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Computer viruses are software programs that install themselves on your computer without your knowledge or consent and have the capability to replicate. Most viruses also have other effects, ranging from mildly annoying to highly destructive. Viruses are typically transmitted via email or shared document or PDF files. Malware (also known as spyware and parasiteware) is very similar except it does not replicate itself.

IMPORTANT: McAfee VirusScan OUT, Microsoft Essentials IN

ITS has previously advised Smith students, faculty, and staff to install McAfee VirusScan on their personal and office computers for protection against viruses and malware. However, Smith's McAfee site license expires on June 23rd and will not be renewed. Due to requirements in our McAfee license:

All students, staff, and faculty who currently use McAfee VirusScan on their personal or Smith-owned computer MUST stop using it by June 23, 2013. For all Windows users, ITS strongly recommends replacing it with Microsoft Security Essentials.

Microsoft Security Essentials is free, simple to install, and easy to use.  It also uses fewer system resources than VirusScan and updates itself automatically.

To install Microsoft Security Essentials, follow the directions below for your operating system:


If you currently use McAfee VirusScan, ITS has created a program that automatically uninstalls VirusScan and replaces it with Security Essentials.  Instructions and links are in the top part of the Smith software page.

Note: If you have any trouble logging in to the Smith software page, just uninstall McAfee VirusScan yourself, then download Security Essentials from the Microsoft download page.

If you currently use a different anti-virus program and want to switch to Security Essentials, first manually uninstall the other AV program. You can then download Security Essentials from the Microsoft download page.

In either case, once Security Essentials is installed, be sure to set your weekly scan time:

  1. Double-click the castle icon in the lower right corner of your screen to open the program.

  2. Click on the Settings tab, then choose your preferred day and time for a weekly scan. Note that the scan cannot run if the computer is turned off, so we advise picking a time when it is likely to be on but not actively in use, such as your lunch hour on a weekday.

  3. Save your changes and you're done.

Security Essentials comes pre-installed on your computer under the name Windows Defender, so you're all set.


If you have McAfee VirusScan installed on your Mac, please remove it immediately following these instructions.

Going forward, if you are using OS 10.6 or higher, you already have some virus and malware protection built into your operating system. If you would like to take additional precautions, ClamXav is a popular free anti-virus solution for the Mac you can download here:

: If your Windows computer seems bogged down and is running very slowly, use the following rapid-removal tools to clear parasiteware and other unwanted and unneeded programs from your system:
  • CCleaner
  • MalwareBytes Anti-Malware

To download these programs, visit the Smith software page.



Copyright © 2014 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall 11  |  Northampton, MA 01063
413.585.4487  |  Questions or comments?  Send us email
 |  Last updated June 20, 2013

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