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  From the March 2016 Issue of Prestwood eMag
Tech Software:
PC Repair: Matching Wits with an Invisible Enemy
Posted 6 years ago on 7/10/2014 and updated 9/16/2018
Take Away:

This article describes one of my PC troubleshooting encounters that required a little more thinking and effort than usual.


I recently had a customer bring me an ailing laptop to look at in my computer repair business. It was running very slow and not acting like a normal computer. On the surface, it appeared this was the work of viruses and spyware. So I commenced with procedures for getting rid of the malware pests.

First, I performed virus and spyware scans. Nothing came up. Next, I ran the Windows 7 “msconfig” utility to see what was loading beneath the “Startup” tab. There was nothing unusual looking with random generated filenames or anything like that. Now I was really beginning to wonder what had invaded this laptop, especially since I had done a full restore on it several weeks earlier.

The only other thing I could think of doing was to disable everything on the “Startup” tab and then gradually re-enable the start up software on a one-by-one basis while restarting Windows 7 each time. It was going to be a tedious and painstaking process, but what else was there to do at this point?        

One thing I had previously noticed was an instant messaging programwas beginning to start up while Windows 7 was initializing, but then it would get stuck. I figured it had to be a corrupted software issue with the instant messaging programor some other application, because the computer had everything disabled on start up and it had 4 gigabytes of memory – decent for Windows 7. I thought the operating system was less likely to be corrupted since I had done a clean reinstallation just a few weeks before. The culprit probably had to be an application program, but what?

After going through the tedious process of re-enabling one start up program after another, I had finally caught the problem. It was an online video and audio communication program. I have seen this communication utility work fine on many other computers before. But something had happened here to corrupt it and this problem was severe enough that it dragged down the entire performance of the laptop. Needless to say, it was removed so the PC could resume normal operation.

"Fix my computer" issues vary from one case to the next. They can be mild and relatively obvious or they can be elusive and seemingly invisible like this was. It takes intuition, creativity, perseverance and experience to fix the more difficult ones.

One thing I have recently noticed is the rise of “online PC repair experts” who claim they can make an ailing PC run much better with their diagnostics and scans. This may be true in some cases, but it certainly can’t work for all PC mishaps. The reason I know this is because I have seen too many cases where the damage to Windows is so severe that the only option left is to pull the hard drive, back up all of the files and folders to be saved and do a clean reinstallation of Windows. The point is the situation dictates the remedy. A “one size fits all solution” simply isn’t pragmatic.


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Article Contributed By Douglas.M:

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