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.
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?
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?
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)