Q: I read with interest the question in a recent column about Malwarebytes.org (Q&A, Aug. 17). I, too, wound up with the same issue.

Every time I start my computer, the first thing I see is a sales pitch to buy the product to fix the errors it found, and it requires two attempts to close it. I did as you advised and went to www.malwarebytes.org and made sure I was not diverted to another site (the address stayed the same in the address box).

I downloaded the free version, but wound up with some browser software, and a bunch of other crud I didn’t want, so uninstalled everything, piece by piece.

Call me stupid, but I tried it again, made sure I was not diverted and wound up downloading a music player, which I think I have finally got rid of. The Malwarebytes page I get is blue with a large padlock and claims to “Crush Malware” and “Restore Confidence.”

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Any light you can shed on this would be very helpful.

— Dale Anderson

A: It seems like it’s gotten to where half the questions I get are about malware. (See below.) The stuff is rampant.

You are starting in the right place: www.malwarebytes.org. When you click to download, you are directed to one of several partner sites, some of which also offer a host of other products. Unfortunately, it’s up to the user to make sure all the unwanted boxes are unchecked and all the prompts are clicked properly.

I can’t count how many times I, like you, have inadvertently downloaded unwanted applications when downloading a wanted application. It is sad that we have to live with all this, but everyone needs to make a buck, I guess.

Alternatively, your computer may have malware already running that is redirecting your attempts to download. Try downloading AntiMalware to another computer, copy it to a flash drive and then install it on your afflicted computer.

Please let me know if that solves your problem.

Q: Three small but maddening (apparent) glitches in my Windows 7 PC have turned up recently; none appears to be serious, but still. …

First, I now have briefcases instead of folders when I want to make a new folder. Also, I cannot make folders, or briefcases for that matter, within open folders. I have to do them on my desktop and then transfer them to the folder I want them in. Kind of a pain.

Second, every once in a while, I get a recurring message that I have to upgrade my Adobe Reader, even though I just upgraded it. This message will pop up again and again, and it takes me to other sites that try to install new toolbars.

Finally, when I load Google Chrome I get a message that says my profile “could not be opened correctly.” I have no idea what this means. I didn’t ask for my profile to be opened.

— Jim Dietz

A: Taken individually, your problems don’t seem major, and they can probably be cleared up with no major hassle.

With respect to your folder issues, the most likely cause is a corrupt system file or registry entry. Another possibility is that you’ve got a piece of malware. I’d recommend running Microsoft’s System Safety Scanner. You can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx.

With respect to your upgrade message that takes you to unexpected sites, that’s almost certainly a result of malware in your system.

With respect to your profile question, many applications, including Windows, automatically create user profiles that are loaded when the program launches. Try this: Close Chrome and launch Windows Explorer. Go to C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\ and delete the Web Data file. Start Chrome and it should create a new user profile.

If I were experiencing this many problems, however, I’d probably start from scratch by reformatting the drive and reinstalling Windows and applications. That will likely give you a performance boost, too.

If you’re reluctant to go this route, I’d at least recommend doing a detailed scan with both an anti-virus and an anti-malware program.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to pmarshall@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/