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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Computer Problems

   
Author Topic: Computer Problems
Meredith
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This week has been h*$@

First my car battery died. Then I lost Lotus Blossom. Now my (admittedly ancient) computer is trying to die.

It started Wednesday night. I visited this website and a web comic that updates on Thursdays (Australia time, so late Wednesday, here). Somewhere in there, McAfee informed me that it had blocked a change to my registry. Well, it may have blocked the registry change, but something happened. I've had obscure processes (like dsca.exe) run rogue and eat up all of the CPU process. Everytime I go on the internet, I get a message that my last session ended improperly, which isn't true. Internet searches result in me being hijacked to some other website, not the one I was trying to go to. Twice now, I've come back to the blue screen of death.

This has naturally sent me looking for what I can (maybe) afford in a new computer. Found a pretty good deal at Staples, still more than I can afford, but what isn't?

Does anyone here know if my ancient (2002) MS Office will run on Windows 7? Or am I going to be stuck buying (and re-learning) a new version of Office, too?

(BTW, I don't for a moment equate the loss of my cat to replacing a car battery. It only comes up in the context of having already spent $125 on the car battery and almost $200 to have poor Libby put to sleep.)

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited November 28, 2009).]


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BenM
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Windows 7 is apparently quite decent at running older programs, so I doubt you'll have any issues. Though I hasten to add that I've not installed my copy yet, so I don't speak from personal experience.
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Meredith
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Well, we'll see. Microsoft may be able to save my computer. It's almost certainly malware. I ran McAfee's virus scan twice with no result. But Microsoft's OneCare Scan seems to have found something. Maybe it can fix it. Then I'll download Defender to keep this from happening again.

I really need the old bucket to keep running at least until March.

Here's hoping.


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Merlion-Emrys
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I use a program called Malware Bytes thats very effective.
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Meredith
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Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look it up. I've run Microsoft's scan twice. Not all of the symptoms have been cleaned up. In fact, things got worse after the first time I ran it.

I won't be replying to e-mails until I have a good feeling that I've got this fixed. I don't want to spread it around. Nobody should have to go through what I've been through the last couple of days.


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Merlion-Emrys
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Malware Bytes has pulled me out of some nasty spots, hopefully it will do the trick.
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Wolfe_boy
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It hasn't been mentioned yet, but now is a wonderful time for you to backup all of your sensitive documents - pictures, writing, other stuff - to a flash drive or external hard drive depending on how much you have to back-up.

It might also be worth it to wipe your hard drive & reinstall everything. That usually clears up most virus-related issues.


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Meredith
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@Wolfe-boy, I hope it won't come to that. I have CD backups of most things. And, fortunately, current printouts of at least two of the novels and the short stories. I also printed out my WIP, SEVEN STARS. Printing out current versions of THE SHAMAN'S CURSE and DREAMER'S ROSE would be cost prohibitive. But I'm sure I have clean copies of those on the CDs.

I'm considering an online backup, which is cheaper than an external hard drive. But I'm reluctant to back anything up until I get a handle on this. It wouldn't do any good to reinfect the computer.


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skadder
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Buy a second hand mac rather than a new pc laptop. Viruses become even less of an issue and you can still use word--or abbi word or neo office.

ANd battery life on a mac is loads better.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited November 29, 2009).]


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Meredith
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Battery life was not a concern, since this is a desk top. However, that is a thought. I'll have to look around and see what's available cheap. I've been thinking that I'd like to have a small laptop, too, if I could afford it.

For now, my system is limping, but it's not all the way back, yet. All the icons have disappeared from my desk top, but the Start Menu still works. And my hot buttons. I'm still getting occasional odd things happening in IE, but not nearly as bad as it was last night. The rogue processes seem to have stopped, though. And I haven't had the blue screen of death in a while.
I haven't tried rebooting since the last scan, yet. I'm almost afraid to.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited November 29, 2009).]


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snapper
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I heard the problem with macs is you start to repeat yourself when you use them

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited November 29, 2009).]


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Smaug
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It sounds like you may have some registry errors. I use a program called Reg Seeker to clean my registry periodically. You just click on "clean the registry" and the program does the rest. If you do this, you should make sure you back up your current registry. The program has a little box you can check for it to do so. I have run this many times though, and never had a problem. Consider defragging as well if you haven't done that recently.

If you're still having problems, it's possible to do a repair install of Windows, which supposedly fixes errors, but doesn't always work. The one time when I had to resort to that, I ended up completely reinstalling Windows. Always make backups of anything you don't want to lose, as has been said earlier in the thread.


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rich
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Lots of good advice on here, Meredith. The only other thing I would suggest, if you haven't done so already, is to run anti-virus scan FROM your thumb drive or another external drive. Or even boot from it if you can.

And shop around. Drives are cheap, and will probably be cheaper during the holiday season. Look online for the best prices.

