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Dump pricey antivirus for a freebie

Plus: restore your zapped internet access and cancel a stuck print job

This article appears in the March 07 issue of PC Advisor, onsale now in all good newsagents.

Fed up with using bloated commercial antivirus programs? Sick of being asked to pay out for yearly renewals of Symantec's Norton AntiVirus and McAfee's VirusScan Plus? Yank these behemoths out by their roots and replace them with a super-duper freebie.

The Hassle I want to switch over to a free antivirus program, but I seem to need a blowtorch to remove Norton AntiVirus from my desktop PC and the McAfee product on my laptop.

The Fix Blowtorch? Some people have tried using plastic explosives to remove Norton products – yet the Live Update still survives. If Add or Remove Programs doesn't do the job, Norton provides a terrific removal method – Norton Removal Tool.

However, it extracts every Norton product it finds on your system (versions 2003 to 2007). This means you then have to reinstall the tools you want to keep. Dig up your original CDs before you start this fun exercise. And yes, you'll probably lose your personal settings.

McAfee has a manual, albeit cumbersome, method to remove its VirusScan product. Go to Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs, locate McAfee VirusScan and click Add/Remove. If McAfee is still there, download the VirusScan.zip file and extract it to your desktop. Double-click VirusScan.reg to remove Registry entries; click Yes when prompted.

Another useful uninstaller to have is Nir Sofer's MyUninstaller. The application lists each program's location on your drive, when it was installed and the product's website for reference.

As a free antivirus program try Grisoft AVG or Alwil's Avast.

The Hassle After running an antispyware program on my computer, I now have only sporadic access to the internet.

The Fix The culprit is a layered service provider that's vanished. You may be able to surf the web but you may not have email, or vice versa.

For Windows 98 or Me, download and run LSP-Fix.

XP SP2 users should go to Start, Run, type CMD, click ok, type 'netsh winsock reset', then reboot. If this doesn't work, borrow a friend's PC and download WinSock XP Fix, a free tool that makes the LSP behave.

Click here for a useful tutorial.

The Hassle I started printing a 50-page document. The job stopped midway through but when I clicked on Cancel in the system tray's print queue it didn't seem to help.

The Fix From the Start menu, select Run, enter CMD, click ok and type 'net stop spooler' to halt the service. Leave the CMD window open, wait for a few seconds, and then check the print queue again. The print job should now have disappeared. Type 'net start spooler' in the CMD box and everything should work properly once again.

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