Honestly, I don't understand why people write virus programs -- they are JUST NOT FUNNY! As a kid I never put salt in the sugar shaker. I don't switch signs on nonfunctioning elevators. Why can't other people show the same courtesy?
Despite what I thought was being careful with my computer habits, including care where I visited/downloaded on the web and frequent checks with an antivirus/malware program, my beloved computer has sunk low into the dust. I have about 8.7 GB of files (music, photos, and my writing files) and another 9 GB of programs. I also have some (comment deleted) program that keeps filling the remaining space on my 50 GB hard drive so that it slows and eventually doesn't work. Despite my best interventions, including removing 5 GB of photos (which the (comment deleted) program promptly ate), restoring the system, defragging the disk, cleaning the disk, and running other spyware and malware programs, nothing helped.
UPDATE: after doing some google searches and running antivirus/malicious ware programs, I suspect that I may have a corrupted file or system that replicates instead of a virus or worm. I'm continuing to investigate the problem.
I have a great writers' loop that posted some free antivirus programs that might be helpful. I was assured by the writers that they used them without problems on their own computers, but as always, the final decision to download and use is yours:
Spybot Search and Destroy: http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html
for Avast the writer said "I have used with no infections for the last 6 years... I've used Norton, McAfee, and others, and have not been as satisfied as with Avast. It comes as free or pro, but I've only used the free version."
The good news is that a few months ago I started using Mozy, an online backup system that I thought was overkill but now I am at peace even though it looks like I may have to wipe the hard drive and reload the operating system. My files are all backed up.
You never think it's going to happen to you, do you? My friends, whether you use Mozy or another system, BACK UP YOUR FILES!!!