System Restore. There is another level that allows you to restore your computer to an earlier configuration without affecting recent emails received, documents, photos, and other personal files. Perhaps you installed an upgrade, a new driver or a program, or in my case, thanks to my father-in-law, the ThinkPoint virus. You can log in, but there's a driver conflict, malware infection, or issue. If you have System Restore enabled on your PC (in the System control panel), your computer creates restore points automatically; you can also create them manually, if you prefer. These restore points are typically created when you install something new, allowing you to revert the system and undo those changes. Keep in mind that this is not a backup solution; it doesn't help you recover files you might have accidentally deleted.
System Restore and your antivirus software can and should work together to ensure you don't have infected files, as well as eradicate any system issues. After all, some viruses hibernate for a while, so a previous restore point may still contain the virus you're hoping to remove. An antivirus program should catch that infection even in the restore points.
Microsoft's Fix-It Solution Center: Sometimes when I have problems, I look for a help article from the Microsoft site's knowledge base; these articles often contain a Fix-It link to fix the problem automatically. There are more than 500 of these available, and I love them. There are multiple ways to define a problem, such as by selecting the product, symptom, or application, and the articles are available in 35 languages.
This happy time of year brings with it family visits of all sorts. To keep it joyful, put a safe distance between your in-laws and your computers, and have these three tools at the ready should something go awry.
This article, "Viruses for the holidays: Three go-to tools to keep you merry," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in business software and Windows at InfoWorld.com.