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Club treats viruses at computer clinic

March 05, 2006|By TARA REILLY

HALFWAY

Part of the way through a scan for viruses, the diagnosis for Richard Stevenson's computer was severe.

"It has eight viruses so far, and I never use it," the Hagerstown resident said. "My family uses it."

"Personally, I prefer my typewriter," said Stevenson, who is taking a computer class at Hagerstown Community College.

Stevenson brought his Compaq Presario in Saturday for a checkup at the Computer CPR Clinic held by HCC's Information Technology Association. The clinic, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., was at HCC's Valley Mall satellite campus.

For a donation, members of the public may bring in their computers to be scanned for viruses, spyware and adware, have their computers repaired and receive advice on how to keep their computers in good shape.

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The club holds several clinics a year, said Doreen Shoemaker, the technology association's president.

"We try to do a lot for the public ... that also gives us experience," she said.

As of 2 p.m., the club serviced about 20 computers.

Stevenson's computer, which he bought in 2000, hadn't been running properly for a while and no longer allowed Internet surfing, he said.

HCC instructor Karen Weil-Yates said the computer was infected with Trojan horses, which can cripple computers.

"This was one of the more severe infections we have seen in a long, long time," she said.

Shoemaker said many of the computer problems the club finds are related to spyware and adware, which typically are placed on computers by visiting Web sites and downloading.

She said the "junk" can pile up on computers and slow them down.

Weil-Yates said spyware tracks Web sites a computer user visits and personal information. Adware does the same in an attempt to sell the user a product.

Shoemaker and Weil-Yates encouraged Internet surfers to frequently scan their computers for viruses, spyware and adware.

"They need to run it and update it on a regular basis," Weil-Yates said. "I usually run mine every time I (sign off) the Internet, especially if I've been to a site that I haven't been to before."

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