Feature: FixMeStick Wants to be Your Bootable Antivirus Hero
For billions of computer users around the world, viruses are
a daily hassle. Whether they’re randomly rebooting your PC, cutting off your
Internet, or leaking your files all over the place, there’s nothing worse than
your PC getting one. And what’s even more tedious is then trawling the Internet
downloading various updates and software to try and purge your system from this
annoying intruder. And in some cases, the software that you download could be
masquerading as spyware, or even something worse. So in an attempt to simplify
the virus removal process, founders Corey Velan and Marty Algire decided to
create the FixMeStick, a bootable USB tool that cleans up an infected PC as
quickly and efficiently as possible.
Features and Usage
The FixMeStick has three antivirus engines on it; Sophos, Kaspersky, and Vipre. It’s this combination that supposedly ensures that you have a thorough virus removal kit handy at any given time. While there are a ton of bootable ISOs and other utilities you can download from the web to clean your PC, the FixMeStick aims to make things as simple as possible – you just plug it into your PC and reboot, and the FixMeStick does the rest. The FixMeStick will set you back around $60, and you can use the device on up to three computers only before you have to purchase additional licenses. You can get an ‘unlimited’ license for around $299, but again that’s a significant cost to take into consideration.
Generally, FixMeStick is quite user-friendly and requires minimal interaction. Once the PC reboots, FixMeStick boots into a Linux environment, so that you won’t have to worry about Windows files being in use while cleaning your PC. It then gives you the option to download the latest virus definition files so that it’s able to detect the most recent threats. The one issue I ran into was that Linux didn’t recognize my graphics card, so I was left with a blank screen after I booted into the FixMeStick environment. But since I’m familiar with Linux, I was able to get to the boot prompt and load some basic VGA drivers, which then loaded up the FixMeStick properly. This may be all and well for a power user, but for a novice this might be a bit baffling to carry out, so I wonder what FixMeStick would do if a user is unable to boot into the Linux environment.
Once you’re booted in and the necessary updates are downloaded, FixMeStick begins to scan your system. The scan itself for my PC took about an hour to finish, and the program recommends you ‘take a break’ while scanning is in progress, which is advice I highly recommend you follow.
I’m happy to report that the FixMeStick was able to detect all of the viruses that I had planted on the system, offering to quarantine the files that it found. After the cleaning operation was completed, I was then able to reboot into what I presumed was a squeaky-clean Windows. However after a bit of snooping around I discovered there were still some exe files running in the background, and a startup entry that I had created was still present in the Registry startup section. So overall the FixMeStick did clean up the machine, but it seems there were still one or two files that slipped under the radar.
The FixMeStick does what it says on the package, and that’s remove viruses. While it’s not a replacement for full-time protection, it’s a handy utility to have for scenarios where your PC has been overrun with malicious code and you need a good tool to flush everything out. There may be some instances where not all viruses or files are removed, so my recommendation is that as soon as FixMeStick has done its job, install any of the numerous free or paid anti-virus software for a more permanent solution.