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Dying computer-I helped


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#1 sthacker

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:23 PM

My daughter's computer, running Windows 98 SE, has been giving them fits for a couple of weeks. After a half to three quarters of an hour, (online) uncalled for sites start showing up until the computer just locks up. BRS time, which means scandisk and all the time that goes with shutting down abnormally.

Enter the savior, (Dad) with a bag of tricks including SpyBot, Ad-Aware, and plans for Zone Alarm. After cleaning with both aforementioned products, the system seemed to run faster, but after going online for a while, the undesired screens began popping up again. I re-cleaned, noting several sightings of 'Istsvc' during the evening. Another attempt online failed, and I went home to regroup. I found a utility from which appeared to address the problem I saw. It was Adware.Istbar from Symantec, and was free!! I downloaded that to a CD and went back yesterday for a marathon session that only got worse. I planned to clean with all three programs, then go online and before enough junk could be downloaded to lock up the computer, get Zone Alarm downloaded to hopefully stop the re-population. I don't think all the damaging stuff could be hidden, I feel it is just a bootstrap that gets major help as soon as an internet link is established?

Anyway, I don't remember details of exactly what happened, but I did not get Zone Alarm downloaded. Bottom line is that during cleaning, trying, cleaning, retrying, etc, something got deleted that should not have, and now I cannot get on the internet at all. No, that's wrong, I can connect, but any request brings the screen "Error-server could not be found", or something close to that . I've seen it a million times but never stopped to memorize it. I think from the messages at start-up time that a module(s) are missing in a modem driver. I have a note scribbled on a paper '3ccntry.dl_. Don't really remember where that came from, it was getting late. Seems to me now that if the modem software was bad we wouldn't be able to connect at all?

I have HijackThis downloaded to my home computer. Can I unzip this, then copy it to a disk to take with me this evening? I want to copy it to the Win98 system, and we are several miles apart. I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling about getting her system on line real soon. My plan is to:
1. Clean Win98 system with Spybot, Ad-Aware, and Adware.Istbar
2. Copy HJT to a root directory from my CD
I have the 34 page tutorial printed and will read it before starting HJT
3. Hopefully I can find and download some modem files to have on hand
4. Where do I go from here....................?

Regards,
Stan

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#2 TexasAngel67

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:33 PM

Stan,
You're on the right track. The plan with HijackThis is a definite 'go'. Yes, you can save that to disk and run on the problem computer. It's such an awesome program that doesn't even require any rocket science. Feel free to get that on the computer, scan a log, and bring it right back to us. The key is to not make any changes yourself.
As far as the internet problem, take full advantage of her ISP - Internet Service Provider. Call them up and talk to a tech. They are a free resource and can often quickly point out the human error made and get things back to normal. But in some cases, a HijackThis log may detect an issue as well.
Good luck and I'll be watching for your replies to this thread.

~67~

P.S. Zone Alarm is a fine firewall and it's a great deal since it's free. Just remember that it's the hugest resource hog out there. Your system resources will drop quite a bit.

#3 Scarlett

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:47 PM

Spybot, AdAware and ZoneAlarm are fine programs. But is there an antivirus installed? If not, it is something you should most definitely consider.
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#4 sthacker

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 09:06 PM

Thanks, Scarlett, for the question. I thought Zone Alarm was an anti-virus. That's why I was trying to download it on the failing computer to block further converstion with the worm or whatever it's called that seems to be well hidden in the computer. I have it running on my laptop which is running XP Home, and it seems to be checking traffic both directions. I've noticed the slow down alluded to in the response by TexasAngel67, and decided I'd live with the overhead. Am I out in left field? Perhaps I don't have the protection I thought I have, and have just been lucky?

Stan

#5 TexasAngel67

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 10:33 PM

Stan,

Zone Alarm is a firewall. Your free antivirus programs available online will do the job for you. You can get AVG, the most recent version, you will find here. I can tell you firsthand that it's really great.
Zone Alarm can be confusing, as well as other firewalls if you aren't familiar with how they work. Before any download, be sure you read up on it so you are able to get the most out of it. Zone Alarm is a huge resource hog. But you can Google or do a Yahoo search for 'free firewall download' and an array of options will be in your view.
You can ask for opinions on anything you consider.

