A free security tool is slaughtering the Zbot botnet, having cleaned the malware responsible for harvesting zombie computers from almost 280,000 machines.

In just a few days, MSRT has delivered a heavy blow to the network of zombie computers, with a few hundred thousand PCs having been cleaned.

MSRT was refreshed and offered to all Windows users via Windows Update on October 12, as a part of the company’s monthly release of security bulletins.

“Since the release of MSRT on Tuesday we have removed Zbot 281,491 times from 274,873 computers and is the #1 family of malware removed (which is not uncommon the month a family is added),” revealed Microsoft’s Jeff Williams. More »

1. System Start-up packed with too many applications (Start-up overload)

Over time, as you add more and more programs to your computer, many of these applications automatically add themselves to your Windows Start-up folder. Additionally, these applications can add themselves quietly to a hidden area of your Windows Start-up system (accessed via the MSCONFIG run command). In extreme cases your PC will appear completely frozen.

Limiting the number of applications loading themselves at start-up can speed boot times considerably and increase overall system performance. More »

This second and final part of our quick tour through the world of portable applications will focus mostly on programs that are not necessarily needed by the common user, but may come in handy in certain situations or to the more experienced Windows fans.

Compressing and decompressing files may be a very easy task, but things change when you have to use another computer that doesn’t have a compression utility installed, so here are some of our suggestions. You can try using the trial version of popular archivers WinRAR and PowerArchiver, or consider giving 7-zip, IZArc2Go and PeaZip a go, which are free for both personal and commercial use.

An organizer is not very helpful if you need to access your agenda from more than one computer. To overcome this inconvenience, feel free to install any of the following portable organizers and personal information managers: Sunbird, EverNote, EssentialPIM Pro, Avignon Concept or MSD Organizer. More »

An update version of the Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is now available for download and it’s a perfect fit for the latest service packs for Windows Vista and Windows XP. The Redmond company releases new versions of the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool on the second Tuesday of each month, accompanying the availability of the Security Bulletins dropped as part of the monthly patch cycle. The updated version of MSRT is distributed via Windows Update, Microsoft Update, Windows Server Update Services and is also up for grabs on the Download Center.

Microsoft has failed to emphasize the fact that MSRT integrates seamless with both Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3. However, tests reveal that the tool plays well with the latest releases of the two operating systems. Vista SP1, RTM’d on February 4, 2008, was released to the general public on March 18, and XP SP3 is accessible to end users since May 6, having been released to manufacturing on April 21. More »