that is normally turned off, but not AVG because it has more features than that?

Does windows defender count?

I just removed Avira and just have Norton now.

I was not intent on having multiple anti-virus programs but when I was running two free ones on my previous computer I would have one on all the time and then turn it off and start the second one just for a scan and then turn it back off. Is this what you are suggesting I do with the new one?

Use Norton 360 which I really like and have a free anti-spyware program but not an all in one type that I keep off except for when I run the occasional "second opinion scan" If so what is a good second program to add to the computer along with my main Norton 360 which again I am pretty impressed with.

I will never use the free McAffee that comes with comcast.

I installed avira and it did not seem to be that good to me.

I am happy with just Norton and if I need it some secondary program that may have different definitions downloaded. If that is what you are suggesting what should the second program be. If it appears I am not getting what you are telling me feel free to let me know.

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