I had two pc’s given to me last weekend to fix various speed issues. Thankfully I had downloaded the AntiMalwareToolkit from Lunarsoft recently so I did a quick update which meant I had a lot of antivirus and antispyware tools with up to date definitions ready on a cd.
The first machine was pretty straightforward and just needed ad-aware removing and reinstalling to fix ad-aware crashing on bootup. At the same time I scanned for virus and was pleasantly surprised to see none on the machine. The combination of Norton 360, adaware and malwarebytes had done a good job. Norton was crippling the speed of the machine though and I had to disable Norton whilst I ran other diagnostics on the machine as it was just painfully slow whilst running.
The other machine was a whole other story. Norton AV2004 does not do a good job of keeping machines protected when the definitions were last updated in 2005, although I think you’d all agree that no other product would either! Running MalwareBytes detected 400 antivirus files ranging from vundo,trojans, spyware2009 and other infestations. My initial scan was run after booting the machine into safe mode – normal mode was unusable, taking 6 minutes to launch regedit after eventually managing to hit start/run and type in regedit.
The initial scan took over 8 hours to run. Unfortunately I had not cleaned out the temporary internet files on the machine – all 18gb of them! After the first scan completed I selected all the temporary internet files and deleted them. It took about 20 minutes for windows to finish the “preparing to delete” stage. I’m not sure what exactly it is doing, but it is incredibly annoying to hit delete, walk away from the computer and come back 20 minutes later to see it then popup and say “are you sure you want to delete these files?”. I could have deleted the files from a dos prompt but it was taking forever to do anything, so opening a dos prompt and then navigating would have been very painful.
So after 3 hours of deleting files, a reboot I did another scan. This time it took 2 hours. So the moral of the story is to delete temporary internet files first. Interestingly I later ran AdAware and that actually asked me if I wanted to delete these files before it did the scan.
The machine was now fairly responsive…..in safe mode, but still took forever to do anything in normal mode. Scans were coming up clean so the configuration was obviously still screwed up somewhere. I tried to uninstall symantec using their uninstall package but that just hung using no cpu usage so it was a hard reboot and I tried the Norton Removal Tool. The first time it would unpack the self extracting exe but do nothing after that.
At this point I came across a thread in software tips and tricks with the same symptoms of the machine running slowly and the start button being unavailable. This thread was started in 2004 so I was a bit pessimistic about the solution of running a reg cleaner (as most of them are not really worth bothering with). However several people had responded saying that the solution worked, with a couple of posts from Jan 2009 so I figured it was worth a try. I had never heard of the registry cleaner, but I had heard of Jv16 Powertools, so I downloaded RegSupreme and let it do it’s registry cleanup. I looked briefly through the results and could see nothing really unusual so I rebooted and was really surprised that the machine started to respond normally. I was then able to run the Norton Removal Tool and remove Norton from the machine completely.
I haven’t completely finished with the machine yet, but I’m nearly there. You may be wondering why I took so long on this machine. To be truthful, if it was mine I’d have wiped it straight away, but as the issues got harder to fix, my stubbornness and curiosity got the better and I needed to know how to fix the problem and retain the data on the machine. After all, formatting is the easy way out and one day I’ll have a machine that I MUST repair in order to get data and this experience will have given me some helpful experience and preparation for that day.