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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, '07, 3:42 pm 
I'm sure a few others are stuck being the unofficial computer fixer for family and friends. I'm a Java/.NET software developer but to most that translates to "he fixes computers". So over the years I've fixed numerous spyware infections, bad drivers, fragmented drives, and so on.

Last year I cleaned up a particularly bad spyware infestation on my sister's computer. She installed some IE toolbar that was the culprit. I told her to be more careful and use Firefox and so on.

All was well until last week.. Apparently it was crashing all the time again; I went over to look at it and found a bad virus. When I say "bad" I mean it installed a rootkit and would be virtually impossible to remove. Well, I could pop-out the hard drive, hook it up via USB to another machine, delete the virus, run an XP repair from the CD, and hope for the best. It would eat about 4 hours in total.

I asked what the last thing she did on the computer was but didn't get anywhere. I ran through a list of possible sources and found out that she bought a DVD of bootleg MP3s from a questionable market (they're not that hard to find). You can probably do the math: autorun.exe + running as admin = rootkit install.

I told her I wasn't going to fix it and she'd have to try the Best Buy or Circuit City repair center. Suddenly I was the bad guy :fiery:

I look at it this way - if I was a mechanic I'd fix a leaking brake line for a relative for free. However, if that same relative got totally drunk and wrapped their car around a tree I wouldn't do free body work.

I decided last night that I'm not going to fix any computer problems that people brought on themselves. Bad hard drive sector, OK. Virus from a * site, not fixing it.

Where would you draw the line on providing free tech support?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, '07, 5:38 pm 
I understand your frustrations. I also can sympathize with your sister as far as having to rely on other people to help with computer problems, etc.

Also, I can only imagine how much one of those computer fixing shops would charge to fix a computer - and how long it might take them to do it - especially now in the holiday season.

Just an idea but if you can fix it, why not fix it this time as a Christmas Present to her. It would probably mean a lot to her.

I know I get absolutely crazy without my computer - it's almost like a lifeline sometimes, ya know. It is funny how addictive we can become to them.

Also, maybe make it plain to her (in a gentle way) that this may be the last time you fix it if she continues to download stuff like that, etc., etc., etc. Maybe even teach her a bit about how to do it herself or something, if she is savy that way - or include her in the process somehow and show her just how much time and effort goes into fixing it so she will understand just how much of a wonderful gift you are giving her. Maybe she will be ever so thankful to you, and gain new understanding along the way.

It's the holiday season, and a time of good cheer if at all possible, and giving to others, and maybe not worth the possible friction, pain, bad feelings between family members now. Too much of that all year long sometimes in some cases.

Just my humble opinion. :tree:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, '07, 7:03 pm 
Hey man, I feel your pain. Don't fix it for her. Let her learn a lesson the hard way. :muttering:


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, '07, 10:45 pm 
Secret_Surfer wrote: Just an idea but if you can fix it, why not fix it this time as a Christmas Present to her. It would probably mean a lot to her.

I know I get absolutely crazy without my computer - it's almost like a lifeline sometimes, ya know. It is funny how addictive we can become to them.

Also, maybe make it plain to her (in a gentle way) that this may be the last time you fix it if she continues to download stuff like that, etc., etc., etc. Maybe even teach her a bit about how to do it herself or something, if she is savy that way - or include her in the process somehow and show her just how much time and effort goes into fixing it so she will understand just how much of a wonderful gift you are giving her. Maybe she will be ever so thankful to you, and gain new understanding along the way.

It is hard to find fault with that plan. Last time this happened I gave her the "how to not get a virus" lesson but I didn't bring up questionable DVDs :bang:

I did stop by today to show her how to get it into safe mode (where it doesn't crash) so she can backup stuff to an external drive. I told her if she backs-up what she wants to keep then I'd format the drive and reinstall XP. It turns out Best Buy wants $200 to do the same which is totally insane :down:. Anyway, I thought that was a decent enough compromise since trying to remove the virus and restore the original system files would take at least twice as long as starting over.

The only good thing to come out of this.. It reminded me of how bad it sucks to lose important files (and how much I hate fixing computer problems :wink:) so I just ordered a NAS enclosure for my house to host remote backups for our PCs. You can never have too many backups.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, '07, 4:10 am 
As a fellow "he fixes computers" guy, I can understand your frustration. I haven't had to deal with anything as bad as a root-kit so far, but I've spent hours at a time working on other people's computers. It can be a a headache to deal with some issues.

I'm glad you've worked out a good compromise with your sister on this. Hopefully it will give her more of an idea of how important it is to safeguard the computer and use reliable sources for DVDs.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, '07, 5:52 pm 
hugues wrote:It turns out Best Buy wants $200 to do the same which is totally insane :down:.


Wow, I knew it would probaby be high but had no idea that BB would cost that high. I agree with you- that is insane. :o I can only imagine how much other places would charge. Still, a lot of people will probably pay it just to get their computer working right again. It means that much to them. Thank heavens for all you "computer fixer guys" who help family and friends out if possible. :proposetoast:

hugues wrote:The only good thing to come out of this.. It reminded me of how bad it sucks to lose important files (and how much I hate fixing computer problems :wink:) so I just ordered a NAS enclosure for my house to host remote backups for our PCs. You can never have too many backups.


A very good tip and advice for anyone who has a computer. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, '07, 9:01 pm 
I hardly ever make backups! I guess I really need to get back on the ball with that. It's just hard to find the time.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, '07, 12:34 am 
This reminds me of my older brother and what he has to put up with to some extent -- he's knowledgeable with computers, so whenever there's any computer problems, people usually go to him for help. Kinda like when my younger brother got several viruses and trojans on my mom's comp... :roll: No matter how many times things are repeated to the kid, it doesn't all register at once.

Anyhow, I guess it's convenient to know someone who's computer smart. As for me, I'd like to think that I know this stuff to some degree, as I know what to avoid, what NOT to do, etc., but here and there I may stumble across some problem.

Still, there's been a few times when someone else would have a small problem and I'd happen to know how to fix it -- kinda cool to help out sometimes, really.

One thing that baffles my mind are the people who wreck their computers and literally have no clue about how it happened; obviously they've done something...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, '07, 8:59 pm 
Lol, My parents don't really know what they're doing, and I'm no good Java person. We leave that all to my older brother-in-law.

His site XD: Some fun stuff in there: http://dubel.org/

Anyway, my parents say its mostly protected if they install just about every expensive security program they can. I tell ya, when a trojan appears on my computer; ALERT ALERT MAY DAY!!!! WARNING DESTROY SELF DESTRUCT!!! lol

This one has been acting strange lately, the sound was temporarily broken and somehow the internet cord fell out, weve got pieces in the tower, and the monitor is in a wierd place. XD

Perhaps you could charge her a modest fee for repairs. XD


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, '07, 3:16 pm 
Yeah I'm super-paranoid about making backups. I have a spindle of cheap DVDs (~20 cents each) that I use to write a weekly backup of important files.

SparkyIII wrote:This one has been acting strange lately, the sound was temporarily broken and somehow the internet cord fell out, weve got pieces in the tower, and the monitor is in a wierd place. XD

Perhaps you could charge her a modest fee for repairs. XD

Ha! I've actually been called for things like that.


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