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The Super n00b Guide to Fixing Your Computer or: Safe Mode is No Way to Live, My Friend

It’s no secret that I live life on the edge *wink* . When it comes to the great, dark expanses of the internet I tend to pass my time stomping along the thin line separating safe-but-foolish and well-now-you’re-just-being-reckless. Of course given my risky life choices, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have to put up with the occasional infection *doublewink*. I don’t get them often, and usually the symptoms are easily treated with good ol’ system restore back to a safe point. However, for some reason, the last two great meltdowns of my computer have refused me that option. So, I thought I’d put together a little guide for Future Me (and Potential Readers) so that I can remember what to do when the first line of attack fails. Note to all of my computer savvy friends: PLEASE don’t hesitate to correct me if (…when) I say something stupid.

The last three or so problems I’ve had with my computer have been the sudden appearance of “Antivirus” applications insisting that I use them cure my computer of its contracted afflictions. Obviously, do not click or in any way acknowledge these programs. How do you know if it’s fake? You should know what security programs you have installed and hopefully a) They know how to properly spell words and b) you can recognize the application on sight (is it bad that I won’t trust something completely written in Verdana?) Again, assuming you can’t system restore, boot in Safe mode (with networking) and get ready to strike.

First, GOOGLE THAT SHIT. Chances are, there are other people in the world that have been affected by this same virus/spyware/adware/whathaveyou. Which means someone smarter and more capable may have already fixed it. Word. This should go unsaid, but be cautious whose advice you listen to- people telling you to download suspicious software to fix something probably don’t have your best interest in mind.

Second, go into msconfig and look through the programs that are starting up with your computer. Disable anything that looks sketchy (within reason). Unfortunately, this became very frustrating for me since the location listed for said sketchtastic files didn’t actually exist in my computer (searching with windows explorer OR command prompt). But hey, disable away.

Third, gather your battalions. The champion of this round was Malwarebytes. It was the final, deadly blow to those sneaky trojans. But before that, I used Spybot-Search and Destroy, which also found infected files (possibly other latent problems. You’re welcome, Future Me). For whatever reason, this most recent infection rendered Trend Micro, Avast! and AVG completely useless. But multiple lines of attack are always a good idea. So see whatever works for you (Ooo Frittata, that’s cure-a-licious!) Though, do note that if you have a lot of pirated software *cough* don’t use Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool because uhm… I’ve heard it does bad things to your entire workflow. And life in general.

Fourth, pester your IT friends. I put this one last because no one likes being “THAT GUY/gal” that everyone turns to for help. But you never know, sometimes they have the human insight that Google lacks (…for now). Start off with “Yes, I have tried turning it on and off again , and here is a detailed explanation of what I have done so far.” Then, no matter the result, buy them a beer (I owe you a keg, Mister Kyle, mostly for listening to me complain so much. But also for helping a sistah out.)

There. Hooray for regaining sound! and a resolution better than 800×600! Plus now Me-in-6-Months will have a compilation of fun links to turn to when the self-aware Skynet sends another brigade of trojans to infect my innocent system. That’s how you get viruses, right? Definitely not through porn or pirated software. Nope.

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