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System Restore; Possibly Your Computer’s Best Friend

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011

I have spent the better part of the last 24 hours trying to repair a friend’s computer. Actually, not quite a repair; seems he got a few viruses and malware on the computer while downloading shared music through Limewire. Suddenly he was getting all sorts of popups, then it wouldn’t let him open any programs except the one offered to fix everything; if you’re computer savvy you know where this one’s going.


by blisschan

Since it’s still on XP I went and pulled out trustly ol’ Combofix, which has never failed me in the past. And this time… it failed me! It wouldn’t load, consistently saying some file had crashed and asking if I wanted to send it to Microsoft for review. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don’t, but this seemed somewhat suspicious. So I looked it up on my computer and found that if I’d clicked on it more malware and nasty stuff would have been allowed onto the computer; ick.

I went through a litany of things; after all, I had just cleaned and fixed this computer about 2 months ago. Nothing was working, including going through the registry trying to track down this one particular virus. There were some programs that said they’d fix it for a price, but I wasn’t having it, especially for someone else’s computer.

Finally, I decided it was time to go back to square one. Okay, maybe not quite square one, since I didn’t start with that, but it was time to go to the WABAC Machine for this particular computer; it was time for System Restore.

System Restore is a program on your computer that allows you to reset your computer to a time and place before you added something new to your computer. If you’d downloaded songs and the like it won’t touch those, but if you’d loaded any programs whatsoever it would eliminate anything you’d done that affected the registry since the last time your computer had a system restore point. There are some folks who recommend turning this off to speed up your computer performance but trust me, it’s worth a slight decrease in speed to keep this sucker open.

I opened the program and went back about 4 weeks, which I figured was a safe enough period of time where this computer was running better, and I loaded it. The sucker took almost 30 minutes, but that’s okay because I knew when it was done almost everything would be fine.

And I was right. When it had completed its task all his icons were back, his wallpaper was back, and I opened a few programs just to make sure they were back as well; they were. I could have said I was done at that point, but nope, it was time to add more stuff.

There was no antivirus on the sucker, so I downloaded and added AVG, which is not only free but looks for a few other things than just viruses. Then I added a firewall, Zone Alarm, which still works great on XP computers. I ran a full scan on his system and found some minor virus that must have been residing there some time ago, and got rid of that. Otherwise the computer was now totally clean and, after telling tons of things that he and his wife had starting up automatically and sitting in the background to beat it, loading much faster.

System Restore just might be your best friend; whew!

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16 Comments »

Val:

Very good post, Mitch, and excellent advice. I’ve used system restore many times to get the pc back to working order after a virus. I don’t tend to touch the registry (am a bit nervous I’ll do something wrong,lol)but when I’ve tried all else – and I’m the ‘computer tech’ or what passes for one in this household – it’s system restore.

April 13th, 2011 | 7:17 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

It does work wonders Val. I always try to keep stuff first, but in these extreme cases it’s the way to go for sure.

April 13th, 2011 | 8:31 PM

Mitch, I am a Mac nut. You omitted a couple of lines on “Moral of the story/” Don’t download freebies.

April 14th, 2011 | 1:08 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Rummuser, I thought about it, but that would have taken me to a totally different cartoon! lol

April 14th, 2011 | 2:05 AM

I actually heard good things about system restore even if back when I was using Windows I was following the “disable it at all costs” school.
I never thought it would fix viruses problems as well but apparently it does, good to know.

April 14th, 2011 | 6:09 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’m not sure if it always works, Gabriele, but the couple of times I’ve used it things have worked out great.

April 15th, 2011 | 12:43 AM

Wow, scary story!

I had an attack last year after going to the History Channel’s website, of all places. Broke my heart. I needed a full system restore, as well.

I learned my lesson! I set up a firewall, and I added SUPERAntiSpyware. It’s saved my butt a few times already, as I do research for school. What’s funny is that I don’t download freebies or do any of that stuff that typically gives your computer STV’s (Sneakily-Transmitted Viruses), but reputable sites for researching my essays!

Delena

April 14th, 2011 | 8:12 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Delena, when you get it from a supposedly trustworthy site it’s the worst. I use a Firefox plugin called AVG Safe Search, which pops up an alarm if it thinks a page has something suspicious on it; I trust its judgment.

April 15th, 2011 | 12:45 AM

Always fresh backup, however not the one from Windows. 3rd Party software usually do better job, but let me explain why, most of the times, system restore point is the first place where malware or viruses stuck. So as soon as you restore from Windows, there is high probability this malicious software to be restored too.

April 14th, 2011 | 8:28 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Well Carl, you have to be willing to go back far enough to get beyond that type of thing. But I’ve never heard of either malware or viruses being able to overcome a restore point like that.

April 15th, 2011 | 12:48 AM

Sys Restore was my best friend in 2009… until I moved to a Mac and problems ceased.

April 14th, 2011 | 9:02 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Ari, we both know Macs get viruses, though they don’t seem to have as many threats. I’m actually pulling for more people to get Macs so the virus writers will go after y’all instead. lol

April 15th, 2011 | 12:48 AM

Being computer savvy, I don’t actually fall for this kind of things and if it happens I know what to do. Usually this spyware or adware, donno how the heck the they call it, is something that wants to extort money from you by telling you it can fix your system if you buy a license from them (good thing you didn’t got the one that really encrypted your files, and then you would have had really nasty one on your hands).

Now, the usual steps I go are:

enter task manager and try to find the program that is running, then I close it.
if that fails, I will try to look for the programs exe (and I have an utility installed that will delete any files, no matter how protect they are), then look into the startup registry keys and find if any of this programs start with the computer, restart.

If that succeeds, I then do a thorough scan, with 2 or 3 anti-viruses (usually any trial AV’s will give you the possibility to scan and clean your computer with the trial software).

Also, one other solution would be going safe mode and running more scans and any kind of app that looks for viruses.

April 14th, 2011 | 2:02 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Alex, I don’t use file sharing sites and I don’t download music like that anymore. But he fell right into the trap, got something on his computer, saw the ad for a free sweep, then another ad about this antivirus mess and he was hooked. It still amazes me how relatively smart people keep falling for these same traps.

April 15th, 2011 | 12:51 AM

Hey Mitch, that sounds like a very good program to have especially for someone like me totally not tech savvy. I’ve had my fair share of computers that died on me although I don’t think System Resource could have helped on many of those occasions. The last time it happened it was a Windows problem and it won’t even start and I had to send it for repair and recover all my files. But I shall remember this for sure. Thanks!

Peter

April 19th, 2011 | 4:32 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

No problem Peter; it works great in a pinch. Of course it won’t fix everything, but it comes pretty close.

April 19th, 2011 | 9:04 AM