Hope this helps.
~67~

#6 Guest_screwworm_*

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:28 AM

As a final resort to all problems on this NEC computer I bought...and on which I am now running Win 98SE, I can always run the restore/recovery CD. That will wipe out everything and place back the same settings as when I left the computer store. Of course I would have to first transfer all files and folders to a disk(to save them) and after restoring computer put them back on computer. Also have to install and update all the essentials since 1998, the year I bought the computer. Its a lot of work but the computer will be restored to original setting with all else wiped out.

Your computer mfg might also have provide such a restore disc- if all else fails.

#7 TexasAngel67

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:35 PM

Hi Stan,
How about we start off with you letting us know what you do have on the system?
Please list your Antivirus program, firewall, spyware/adware programs, etc...
Then we can see if you are decently protected. I, and a few others, will view your
list and guide you from there.

~67~

#8 Scarlett

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 12:59 PM

Yes as ~67~ has said, it would be helpful to know what all you already have in place. Then you can fill in the gaps. You need at least two adware/spyware programs, a Firewall and an Antivirus.

Just to give you a nudge in the right direction. :thumbsup:

Visit this link. There you will find all the ins and outs of computer safety.

Simple Steps to Keep Your Computer Secure!


SpywareBlaster is great to have also. It is spoke of and linked to in the above linked info. I suggest that you d/l that too.
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#9 sthacker

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 01:46 PM

WOW, I can't believe all the help available here!

The truth is, I don't know what's on the computer. It's getting so bogged down that I can't get on the internet, so I had to go to her house, copy HJT from a CD that I made at home, do a scan, copy it to a floppy, come home and copy the log to my computer, and I will put it on the proper board.

Now, I have several related questions on different boards. Should I pursue them that way or put all observations on the 'log' board? For now I'll just send the log and wait for an answer here.

Stan

#10 TexasAngel67

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:09 PM

Regarding questions added to the HJT log, you may just want to give a brief description on some of the unfamiliar activity the computer is experiencing.
Questions that pertain to Win98 can be posted in this forum with the subject line pointing to the category the question(s) at hand.
If you have security issues, try that particular thread. The reasons being are so that the appropriate help is given and also so that others with similar problems can view the thread for advice as well.
The antivirus can be seen often at bootup right after (usually) WindowsME loads. If your daughter kept the AV that came with the system, it will be Norton or McAfee. If she removed the manufacturer installed AV, she may have gone with AVG or Avast, just to name a couple. If she has nothing, she's got a major problem. Computers can live without a firewall but not an antivirus. I can give my personal opinions as well as the other members here, but take it for what it is. Do what you feel is most comfortable. I believe we all have something to offer but some of us are wiser than others. IF you were to ask me, here's what I would be sure your daughter's system had installed.
AVG is an awesome AV program. Free and easy to use and install.
Spybot S&D is a great program for detecting and removing spyware and other baddies. Free and easy to use.
Ad-Aware is a spyware/adware removal program. Free and easy to use.
HijackThis is vital for spyware/adware/virus/browser hijacks. Free and easy to use.
SpywareDoctor, SpywareBlaster, SpySweeper are all awesome as well. All free and easy to use.
The most important are the first four I've listed. AVG, IF she has no AV. If she has Norton or McAfee or any other AV, that's great. The next most important thing is to make sure EVERYTHING she has is updated regularly. Check for updates with each program every week or two (you have to be online).

Just don't feel overwhelmed. Once she has some protection on her system and her issues at hand are resolved, Dad gets to relax. But have her bake you a pie for all your hard work. :thumbsup:

~67~

P.S. The Log will give us plenty of answers to our questions on what is installed on her system. I'll be looking for the log.

Edited by TexasAngel67, 01 March 2005 - 02:10 PM.


#11 sthacker

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:28 PM

I am just reeling at the quick, friendly help here. Thanks for all your support.

I have questions about my own system, which is XP. Since this is a 98 board, I think it's best to let it lie idle now, unless I need to post here after hearing from the log I submitted this morning.

I have a thread in the security board, and I'll post my questions there about my computer.

The answers are coming so fast, I'm having trouble getting them getting them all in place in my head. I guess old age is he--. I make a mental note of something, and find I have nothing to write on.

