My daughter installed a program called PC Pitstop on my PC, but I don’t really know how to use it. Can you offer a quick how-to, please?
The great thing about most modern anti-virus and malware protection software is that once you have it installed, there’s not really much you need to do. You don’t need to do scans, you don’t need to manually update the virus definitions (which should happen daily, actually), it should just magically stay up-to-date and working quietly in the background to keep you safe. Heck, even if you have infected files or bad programs, they should just be flagged by the program on one of its regularly scheduled system scans.
PC Matic (the program that the company PC Pitstop sells) is even easier than most with a single button that does all the work. PC Pitstop also does the automatic virus definition updates every day too, something critical if you really want to stay safe. Yes, bad guys change and update their dastardly programs that frequently.
Still, since it’s one of my favorite virus protection programs, let’s step through the entire process of having it scan and check your system for malware and other things that can cause performance problems or worse. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a super computer geek for this to all work.
To get started, simply download, install and launch the program. It’ll look like this:
To start you can click on “Options” to see what you can change and customize for your scans. It’s easy to understand what the various settings are and how they’ll affect your scans:
A smart move is to compare the features with the time involved: Running benchmarks on your computer might seem a bit pointless if you don’t care how your system compares to others, but it’s under 60 seconds total, so I suggest doing it at least once to see what results you get. Disks and Malware? No question, those are the heart of the program and should always be included in your scans. Skip Automate Changes, however; even the program says “recommended for veteran users”.
Ready to run a scan? Click on “Continue” and…
You’re running a scan. It’s as easy as that. Heck, once you get your options set up the way you like, running a scan can be done by clicking on the “Scan” button directly too. You can see above that it has four stages: Maintenance, Stability, Security and Performance. First up, as you can see above, scanning for junk files that are filling up your computer.
Next section is Stability and it’s pretty darn important:
As you can see, part of Stability is to ensure that you are running the very latest versions of display, network, printer and other drivers on your computer. Easily managed by PCMatic.
Third section of the scan is Security, and this one is the most important of them all:
I know, you’re wondering what signatures it’s updating, aren’t you? It’s not signatures in the sense of what you write on a check or the end of a letter, these signatures are patterns that uniquely identify malware, viruses, spyware, and other malevolent software, scripts and macros that can infect your computer in too darn many different ways. PC Matic updates this “database” of malware definitions – known as the “signature database” – every time it runs a scan to make sure that you’re protected from even viruses that were released today! This is a good thing, and I always feel a bit safer when I see that the definitions have been updated on this screen.
One of the best features of PC Matic, however, is that it also protects against the modern scourge of ransomware. Not sure what that is? Then it’s even better that it’s running on your computer! Ransomware is malicious software that basically holds your data, files and computer hostage by encrypting your system. Pay them a specific amount of money through an electronic system and it’ll decrypt your files, until the next time you’re infected. Really bad news.
That’s another part of the Security scan:
So far, it hasn’t found anything on any of my PCs, but if I ever do get some ransomware, I know it won’t be a pretty sight and I will be pretty rageful. Pay hundreds of dollars to someone so I can regain access to my own files on my own computer? No thanks!
There are some basic Performance analysis scans done too, and fairly quickly you’ll end up with this summary and results screen:
Jump straight to the lower right to see the results. Mine shows 19 changes it has made to make my computer safer and faster, along with 2 additional suggestions. Not too bad at all. Each of the different sections focuses on specific categories too if you want more information. Want to know what PC Matic actually did? No worries, click on the “Reports” button on the lower section and you’ll get an entire page of detailed updates:
Notice that none of my messages are denoted with a red circle. As per the legend, those would be malware that’s been fixed or isolated. Luckily, my computer’s safe of infections or bad software. Otherwise, it’s all useful stuff that seem to mostly deal with file fragmentation (a common cause of performance problems after you’ve had your PC for a while).
Back up and click on the “Next” gear icon instead. Turns out that PC Matic has a lot more handy skills, as you’ll quickly see:
You can see, it’s quite a list of tasks that clean up everything. Also note that I did have some malware detected in the AppData temp directory. No worries, it was cleaned up automatically.
After a bit, you’ll get a full report of everything that was done and an encouragement to restart:
I restart, rescan with PC Matic and get this clean report:
Phew! Done. And glad of it, glad to know my PC computer is clean, clear and ready to keep using. Now it turns out that PC Matic can run automatically but I like to do a manual check every week or so to ensure everything’s in good shape. Because with malware on your computer, an “ounce” of prevention is unquestionably worth much more than a pound of cure.
PCMATIC is $50/year for up to five computers, or you can buy a lifetime license for this same number of computers for $200. Sounds like a lot until you think about the cost of one ransomware attack, one virus that trashes all your documents and photos, or having to replace your computer because it’s so badly infected you can’t fix it.
Disclosure: I have a long-time relationship with PC Pitstop and the PC Matic links in this article are affiliate links. This means you pay exactly the same price, but I get a small commission for each license sold. Thanks, it helps keeps the lights on!