Resurrecting my very woodworking related computer

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Blog entry by Don Butler posted 09-14-2010 02:41 PM 1663 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A few days ago we had a disaster.
NO, I mean a DISASTER.
Well, our house wasn’t destroyed and nobody died, but it was terrible in another sense.
Y’see, the computer I work on, here at my desk, is also the server for our little business LAN. So when my wife innocently opened an email from a good friend, Malware struck hard.
And it was very sneakily malevolent. It changed all the extensions of file names ending with .exe and that halted almost everything. I couldn’t even change the extensions back manually because I couldn’t run Control Panel or Folder Options.
I was stuck. There was little else to do except invoke a System Restore.
Of course, I had the option to save data files and everything that wasn’t an executable. Might as well wipe out all the programs because they were unusable anyway.
It also entailed the necessity of reconfiguring the checkout computer so it could run as a stand-alone station. Normally it sends all transaction data to the server immediately.

Well, as I was reinstalling my programs, Word Perfect, SketchUp, CorelDraw Graphics Suite, and such, I came across a little problem I had never seen before.
I inserted the installation disc for CorelDraw and closed the tray. In normal fashion, it autoran and displayed the opening screen where there were buttons to let me choose which action I wanted to perform.
Naturally, I clicked on the Install button.
The computer did a full shut down and restart.
“Huh!”, I thought, “I must have absent-mindedly pushed the power button instead of the tray close button”, I thought. They are only three inches apart on the tower.
So I did it again, making sure I didn’t press the computer’s power button.
Bang! It did it again.
Stupidly, I tried again, thinking it had to work. But it didn’t work.

And then Corel tech service taught me a trick I didn’t know and I thought it might be a good tip to pass along.
They told me to insert the CD and then close the opening screen.
They said, go back to the desktop and make a New Folder on the desktop.
Using Explorer, I was to find the CD and copy the entire disc to the New Folder.
That took about a half hour. It’s a lot of data.
But then, when all that was finally done, I was told to open the New Folder, which opens a little version of explorer, and find the install.exe file and run it.
Master! It lives!
I renamed the folder CorelDraw Install and moved it to another place on the drive so it wouldn’t take up space on my desktop.
So that’s the story of just one small part of the work I had to do to get my computer back in operation.
I’m sure some of the things I did were kludgey. I never had this experience before in about 25 years of working on and with computers.
My Commodore VIC20 never had a problem like that!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

12 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3921 days

#1 posted 09-14-2010 02:58 PM

It’s a big headache. I’ve had to restore one of my Dells a number of times and I’ve got good security software. I do have a lot of software on my computers though.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4250 days

#2 posted 09-14-2010 02:59 PM

Sorry you got malware, happens to all of us. If you dont have a virus scanner get one. If you have virus scanner but no spyware/malware/adware scanner, get that too. its not the same as a virus scanner. AdAware is a good one and there are a few others. Sometimes its better to do a fresh install of Windows if it hits you badly enough. System Backup and Restore only helps really with main windows OS files and drivers needed (Not software like Corel or other 3rd party software), so unless you are using a true backup like Symantec Ghost or a full disk image software, you probably are still affected somewhere depeneding on what the virus/trojan affected.

Also, just a recommendation, don’t copy entire contents of large data to a folder on your desktop. Instead, create a folder elsewhere on the drive and then create a folder SHORTCUT on the desktop. Otherwise, anytime you load windows or have to refresh the desktop after closing programs it will load slower since it has to load that that large folder too. Maybe one large folder wont cause a slowdown on the desktop, but it only takes one folder to start a habit of putting everything on desktop.

Your Commodore also wasn’t nearly as complex lol.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4450 days

#3 posted 09-14-2010 03:14 PM

Well I thought Microsft Security Essentials would be good enough, but I guess I failed to pay attention to the word ESSENTIALS.
I now have much better antivirus, anti-malware, anti-everything at the cost of some money and a little slower execution, especially when its doing a full system scan.
I did move the folder off the desktop!

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4250 days

#4 posted 09-14-2010 04:57 PM

Yeah microsoft security is ok for virus scanning, but not great. Most virus scanners dont include adware/malware scanners.

A very good Virus scanner WITH malware/spyware that doesn’t bog down the system is is ESET’s. Its won awards for the past few years as best overall scanner that caught viruses others missed. I have it now after dealing with resource hogging ones and am very happy with it.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Kenshu's profile


27 posts in 4423 days

#5 posted 09-14-2010 05:18 PM

This just illustrates the importance of making sure you have good backups of your data. Being that I am backup and recovery administrator I can offer a few tips that might help in the unfortunate case of a true disaster.

To start with only back up your data, not installed programs. If your machine crashes you will need to reinstall all of your applications anyway so you might as well save the space by backing up just the data you need. Some backup solutions can perform image backups which is very handy but undertand that can take up a lot of space.

