Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Virus

How to deal with a computer virus:
  1. Spend two days playing system administrator, running every virus and malware scan imaginable to try and track down something. Without knowing exactly what you're doing. Hope the computer still boots when you're done.
  2. Become immensely frustrated.
  3. Order pizza.
  4. Buy an external hard drive to backup data to prepare the computer to have its drive wiped.
  5. Take the computer to NC State University's IT department and let them deal with it.
I haven't actually done step #5 yet but that's next. We have two computers in our house: A laptop we got for me to use for school and a desktop I've had since 2002. Even though the desktop is archaic by computer standards it works fine for our purposes, particularly since I have the laptop to use for newer, space-hog and memory-intensive programs. About a week ago the desktop started notifying us that the virus definitions hadn't been updated in over 14 days. Then when I tried to run LiveUpdate (which should be running automatically) nothing happened. (The desktop uses an old copy of Symantec Anti-Virus. It did its job just fine until recently!) Finally, when I tried to go to the Symantec Web site in any browser it failed (with different errors depending on the browser). Further testing revealed I couldn't get to the McAfee site, either, and clicking on Google links to anti-virus related sites were often redirected. Eventually it dawned on me these were all probably signs of a virus.

This was supposed to be my week "off." I thought I'd finally have time to attack various things on my list that never get done, and start working on my capstone project for this semester. Instead, with classes starting in only three days, my list is virtually untouched and I'm feeling way behind where I wanted to be with the project. Instead of working on those things I lost two days of my life to a computer: Not sitting in front of it getting work done like I'd planned, but attempting to deal with the first computer virus of my computing life. (Since my dad worked with computers we had computers in our house way before it was fashionable to do so. I've been around home computers for a LONG time.) Suffice it to say I was completely unsuccessful in my attempt, other than last I checked the computer still booted. (This is a good thing.)

Thanks to being a student I can take the computer to my school's IT department and let them try to fix it, which will most likely mean wiping the drive, reinstalling the operating system and starting from scratch. The computer has been through a lot in the seven-and-a-half years I've owned it so a good wiping probably isn't a bad idea. Eventually we'll replace the desktop computer with something newer, but at least this will allow us to put it off a little longer.


  1. A long time ago I had a virus on my computer where it would attack the minute the computer was turned on. Greg was able to copy something from his computer to mine that started it in "safe mode" and uploaded the antivirus from that point. I was miserable! We are so relient upon computers working. That's scary!

  2. viruses = strike terror into my soul!


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