However, if your system is old(er), you can get a very good laptop for less than $500. If you're looking at Nebooks, you also have a choice of using Linux, which means that you won't have nearly the amount of viruses that would attack a Windows PC. I don't have any experience with Netbooks, but I've heard good things about them for low-power users. You're not going to be doing any MMORPGs with it, but it may suit your purposes.


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Smaug
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Also, when running your virus scan, turn off "system restore" as the virus could be saved in restore, even if you remove it. I'd also advise against Macaffe (sp?) or Nortons and go with one of the free ones like Avast Anti-Virus. Just have heard of a lot of problems with the "big two".
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Meredith
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Well, it's better. It's not fixed yet. But it's better. Malware Bytes helped a lot, even though it nearly drove me nuts running all day yesterday and then freezing up at the very end. I've got a list of other scans to run to make sure. And there are still a couple of symptoms left.

My first three restore points failed. I don't know whether the restore points were corrupted or whether some of the malware blocked it.

I run McAffee. You couldn't pay me to put Norton on another computer. In general, other than that it didn't catch this, I like McAffee well enough. At least it gives me the option to put the firewall on lockdown when I'm not actively online. That way, things can't get worse until I get through this. It seems like once you get one of these nasties, they're like teenagers left home alone for the weekend. They call all their friends to come over and throw a wild party.


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Meredith
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The current standing is this. I've run seven different scans on my computer and reinstalled IE twice. I worked my way through as much of the list on McAfee's forum as I could (some things aren't available and some wouldn't run.) I'm still not completely symptom-free.
  • I ran McAfee's scan three times--it found nothing.
  • I ran Microsoft's Windows OneCare scan three times. It found several things. Fixed some. Others came back.
  • Malware Bytes found 14 items(rootkit, rogues, and trojans) and purged them. The icons came back on my desktop (which made me feel better).
  • Panda Anti-Rootkit found nothing
  • F-Secure Virus Scan found 21 trojans, spyware, and rootkits and cleaned them.
  • Housecall found nothing.
  • Super AntiSpyware found 1083 items (all but two were tracking cookies, which might have been benign) and cleaned them.

That's where things stand at the moment.

I still have that message at the start up of IE that my last session ended unexpectedly (which isn't true). I still occasionally get another browser window opened for an ad for Dish Network. (I'm going to write them an e-mail about all of this.) And every once in a while, voices for a Target ad will just come over my speakers. (I'm going to write Target an e-mail, too.)

It seems like this all started with what must have been a rollover ad I didn't even pay any attention to which led to a very bad site called clicksor.net.

I know that I can run this way for the time being. And I really believe the computer is safe, now. Very little if anything of what was found was the sort of thing that could spread by e-mail.

I'm going to run Malware Bytes one more time on Friday (when I have to be away from the computer for several hours anyway), to see if it turns up anything on a second pass. If not, I'm going to consider it safe to start e-mailing again. Like I said, none of the scans turned up the kind of thing that spreads by e-mail.

There's another list on Major Geek's that I'll probably start working my way through trying to get rid of the remnants next week.

If anybody knows how to interpret a HijackThis log (or knows a good forum to go to with it) I'd like to hear about it. Castlecops isn't there anymore. Unless the little bugs are keeping me from getting to it.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited December 02, 2009).]


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skadder
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I would advise you not to do anything sensitive from that computer, or in fact your home network as it was quite obviously corrupted. It's a little like know there was a spy there--just because things appear to be better doesn't mean it's gone. You may merely have removed some of its components and left a keystroke logger or something.

I would save what you need externally--documents etc, not programs and re-install windows--a fresh install. Then install antivirus and malware straightway before accessing anything else from the internet. I assume you are working form behind a router....not just a modem. If not, get one.


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Meredith
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My next investment is going to be an online backup, probably McAfee's because it will do live backups even if the file is open. And it will backup e=mail files (like contacts) as well as documents.

I don't have a router, just a cable modem and a firewall.

I may have to resort to a reinstall of windows. I've been trying to avoid it, but it may come down to that. The last time I had to reinstall the operating system, the computer ended up buggier than before--not because of infection, but because of operating system glitches. I did that reinstall to correct a corrupted file, not an infection. That computer was never able to access the internet again. Before I go to that length, I'll get on the phone with McAfee, though. They owe me some support over this.

And no, there was no Cyber Monday from this house.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited December 02, 2009).]


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Meredith
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Rats! I thought I had a handle on it. But it doesn't look like it, now. Came back to find SiteAdv.exe going nuts and Windows Virtual Memory errors.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do at this point. I will have to go ahead with the online backup. I'll probably rerun some of the scans first, to try to make sure the files I back up are clean. Then I'll either have to try wiping the hard drive myself or get somebody to do it for me. I'll probably call McAfee first to see what they have to say.


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Rhaythe
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quote:
Buy a second hand mac rather than a new pc laptop. Viruses become even less of an issue and you can still use word--or abbi word or neo office.

I'm resisting the urge to break out into my Linux fan-boy mindset...