For a very small business I would strongly recommend looking into the purchase of a windows home server. These little machines are perfect for small businesses to back up their data and are very affordable. You can backup up to 5 machines with one and restoring files is very easy. You also have the added benefit of network storage and ability to access your data over the internet securely.

At the very least I would recommend purchasing an external hard drive to back up your files. And if you want to be truly safe you need to keep a copy of the data “offsite”. Online backup solutions or a second external drive kept at work (or home if your backing up a work computer) are easy solutions.

In the backup world we have a saying – “Think recovery not backup” when you are planning your backups you need to work in reverse and think about what you need to restore in order to get yourself back to where you want to be. One thing you see professional IT people do is to have two hard drives in your computer or laptop. The primary hard drive is for the installation of the operating system and installed programs and the second drive is for storage of your files (pictures, music, documents, etc.). This way if the operating system is corrupted and you have to format the drive, you do not lose any of your precious documents.

I apologize for the long winded reply but I hope this information might help.

-- The second mouse gets the cheese.

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 4179 days

#6 posted 09-14-2010 07:26 PM

I feel very very sorry for you and know full well how long computer work takes when things are RIGHT, let alone trying to retrieve lost data. I was wondering if you had tried to restore your computer to the day before this all happened? Some times it works but I’m not familiar with the destruction of Malware.


View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4450 days

#7 posted 09-14-2010 08:09 PM

I don’t have that option in my system. The choices are: Recovery with data file backup and without. The whole problem came when the filename extensions were altered making all applications useless.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4170 days

#8 posted 09-14-2010 08:56 PM

sorry for your experience
but thank´s for the tip

take care

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3935 days

#9 posted 09-15-2010 03:18 AM

Malware Bytes is a pretty good program and it’s free. Sorry you got the ‘bug’!

FWI for those who don’t know: The data you want to back up is usually located in three places. If you right click on the start button and ‘explore’ you will have a menu structure open up. In there you will find Favorites (your iNet links), Desktop (anything on the desktop), MyDocuments, or just Documents (where docs are usually stored) If there are more than one user they’ll have them too. All that the other stuff is (folders) are programs and files that make the computer go. If you are erasing the drive, or not, you’ll want to save your data anyway. A ‘Recovery’ will restore the cpu to an earlier time. Your data may not have existed then.

Right click (RC) on each and COPY them – don’t ‘drag’ them – to a flash drive (or CD or floppy?). You may have to RC and copy them one at a time? The reason you copy them is because if you drag them, you run the risk of merely saving ‘shortcuts’, then when you reinstall your software, you have shortcuts that go nowhere. You can tell what a shortcut is because it has a small curved arrow on the icon. They’re usually on your desktop pointing to programs etc.

Eject the flash drive or disk and then you can reinstall your programs. As everyone knows, (or should?) it’s a good idea to backup early and often and more than one copy.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4170 days

#10 posted 09-15-2010 09:51 AM

an ad to Ron peters comment

don´t forget to copy folders with your pictures
and your E-mail adresse list and the letters

and if you have download small help programs from the net you wont llieve behind
hopefully you allready had them stored in one folder

take care

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 4119 days

#11 posted 09-15-2010 11:56 AM

Microsft Security Essentials sucks. As far as to using ghost. I would only use it for making a image of the os only. The other software is easier to reinstall than the whole thing. I use Adware that I purchased, it has a virus scanner also. The one that you get for free, doesn’t go that deep into the system at all. When using system restore, all data in your doc folder will be saved. I would go as far as keeping important files on a seperate hard drive. i use a external docking station to do that. Some malware will embed itself in the core of the os. When you do a sys restore, the malware will replacte itself. If this is happening you don’t have much choice other than to do a full system reload. If you do that. Do not use the quick reformat it doesn’t go deep enough into the hard drive, you need to do the otherone. Or I find that the best way to do that is to remove the partition then rebuild it from there. If you do that I would disconnect anyother drives that you have in your system also. If you leave them hooked to your system, when you do the reload the os creats the start up boot record on another drive. That can creat a problem sometimes. Good luck. If you want you can pm me and I will do my best to help you out. Not to brag, I have been working on systems for over 30 years, including building them also.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4219 days

#12 posted 09-15-2010 05:03 PM

If available, use your ISP to filter your email. Costs a little extra, but is worth it. My ISP gets rid of the junk, malware, and viruses quite well, so not much reaches the computer. Then I have my wife trained to never click on any attachment that she hasn’t requested, or just to call me first. She has a full Norton Security setup on her computer. Three of mine have AVG. This computer only has MS stuff, an experiment. At this moment I have five computers running. None of my computers has ever had a virus or malware on it.

All these computers are running because I am making sure they all get updated with MS’s released updates from yesterday. My main computer backs up every day. I get ZDNET newletters that keep me up with tech things, an old interest of mine, and I also get the MS Bulletins regarding updates.

It sounds like your wife may have run into one of those very tricky things that only require opening an email. I don’t even run a preview screen on Outlook.

I don’t have anything to add to the gurus that have commented before me. I am computer savy, but definitely not a professional or a guru…......(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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