The tale of the infected computer

This is going to be brief.  For the last several days I’ve been dealing with computer woes.  The problems had been going on for some time but lately I’ve been working on getting it fixed.

Basically, I’ve been having two problems.  The more serious was that from time to time programs on my computer would freeze and report “Not responding”. And generally, when one went, everything went.  I’d have to sit and wait for several minutes for the computer to respond again, then I could use it as normal until the next time it froze.  Sometimes, I could go days with no problems.  Other times, every ten minutes.  In the latter case, it essentially rendered the computer unusable.

Needless to say, this was interfering with things like writing.  I’m working hot on a story then…”not responding”.  A few minutes later it’s back, but I have no idea what I was going to say next.

I could, of course, have gone to a computer shop and gotten help but 1) I didn’t want to spend the money (I would if I had to, but I didn’t want to) and 2) I’ll be honest; I’ve got things on the computer I really don’t want people pawing through.  Yes, yes, I know, I won’t have anything the professionals at Geek World (or wherever) haven’t seen before, but still…

Fortunately, there was another avenue.  There are sites on the Internet where people will help you with computer problems.  One of these is SpywareInfo Forums.  That’s where I went.  First I had to run some programs to check the current status of my computer.  they check what’s running, what processes are running, do an initial look for malware, and generally provide information for the knowledgeable geeks at the site to begin to know how to help.

So, I head over there and I find that, yes, I’m infected with malware. (I do a lot of research which can take me to strange corners of the Internet and, well, I don’t know what I’m going to find until I go.) But also a number of important Windows services aren’t running.

First we get the malware off my system.  The person helping me at Spywareinfo forums walks me through several procedures.  Eventually we get the computer clean.  Then we begin working on restoring the missing services.

And finally we get my system back to a working configuration.  Not quite fixed yet entirely but it looks like the “Not Responding” only happens when one of the Mozilla products–FireFox or Thunderbird–is running.  I had Chrome as my backup browser and am using it right now with Firefox uninstalled.  Normally I always kept Thunderbird running in the background and just switched in to check the latest messages from time to time but for the time being until I can either get that problem fixed or until I replace it with something else I figure I’ll just only open it periodically to grab and read emails which might mean having to wait through periods of “not responding” while Thunderbird catches up on whatever it’s doing.

But that’s why I haven’t been able to get any writing done lately.  Still not quite fixed, but I can see the light.  Now if it’s not just an oncoming train.

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