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Meredith
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For anyone still following this cautionary tale, here's the current plan.

I got one reply to my post on McAfee's forum. So I'm going to try that first. Turn the computer off. Physically disconnect it from the internet. Restart in safe mode. Rerun the scan which can be run from my computer without accessing the internet. MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware for sure. I'll have to see what else I can run. That's probably pretty much all day today and possibly into tomorrow.

If that doesn't work, I'm going to try to over-install the operating system. I appreciate the suggestion to wipe the hard drive and start over, but I just know in my bones that's a disaster on this computer. It's seven years old. There are going to be some disks I can't find or that have become corrupted in some way. Probably a key driver or something. Even CD's don't last forever. And, in seven years, they can go astray, too. I think I know where everything is. But I've thought that before and been proven wrong.

But, before I start that, I'm going to order a cheap manufacturer refurb, by phone, of course, so I know I've got a backup. I can get a tower as cheap as $100 that way. I might do better if I could get in the auction. They start as low as $0.99 (though they don't usually finish that low). But, of course, that's out for now.

Wish me luck.


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Meredith
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So much for plan A. This computer will not start in Safe Mode. All I get is the blue screen of death. Whatever this is, it's a lot worse than I thought.

I suspect that this computer is toast.

I can't order the refurb until Monday, since I have to do it by phone. I hope the one I want is still there by then.

Meanwhile, I'm going to spend a fortune in printer ink and print out some of the shorter files, anyway. That's a copy I know can't be corrupted.

I have most everything backed up on CDs, except the latest revisions to BLOOD WILL TELL and THE IGNORED PROPHECY and my start at SEVEN STARS. (But I already have that printed out. It's only fifty pages.) I don't trust that backup since it was too close in time to all of this happening. But there are print outs of those two, currently with a reader, so I can just re-enter the changes to backups of older versions. Since it's virtually complete, I should print out THE SHAMAN'S CURSE, too. I really hate to use the ink to print out a first draft, but I may decide to print out Dreamer's Rose, too.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Oh, Meredith, this has got to be so frustrating for you. Commiserations and best wishes.
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Meredith
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Well, the "new" system is ordered, to arrive early next week (but ground shipping was free and the tower is only $120). So, I'll be back in business by then at the latest.

It feels good to know that at least there's an end to this in sight. BoredCrow, Unwritten, Kitti, and Merlion, get ready to start sending me stuff in about a week. I need to get back in the swing of things.

Meanwhile, I'm furiously printing out files to be sure I have a clean copy. I've got most of them backed up on CD, too. But this is a known clean copy.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited December 07, 2009).]


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mikemunsil
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If you haven't already gotten rid of the old computer, install Linux (probably Ubuntu) on it. If you don't want to use Linux, do it anyway and donate that computer to someone who needs it.
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Meredith
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Thanks for the thought. No, I'm still working on a very limited basis on the old computer and will continue for a while, printing out files, etc., even after the new one comes. One of the reasons I broke down and got a replacement--even a cheap one--and also the reason I've been doing monthly backups before this happened is that frankly this old monster has been trying to die for a while, now. They just don't expect computers to last seven years these days.
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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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i have a question that confuses the (excuse my Russian) KCUF out of me some how 2 vids got downloaded onto my computer and they CANT be deleated (I have tried many, many, many, many times to getrid of them, and the folder that they are in is the DOWNLOAD folder that i only use for my ZUNE softwere. and its causing a RUNTIME ERROR.

when the computer sinds the message to Windows website it told me to up date my system, when i did so the problome got worse

i have the Problem signature: saved if anyone can interpited it for me...

RFW2nd


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Meredith
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"New" computer is here. Still busy setting it up. In fact, I've got to log off now so it can reboot again.
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mikemunsil
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quote:
Thanks for the thought. No, I'm still working on a very limited basis on the old computer and will continue for a while, printing out files, etc., even after the new one comes. One of the reasons I broke down and got a replacement--even a cheap one--and also the reason I've been doing monthly backups before this happened is that frankly this old monster has been trying to die for a while, now. They just don't expect computers to last seven years these days.

When you're done, then. Email me and I'll walk you through it. My current SONY laptop dual-boots Linux and WinXP. It is 8 years old. We have a home desktop that is 10 years old that runs Linux.

And yes, I am a Linux advocate. But that's okay; some of us have to be rational...


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genevive42
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Our computer guys here at work, and I had them build my home computer, have two FREE anti-virus programs they recommend.

One is Malware Bytes: http://www.malwarebytes.org/

The other is Avast Antivirus - http://www.avast.com/index.html

These are the only security programs we use and they work quite well.

Hope this helps.


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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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so can anyone help me interpit the computer problome i am having.

my computers internet copasity has started acting up now. i am unable to conect to any network now. for i keep having a runtime error.

i am now forced to use my buddies computer.

RFW2nd


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Meredith
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The router has arrived. I'll be setting it up in the next few days and then I can breathe a little easier.
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