Stan

#12 TexasAngel67

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 02:37 PM

Aww I don't buy that for a minute.
I did glance at the log though and allow me to say that it's ugly. :thumbsup:
I do see McAfee AV on her system, though. I'll leave it to the experts
but many of those entries are junk - they'll tell ya what to do.

Feel free to post any and all questions, in whichever threads.
We'll get to them all. In the meantime, get pen and paper and make
notes. :flowers: .

It just seems overwhelming. It gets better and easier, I promise.

~67~

#13 sthacker

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 02:08 AM

Well, I'm back. Like a bad penny. Or as my son-in-law tells me, like a rash.

I got a clean bill of health after my can of worms. It was really fairly easy, just a couple of runs. I've seen logs with several iterations including downloads of several cleaners. Maybe we were luckier than I had thought.

Anyway, now that the computer will run, I need to fix the problems that were caused by the bugs or my repairs. I mentioned before, but to keep you all from having to jump back and forth, here's what I have:

When I arrived the machine would run on the internet, but only for a short time.

After some doses of SpyBot and Ad-Aware and maybe the Symantec fix for ISTSVC, we could get on line, but any requests gave the error page that says to refresh, and let IE check your settings for you, etc.

Soon we could not get on the internet at all.

During boot there is a message about a missing driver file in C:WindowsSystemsVHSINIT.VXD

Then another missing file in a McAfee folder. I ignored this because this has not been updated for some time, so they don't run it!

I've tried deleting the modem drivers hoping Windows would reinstall them, but I can't make that happen. Today I powered down, removed the modem card, powered up, then down, repluged the modem, and powered up. Again, hoping Windows would think it a new modem and install new drivers. I'm stumped.

Any of this make any sense to anyone? Seen any symptoms like or near any that I have? I'd sure love to get back on line so I could download some police=ware for that thing.

Stan

#14 TexasAngel67

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 03:48 AM

Welcome back and happy to hear the machine is clean.
Now to fix the errors and such.
The C:WindowsSystemsVHSINIT.VXD is a McAfee file.


IF you wish to remove McAfee and be done with it completely, click here and follow the instructions. You can go with AVG (which I like and used) instead. I do have McAfee on this system (WinME) and I was actually able to get updated. For my version of McAfee VirusScan (v. 5.1), it needed 2 updates. Easily done. I just placed them in my McAfee folder. With AVG, however, it tells you when you need updates, which is nice. The option is there, up to you to choose either path.
I hate to reiterate this whole antivirus issue with you, especially if it is becoming annoying, but many people think that they are stuck with whatever is on their system and that's just not correct.

Regarding the internet, I'd like you to do this:
First, read this.
Second, which ISP are we talking about? Always consider phoning them because many of them (can't speak for certain ISP's) really are experts. It's free advice and they can help diagnose the issue, step by step, with them right on the phone and with you (or your daughter) right at the computer. If she is not happy with her ISP, she should dump them immediately and move on to another.
Third, check the internet settings. This is found (often) by opening the ISP connection box (as if to connect to dial up internet) but go through settings rather than connect. This sometimes can only be done while offline. Depends on the ISP.
Fourth, Start>Settings>Control Panel>Modems>General Tab>Properties>Connection. Be sure the box is UNchecked for "disconnect if idle for more than __ minutes". When you get to the General tab, the particular modem installed will be highlighted in that box.

Also, click here for McAfee updates and downloads. Some stuff will be a sales pitch. But the updates are free and it has useful information should you continue with McAfee.

Hope some of this has helped. Let us know.

#15 sthacker

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 12:43 PM

Appreciate all the good advice. I'll be heading over to try it all as soon as I finish here. A couple of questions while I'm gone. Your first link, get rid of McAfee, gives me a little yellow icon outlined on red. Like a disaster splat in an old comic book. I saw it earlier when I tried to link to a 'private message' in Grinler's pinned, help wanted post. I've never taken the time to run that down. Ever seen it? Is it some setting in my 'puter that's keeping me from some links?

Second, is a Texas Angel in Texas? My wife and I generally spend 5 or 6 months in Texas in the winter, so of course I'm curious if we're neighbors.

Thanks again, check you when I get back from fixing the kid's problem.

Stan




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