Fixing My Dad’s PC

Maybe the title of this entry isn’t quite right, because my father’s PC (actually, 21st century Harold has two PCs… and they’re networked) did work. It just didn’t work right.

My first hint of trouble was the fact that Windows SP2 couldn’t be installed. The second hint came when Steffie was here last month. She complained about pop-ups and not being able to reach certain sites.

Two things struck me when I looked at the PC. There were lots of pop-ups and weird tool bars were installed on Internet Explorer. None of this was good.

I started to work slowly, quizzing my dad on what he did or didn’t use. Ad-Aware showed a fair amount of spyware, but AVG gave him a clean bill of health on virii. Neither catch everything.

Then I began to uninstall things that didn’t look right or things he didn’t recognize.

He said the tool bars hadn’t been installed by him. That very well might be true. More likely they snuck in when he installed something else. His permission had been gotten in one of those click through licenses no one reads.

By late this evening, enough had been uninstalled that SP2 (which I brought on a CD from home) went in without a complaint. Then I continued to bring the computer up-to-date.

Finally, I looked at the start up section of ‘msconfig.’ Holy mackerel! What was this stuff? Weirdly named programs were starting themselves up every time he hit the power switch.

Now they’re gone.

I’ve rebooted a few times, and the system seems to come up cleanly. If any of those files were critical, we’ll soon know. In the meantime, XP and my father are playing nicely.

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