Being the computer nerd that I am and having written a book, created this website, and taught courses about better computer use like I have, you can imagine that I fill the role of personal tech support to many friends and family members.  I usually welcome the opportunity to help the people that I care about, though sometimes I definitely face challenges when helping them out.  This post describes the work I did on a notebook that belonged to my wife’s friend and colleague Bobbie.  Her problems consisted of serious infections, poor system performance, instability, and an excess of unneeded programs.  Click to read more…

I don’t remember if the notebook was an HP or Compaq, but it was on the older side, running XP, and was holding up fine before everything turned bad.  I had done some stuff previously on her machine, so I had experience using it when it was working fine and definitely noticed the performance degradation.  When I was first asked for help, I was warned of popup ads that would appear, random sounds that would get played, automatic redirection to websites not desired, and more.  I had my work cut out for me.

The first thing I did was download Avast Home Edition, an awesome, free anti-virus software package.  They only require that you register your email address once every fourteen months to get a new free license key (and I have never gotten spam from them).  I started running a full scan of computer while downloading a few different malware fighters:

Initially, I couldn’t run a scan with Windows Defender because the system was so corrupt and infected.  I used msconfig to track down some unwanted programs that were loading on startup and turned them off, then rebooted after the Avast scan completed with it’s first set of findings.

The reboot allowed me to run the three spyware tools and removed all of the infections that were found (and there were a good number).  I then uninstalled some of the programs that were not being used and were basically crapware, followed by another Avast scan.

In the end, I ran multiple scans with each tool, did several reboots, and finally got the system cleaned up in four or five hours.  No longer were popups appearing, random sounds playing, and browser redirects occurring.  I was happy, and so was Bobbie (her husband promised me dinner).

The moral of this story is that it is better to use security tools regularly to prevent a situation like this from occurring than to allow malware to reak havoc on your system and try to fix it afterward.  Bobbie was lucky.  Her system was recovered with no major loss of data and without a full restore of the OS.  Others might not be so lucky.  Along with following the Security Basics, please take the time to secure your system, run regular scans, don’t install untrustworthy software, and don’t ignore the signs of trouble when they appear.  A secure computer is a happy computer.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 1:06 pm and is filed under Advanced Computer Use, Basic Computer Use, Maintenance, Security, Useful Programs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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