I have recently had a couple friends and family ask me to help them remove a virus or malware that is destroying their computer, creating conflict in their lives, and abusing their pets. Stop pet abuse now by following my quick recommendation below. Honestly, I realize I am THE computer guy in many people’s lives but in reality my expertise is in enterprise datacenter systems – not home or desktop troubleshooting. The last time I fixed a user’s desktop issue for money was quite a while ago but I certainly know enough about security and can recommend what I would do if I got nailed with a nasty infection (on my computer).
That being said and before I go any further, please upgrade or buy a new computer with Windows 7 and get rid of Windows XP or – God forbid you are still running it – Windows 2000. Windows 7 does a fantastic job of protecting you from junk on the web. Stop clicking on the website advertisements that tell you that you have a problem that they can fix. It’s called social engineering and they are just tricking you! Ask someone who knows what they are doing if you are unsure. More and more hackers and other evil people on the internet are trying to steal information about you. Yes, that includes your credit cards, your identity, and your passwords. Lastly, backup your important pictures, music, documents and whatever else is important to you using a service like Mozy or Carbonite. They are around $50/yr and are invaluable for that time when you disregard everything I or someone else tells you and you click on that nasty message that instantly causes your computer to meltdown.
Do understand that there are soooo many ways to deal with this and this may not fix your specific problem. It is in no way a complete solution. You may need to go to extreme measures like taking your computer to a brilliant computer repairman. Yes, they cost money but think about what you paid the last time you had your car worked on and the bill from the computer guy will likely not be so bad. Don’t get me wrong. I will do everything I can to help since I absolutely hate hearing about people being taken advantage of and all of the crap that’s on the web but beware – you owe me! 😉
Use at your own risk. I am not responsible for any harm you cause to your computer, data, or your head from bashing it into the wall.
Phew… on to the brief recommendation for ridding your computer of that mischievous demon.
Click Start -> Run.
Type msconfig and click OK. (occasionally msconfig32)
Disable any suspicious looking items from the startup tab by unchecking them. Items that have funky symbols or characters such as Afe$@521#$@ may be malware that starts with your computer. Alternatively, you can click Disable All to prevent all items from starting but beware that this will stop some programs that are required for proper use of devices and normal operation.
Click OK and restart when prompted. Install antivirus software if one is not already present. AVG’s free product works great and now Microsoft has their own free antivirus offering.
Run a complete scan and cross your fingers! It may be necessary to boot to safe mode by pressing F8 repeatedly after turning on your computer (actually just before the “starting windows” message). Choose safe mode and then try running the AV (antivirus, duh) from there.
Re-enable items in the msconfig window from the first step. You can always google program names to see what their purpose is on your computer.
If you have a question, do everyone else a favor and post it in the comments. There are no such things as stupid questions, just stupid people and they might be wondering the same thing as you!