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Originally published Friday, August 30, 2013 at 4:10 PM

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Free download might try to slip in something extra

Even useful malware-protection software can come with offers for unwanted applications. It’s up to users to make sure all the unwanted boxes are unchecked and all the prompts are clicked properly.

Special toThe Seattle Times

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Another great Q&A column! But I stumbled over this sentence: "I’d... MORE
Dale, there are no boxes necessary to uncheck when installing Malwarebytes, because... MORE
Malware runs amuck, and yet how many times has Marshall blithely counseled his readers... MORE

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Q: I read with interest the question in a recent column about Malwarebytes.org (Q&A, Aug. 17). I, too, wound up with the same issue.

Every time I start my computer, the first thing I see is a sales pitch to buy the product to fix the errors it found, and it requires two attempts to close it. I did as you advised and went to www.malwarebytes.org and made sure I was not diverted to another site (the address stayed the same in the address box).

I downloaded the free version, but wound up with some browser software, and a bunch of other crud I didn’t want, so uninstalled everything, piece by piece.

Call me stupid, but I tried it again, made sure I was not diverted and wound up downloading a music player, which I think I have finally got rid of. The Malwarebytes page I get is blue with a large padlock and claims to “Crush Malware” and “Restore Confidence.”

Any light you can shed on this would be very helpful.

— Dale Anderson

A: It seems like it’s gotten to where half the questions I get are about malware. (See below.) The stuff is rampant.

You are starting in the right place: www.malwarebytes.org. When you click to download, you are directed to one of several partner sites, some of which also offer a host of other products. Unfortunately, it’s up to the user to make sure all the unwanted boxes are unchecked and all the prompts are clicked properly.

I can’t count how many times I, like you, have inadvertently downloaded unwanted applications when downloading a wanted application. It is sad that we have to live with all this, but everyone needs to make a buck, I guess.

Alternatively, your computer may have malware already running that is redirecting your attempts to download. Try downloading AntiMalware to another computer, copy it to a flash drive and then install it on your afflicted computer.

Please let me know if that solves your problem.

Q: Three small but maddening (apparent) glitches in my Windows 7 PC have turned up recently; none appears to be serious, but still. ...

First, I now have briefcases instead of folders when I want to make a new folder. Also, I cannot make folders, or briefcases for that matter, within open folders. I have to do them on my desktop and then transfer them to the folder I want them in. Kind of a pain.

Second, every once in a while, I get a recurring message that I have to upgrade my Adobe Reader, even though I just upgraded it. This message will pop up again and again, and it takes me to other sites that try to install new toolbars.

Finally, when I load Google Chrome I get a message that says my profile “could not be opened correctly.” I have no idea what this means. I didn’t ask for my profile to be opened.

— Jim Dietz

A: Taken individually, your problems don’t seem major, and they can probably be cleared up with no major hassle.

With respect to your folder issues, the most likely cause is a corrupt system file or registry entry. Another possibility is that you’ve got a piece of malware. I’d recommend running Microsoft’s System Safety Scanner. You can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx.

With respect to your upgrade message that takes you to unexpected sites, that’s almost certainly a result of malware in your system.

With respect to your profile question, many applications, including Windows, automatically create user profiles that are loaded when the program launches. Try this: Close Chrome and launch Windows Explorer. Go to C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\ and delete the Web Data file. Start Chrome and it should create a new user profile.

If I were experiencing this many problems, however, I’d probably start from scratch by reformatting the drive and reinstalling Windows and applications. That will likely give you a performance boost, too.

If you’re reluctant to go this route, I’d at least recommend doing a detailed scan with both an anti-virus and an anti-malware program.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/

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