Friday, May 14, 2010

Bugs! Bugs! and More Bugs

Spider (ClickArt)
Despite hiring an immaculate housekeeper, and, believe me, she is, the Advent of Spring has invaded the house with an assortment of critters, including a "granddaddy long legs" spider which fell on me while in my recliner, some things that look like ants in a bathroom, and maybe a flea.

Ant {ClickArt)
Today is Call the Terminator, oops! Exterminator Day.
[Don't gross out over the artwork. I was contemplating a piece of clipart which was a green paper cup filled with cockroaches, some which were crawling around the rim.]

However, I found more bugs of the digital type, when my husband [H] began to complain about his cranky computer which is not very old and further has very little on it like personal files. I occasionally glanced at his computer when I passed by and noticed it seemed sluggish. But since we purchased his computer, I had replaced a laptop with a whiz-bang speedster as a reward for my 25 lb loss, I figured I just was comparatively thinking.

However, I began to notice he rebooted frequently and in the worst way, what we techies call a hard boot-the off/on button. Then one day I noticed he rebooted and moved his cursor around to get his icons to appear and it ran like molasses in the winter. Still he said nothing until he no longer could assess the Internet. Then he called for his in-home tech support, me.

Computer Doc (ClickArt)
Late one night when he went to bed (9:30 p.m.) I sat down to find, as I suspected, viruses or the more common "Trojan horse or worm." [THW]

We both use AVG Home Free and have keep viral definitions current. For 10 years I've few infections on numerous computers. I checked H's AVG Virus Vault which contained one item, a THW. This usually means the computer is safe until you make a decision to clear the vault or delete it as AVG could not "heal" it.

Considering its behavior, I decided there must be more than one dastardly resident among all those hieroglyphics.

First I tried to run a free virus scan on one of the major anti-virus sites. Oops. forgot he could not access the Internet!!! One of those senior moments!

I began a search for cure of the one virus named in the Virus Vault. In the process on of my reliable sites for information is . This site, its user forum and its associate site,, have never ceased to be a source of good information.  However, this time I landed on a Yahoo site and used its instructions to remove the naughty little bugs.

A search on my computer came up with suggestions from the virus forum to use FOUR separate programs to clean up the computer, some of which had to completed in safe mode with System Restore turned off.

I faithfully downloaded the 4 programs and printed the step-by-step instructions from my computer (remember his could not access Internet or e-mail).  If I carefully follow step-by-step instructions, I usually stay out of trouble. I have a routine where I read each step several times before actually performing its instruction.

Usually a short scan, sometimes described as a "system" scan, is sufficient to catch most bugs. However, I had no idea what I might encounter, so I decided to have each program scan the entire computer's system and installed software programs, downloads, hard drive and system and video memory.

I soon found this was a 30 minute scan on a computer with relatively few programs or personal files. But I am a stubborn person. I decided to endure this boredom to be thorough. Since the programs indicated that I could continue to use the computer, I accumulated 20-30 wins of Free Cell over the course of the 5-hour night which I renamed  Five Hours of Darkness and Pain..

Each program found additional THWs, no true viruses. Most of these THWs were what I call tracking. I would not call them harmless, however, as they report to someone your habits and activities and possibly try to steal personal information. The replicating type (steal your address book and send it to others) is less popular among the criminal element now, as the ones that can give bank accounts, credit card info.

Three of the 7 THWs on H's computer were the backdoor stealing information type.

Please note, one program did not find all of the THWs; it took four.  AVG had found 1. MalWareByte found 1; Norman Malware found 3; Super Anti-Spyware found 1, FakeAlert Removal tool-1.

I will provide links to these programs. I installed MalWareByte and Norman Malware to run at regular intervals.

At 2:30 a.m. H's computer was up and whizzing along speedily, accessing the Internet.....and I was temporarily sick of Free Cell!

But that is not the end of the story. Even though my newest laptop was running great, I decided to run the programs on mine. Guess what I had 7 THWs, too, and none the same as H's. (We are on the same wireless network.) These scans ran as long as 3.5 hours; I have lots of programs and personal files!

Five files on my computer were in compressed (zipped) very old programs in a Downloads folder; I downloaded and transferred these files through about 5 desktops and laptops but never unpacked and installed, hence not active. The remaining two files are Hewlett Packard, update of which they will be notified.

Now there is a possibility some were "false alerts." But I take no chances. The Delete/Empty Wastebasket immediately technique is my mode operand of choice.

Now I am considering whether I should choose and pay for one of the major AntiVirus programs or suites. AVG Home Free has never failed me in this fashion for 8 years. They do have a paid version with much better rates than the two major programs. you get what you pay for???

The two major anti-virus programs gave me major installation headaches when I worked for a small computer upstart, building and installing operation systems.

Here are the four removal programs as recommended by CNET and their web sites:The programs suggested to be run in this order were:
1. Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware
2. Fake AntiVirus
3. Super Anti-Spyware
4. Norman Malware Cleaner

Here is the final link I used to establish procedures:

I don't guarantee either computer is completely clean, as evidenced by my comments, nor than even 4 programs did the job.

I caution myself and others no one program is fool proof; any of these removal tools can report false positives. In fact Hewlett Packard reported back to me saying in so many words this appears to be the case of the files I reported to them. Too bad! I deleted them anyway.

I am researching paid anti-viral and malware protection programs. One of the top rated programs, Bit Defender,  allows protection for 3 computers from one purchase at a decent price. Haven't' checked cost of definition updates yet.  Although not entirely convinced this one is leading the line in my mind, to date.

[ClickArt is a modestly priced program of 950,000 various art including photos, most of which are free of copyrights. In order to be sure I comply with the few which may be copyrighted, I intend to attribute the program ClickArt every time I use anything. To have art ready sometimes is the difference between posting or not.  I've used ClickArt software in earlier versions for 15 years. i bought this version in Staples, Southern Pines, SC.  A newer version is available.]


Arkansas Patti said...

Yikes, my head hurts from here. Just went through that mess my self. I switched from AVG's paid program to Kaspersky at my compurter guys recommendation. He also installed Malwarebytes for me. I do a full scan with both about every two days,I am sorry it doesn't have a way to schedule a scan. It takes quite a while so I start it when I am leaving the house for a while.
Good luck with keeping it running smoothly. Don't think there are any hard and fast answers.

Linda said...

You are way too far over my head on this one. I'm glad though there are smart people like you in the world.

Patty said...

Wow, all of those viruses gave me a headache. Glad the computer (hubby's) is up and running great now. Have a wonderful week-end.

faye said...

Norton and Ad-aware have worked well
for me. I have quite a few back up
systems, so if one is down I can keep
working while I de-bug if needed.

Amber Star said...

STOMPSTOMPSTOMP! There...all fixed.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Wow! You are a REAL pro!! I have Malware and McAfee...but guess I should look into some of these others...This was a very helpful post! Thanks for sharing all of this with us. Love, Janine XO

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Just here to give my love to my very dear friend! You always make me smile!! Love you so much! Janine XO