Fixing a virus and spyware-ridden Windows XP

Posted on September 5, 2007

Dear Lazyweb,

This coming weekend I’ll be performing a thorough cleansing of a Windows XP PC which, by the description that was made by the users, is probably filled with spyware and maybe even some viruses (despite the fact that it has Norton’s Antivirus suite installed and –I’ve been assured– religiously updated).

Now I know that this will most likely end up in a complete re-install of the system and since the users have dutifully been doing their backups to an external hard drive I should be able to just leave it at that but… The backups have got to be infected with some viruses so I will have to clean some stuff up no matter what.
Also, I would really rather not go into the fresh install thing because it will just mean a lot more trouble with all the apps they need.

So what I need is to find out what the cool kids are using these days to rid their PCs of the vermin. I haven’t done windows in ages (and I mean years thank goodness) so I’m really out of the loop here.
The last time I had to do something like this I found out an article entitled “How to fix mom’s computer” or somesuch but I can’t seem to find the article now and besides, it was a long time ago so it is probably outdated.

So in short, Dear Lazyweb, can you tell me what I should arm myself with in order to get all those nasty bugs out of the system?

Thanks a bunch!

Yous faithfully,

Nuno ‘Lazy’ Nunes