This weekend, I went down to my in-laws’ to install a wireless network. While installing a USB wireless adapter to a PC, I noticed that it was running slowly and had a lot of extra programs on it. There was a particularly suspicious registry run entry that had a lot of random looking consonants. After I deleted the entry, it came right back. So, with the wireless card fully installed, I set out trying to clean it up.
First, I ran an anti-spyware program (Ad Aware), which identified 706 objects (probably mostly cookies, you know how AdAware is), but stopped running while trying to delete the items it found. So, I installed and ran AVG anti-virus, which was partway through its scan (it found at least 19 viruses) when the computer crashed. It gave an error to the effect of “Unable to read from disk”. When I tried to reboot, it was unable to read anything from the hard drive.
The good news is that the viruses and spyware are gone, and instead of having hundreds of problems, her system has just one. The bad news is that her hard drive, including all of its data, is gone. We have plans to replace it and upgrade from Win98 to WinXP. This time, I’ll make sure that she has some better virus protection during the OS installation, as well as more secure browsers and such, so that she won’t be as likely to be infected again.
By the way, I usually don’t do nuke-n-loads by frying the harddrive.