Cleaning Windows

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What is adware?

Adware, also known as spyware, are like computer viruses, only instead of purposely trying to mess up your computer, they use your computer's resources to try to get information about you and send you advertisements. Some of them do such a good job messing up the computer, you'd think they were trying to do it on purpose.

The Adware Programmer's Motto: Now that i've messed up your computer, buy my pornography!

How do I get this adware out of my computer?

Download Ad-Aware to your desktop and run it:
1. Click on the link marked "Ad-Aware". This will open up another window (as well as a pop-up advertisement from Angelfire).
2. Wait a seconds and a grey box marked "File Download" will appear. Click the "Save" it.
3. In the dropdown marked "Save in:", make sure that the dropdown is set to "Desktop" so that you can find it easily.
4. Click "Save". The file will be download to the desktop, where all your icons are.
5. Hit the "X" at the top right of all the other windows that are up besides this one. Click the "-" at the top right of this window to minimize this window and return to your desktop (where the wallpaper is) and look for an new icon labelled "aaw6".
6. Double-click the "aaw6" icon.
7. Keep clicking Next until Ad-Aware is installed on the computer.
8. Look for another icon on your desktop labelled Ad-Aware 6.0 and double-click that.
9. Click "Start" and then click "Next". It will then start scanning the computer. This will take several minutes.
10. Check mark everything on the list.
11. Click "Next" and then "Finish".

How do I get these viruses off my computer?

Run Trend Micro's free online scan or the free trial version of Norton Anti-virus 2004 from PCWorld. There are also some other useful computer security downloads on that second link.

How do I run the Trend Micro scan?

1. Click on the link above marked "Trend Micro's free online scan".
2. Select "United States" and click "Go".
3. Wait for the Active Update to finish loading.
4. Check mark "My Computer".
5. Check mark "Auto Clean"
6. Click the "Scan" button.

What is a 'startup' item?

Startup items are programs that automatically start up as soon as Windows is loaded and continue to run in the background as you use your computer. A lot of adware and viruses add themselves to the Startup Menu so that they can automatically run as soon as you turn on your computer.

How do I configure the Startup Menu so that it doesn't load the startup items I don't want?

1. Pull up the startup list below. If you choose to download the list, you will need to go to the desktop, double-click the zipped folder "startups_all". A window with an html document "startups_all" will appear. Double-click it and this will bring up the list.

Direct link to Startup item list (Suggested for broadband users)

Download Startup item list (Suggested for dial-up users)

On the Startup Item List, there will be a Y next to the startup item if it's something important. There will be an N if it's something that isn't generally useful. Anything that falls in the grey area of maybe useful is marked with a U. There will be an X if it's some adware or virus you definitely don't want. A ? means that the item is unidentifiable; go ahead and uncheck it.

2. Click on Start, then click Run.
3. Type "msconfig" into the dialog box marked 'Open:' and click OK.
4. Click on the Startup tab at the top of the Configuration Utility menu. This will bring you to the startup list. Each of these are programs that automatically run every time you turn on windows. Each uses up part of your computer's memory so that it work continuously in the background.
5. Uncheck all the boxes of the don't want and click OK. You don't have to click Apply; OK is enough.
6. The computer will ask you to restart. Click Yes.
7. The computer will restart and you will get an alert that you are using Selective Startup. Checkmark the box that says "Don't Show Me This Again" and click OK.

If you want to recheck every startup you have all at once, you can click on the General tab and put the dot next to "Normal Startup". If you want to uncheck every startup all at once, you can click on the General tab and uncheck the box labelled "Load startup group items".

Are there some startup items I absolutely need?

None of them will cause a computer malfunction if they are unchecked, but there are some that you definitely want running, such as:

"ScanRegistry": This makes backups of your computer's registry in case something goes wrong and you need to use System Restore or scanreg /restore
"LoadPowerProfile": manages things like monitor shut off and system standby
"TaskMonitor": records what programs you open up so that the disk defragmenter tool can set the most frequently used programs to load faster
"SystemTray": Displays the tray icons that appear next to the clock, like volume control
Anti-virus Startups: Norton and McAfee need to use a lot of startups to run properly. A lot of Norton's startup items begin with "Cc".

What about these other startups for programs I use all the time, like AOL?

These don't stop the application itself from working. They only put the icon on your system tray, next to the clock, and/or load the application up partially so that it will come up a little faster when you open it.

How can I go back to a time before my computer messed up?

A. If you have Windows Me or Windows XP, use System Restore:

Click on the Start button, go to Programs, then click Accessories, then System Tools, and System Restore will be the last one on the list. If you have a lot of programs, you may need to click the two down-arrows in order to see everything on the list. Once in System Restore, click "Next" and look on the calandar for a date before your computer problems started. You can only go back to dates that are in bold. Click on the bold date and click "Next" two more times. You will not lose any copmuter files by using System Restore. If you don't like what happened, you can always use System Restore again to go 'back to the future'.

B. If you have Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me, then you can restore the registry with "scanreg /restore".

If you are using Windows Me, click on the Start button, then click "Run", and type "scanreg /restore" where it says "Open" and click OK. Click "Yes" to continue and pick the date you want to go back to.

If you are using Windows 95 or 98, you will have to get to a DOS prompt before you can run it. You can sometimes do this by clicking on Start, going to Shut Down, and picking "Restart in MS-DOS mode" from the drop-down menu.

Another way to get to MS-DOS is to put in your System Restoration CD in the computer and shut down the computer. When you turn it back on, it should ask you if you want to "Boot to the Hard Drive" or "Boot to the CD-ROM". It will only be there a couple of seconds, so quickly use the down arrow button to highlight "Boot to CD-ROM" and press enter. Then choose "Exit to MS-DOS" prompt from the menu.

Once you are in MS-DOS:

1. Type in "c:" and enter and it should display 'C:\>'.
2. Type "cd windows" and press enter.
3. Type "cd command" and press enter.
4. Type "scanreg /restore" and press enter.
5. Pick the date you want to go back to.

Is there a way to boot into Windows without getting all these errors or lockups?

If you having trouble getting into Windows, the best thing to do it try to boot into "Safe Mode". Just restart the computer and keep tapping the F8 button about once a second while the computer is in the process of booting up. You should get an option menu before Windows loads up. Use the arrow buttons and enter to pick Safe Mode. If that doesn't work, try tapping the F5 button while the computer is booting up. Booting to Safe Mode means that the computer does not load up any of the hardware drivers- the software that runs your modem, hi speed internet card, USB ports, sound card, or video card (that's why everything looks so big). It also doesn't load any of the startups- the background programs that often cause boot errors and lockups.

How do I back up my computer files?

Put a blank floppy disk in your computer. Right-click on the file you want to copy and pick "Copy". Then go to your desktop and double-click "My Computer". Right-click on "3 1/2 Floopy (A:)" and click "Paste". That will copy the file from your computer to the floppy disk.

How do I erase everything and start over?

This link will give you instructions on how to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows. But basically you just get out your installation discs, insert the Windows Operating System CD (usually CD #2 in a pack of 3), and restart the computer. The computer will read the disc and bring up the menu for reinstalling Windows.

How can I find information about a specific Windows error?

Type it into Google.

What if I have some other problem?

EMail me