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I was having a problem last week. Even though Caerulia’s PC uses Firefox as the default browser, Internet Explorer pop-ups kept appearing every few minutes, slowing down the connection severely (it’s already bad enough on dial-up). My usual remedy – Ad-Aware – didn’t seem to be cutting it. So I had some new things to learn about resolving the problem. Here’s what I ended up doing.

Geek Collective

All computer users should have these kinds of people – peers who know a hell of a lot more about computers than I do. Once upon a time, I’d consult them all the time, but nowadays, I only rely on them when I get stuck with something. Here’s what I put to them:

Hey geek friends (sounds a bit like “Super-friends” but with less capes and lycra huh?)

For years, I have used Ad-Aware to get rid of evil pop-ups, but now I’m using Caerulia’s PC while mine is in hibernation, the Ad-Aware doesn’t seem to be cutting it, and I keep getting stupid pop-ups appearing in IE (despite only using Firefox!) all the time when I’m online.

Is there a successor to Ad-Aware in the war against pop-ups that I should know about?
What’s the latest strategies?

Renaming Iexplore

Marquis suggested this, because the pop-ups were happening in IE, despite me using Firefox. He figured that since the pop-ups were running IE to operate, if we disabled their ability to run the program, it might stop. But it didn’t help, and according to Marquis (who wasn’t sure it’d work anyway) Windows renames it back because it’s too central to the operating system to be absent.
By the way, this wasn’t Marquis’ only contribution, but it was the only one I actually understood – he’s much more technical than I am, and a lot of his suggestions were deep Windows hacks that I dare not try on Caerulia’s PC without adult supervision.


Mick suggested using this little application, HiJackThis. It doesn’t resolve the problems, but it does do quite a bit of diagnostic work and spits out a little text file which Mick was able to use to identify at least two problems – trojans – that needed to be removed. So I did that with one, but the other wouldn’t delete, because Windows was using it. Does anyone know how to start up the PC when it’s got WinXP without going into Windows? Like the old “Boot into DOS” option?

Spyware Doctor

Dudley suggested Spyware Doctor. I downloaded it, and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be much good unless I paid to register it. Fortunately though, being broke meant I shot back an email to him telling him this, so he called my attention to the text file he’d attached to his original email – which included the code for activating the program. *slap forehead* So I was able to run the program and test it out.
And I have to admit, it was terribly thorough. It cleaned out thousands of files, and since then, I have gone more than a week without a single pop-up interrupting life.

The whole process took several hours, spread over 2-3 days. And without the geek collective, I doubt I’d have had much success. So a big thankyou to all of them.

I’ll now throw the forum open though – what do others use to keep their systems clean? (Yes, I will be taking notes and trying them out next time I run into a problem)



  1. I use a combination of Ad-Aware SE [Which I forget to update mostly, lol] and SpyBot Search & Destroy, which is quite powerful, even protects your PC from known spyware by not letting them install [unless you CHOOSE] as well as live protection, all for free. HiJackThis is a very powerful tool, but should be used with caution cause it can cause BIG problems if you delete the wrong string.

    As for Virus protection I use the all powerfull NOD32, simple, fast and effective. If you ask me, what I’d do in such a situation [happened to me quite a while ago too] I’d first scan with SpyBot [with latest updates], remove all offending entries, Run the protection shield, do a virus scan and never use IE again! Although IE with SP2 is quite secure too, I’d still recommend Opera or FF2. If a problem’s beyond me, I usually post in one of the forums and they usually give solutions that work. 🙂 [Damn, these guys should pay me for free advertising!]

    it’s already bad enough on dial-up
    Same here. Although its improved thanks to a few tricks I learned using FF2 and some cool extensions like AdBlock and IMGLikeOpera. 🙂

    Nice reading your blog. 🙂

  2. Dude, I have the filthiest system ever. Gawd knows whats lurking in the bowels of this laptop and the PC forget it? Dirty little system whores….But I don’t get pop-ups. So I don’t know what that’s like and when my connection gets slow I just clear the cache and go about my merry dirty way. (Dial-up and all)

    I am the biggest techno-gumby I know. I really should be sleeping with a computer geek…..but they’re slim on the ground where I am and I suspect the husband would take issue with that.

  3. I pay the money – about $50 or $60, and use Trend Internet Security. It seems to do everything needed and I’ve never had any trouble. However it does download a lot of updates, and some of those are big, esp if on dialup.

  4. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master. Great Blog!! That was amazing.

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