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Old 12-06-2016, 09:29 PM   #1
Ronald
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Default How to Wipe Laptop Clean Before Installing CS5

I finally bit the bullet and purchased Adobe CS5.5. I didn't want to pay high subscription fees and I figure I should get several years out of it before needing to upgrade (PDFs and JPEGs won't die out anytime soon, right?). But my laptop is in desperate need of being "wiped" before I make the big installation; I can barely use a browser without tons of pop-ups and page redirects.

I know Best Buy offers this service, but can I just as easily do this on my own? I at least am aware that I'll have to back up my important files and reinstall Windows 7, but perhaps I'm missing something important. I found a few articles explaining how to do it, but as someone who uses design/art software, I wanted to hear from someone directly on the safest approach.
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Old 12-07-2016, 08:06 AM   #2
Steve Rindsberg
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Before bringing the nuclear option to bear on it, I'd try a few rounds of small-arms fire first.

Sounds like you've got malware; you might try running some of the available free anti-malware software on it. [This is Terrie's cue to jump in with detailed recommendations; she's got the drill down, so pay close attention.]

Once you've rid the PC of the trashware, you can make a better judgement of whether it really needs a wipe 'n reload or not.

If so, you'll need to make sure you have readable recovery media before you start. Not many PCs come with Windows DVDs nowadays; some of them provide a way of creating your own. If yours did, did you? If not, it'd be wise (and since this stuff usually comes from a separate recovery partition, it's likely to be free of malware).

No matter what you decide to do, a backup is always a good idea.

If you do decide to reinstall Win7 from scratch, you may find (as I just did) that the update service is broken. Lots of folks find that when they tell the new install to check for updates, it goes looking. And looks and looks and looks but never finds.

If you run into that situation, you can either spend a day or three reading web sites and trying dozens of complicated "fixes" that may or may not help at all, or go here:

http://download.wsusoffline.net/

It's a little intimidating looking (scroll past the German to find English), but [TERRIE! ARE YOU READING THIS??] after you choose the version of Windows you have, it goes online, downloads most if not all the available updates to a folder on your PC, a USB drive or external HDD, along with an app that installs the updates. You carry the files to the computer you want to update, run another program and it installs all the updates, pretty much unattended, rebooting as needed. Both operations take quite a while but don't need you to babysit them. This little gem sorted out a new Win7 install for me very efficiently, and after it'd done its work, the PC could then pull down its own updates. I'm VERY impressed.

   
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Old 12-07-2016, 02:04 PM   #3
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In addition to Steve' suggestions the following info may prove useful--list order is significant:

1. Download the free version of Malwarebytes Antimalware (scroll down the page and click on the "free download" on the left side). Install it and run a deep scan which should find most if not all of any malware and crapware on your system and help you to get rid of it.


2. Download Autoruns (it's free) and install it. Then take a close look at the "Logon" tab to see what's being loaded on boot--it's amazing the amount of useless crap that is loaded on boot. For likely candidates to be UNchecked in Autoruns, be cautious and just uncheck one thing and then reboot to make sure things work ok, open Autoruns again and then uncheck the next likely candidate, reboot and repeat as necessary. The reason I suggest looking and using the "Logon" tab rather than the "Everything" tab is that one can inadvertently uncheck something thinking it's in the "Logon" section when it's not so don't uncheck on the "Everything" tab.

Also take a look at the "Scheduled Tasks" tab as there can be a fair number of phone-home-behind-your-back type of tasks. Take great care in unchecking things of the "Scheduled Tasks" tab.


3. Which antivirus software are you using? I use Avast Free antivirus (this link has the FULL offline version). Note that you need to carefully read the installation screens, you want to make sure you use the custom install option and make sure to UNcheck any extra software "goodies" which is usually in a smaller font. Once you have chosen the "custom install" options, you will see a list of components for Avast. I would suggest you install only the "File System Shield" and the "Web Shield" components and UNcheck all other components offered--a custom install allows you to pick and choose the components.

Once you've gotten Avast Free installed, open it and via Settings > Update > Program section, "Settings", choose "manual" update. This will allow you to control when the Avast Free software itself is updated rather than setting it to "automatic". Note that the "Virus Definitions" settings will be by default, set to "automatic" and I leave it set to "automatic" as I want the antivirus definitions updated automatically.

Note that I use an older version (7.0.1474) of Avast Free because there were problems with some of the versions released after 7.0.1474 with not being able to get online if the "Web Shield" was active. That is no longer and issue but I continue to use 7.0.1474 because it works. You can dowload Avast Free 7.0.1474 from oldapps.com


Once you've MBAM'd, Autorun'd and antivirus scanned your system see if that doesn't help with any slowness.


As Steve noted, Microsoft has royally mucked with Windows 7 updating. If you do a clean install and want to get updates (personally, I wouldn't if I were you), there was a recent discussion (among many) at dslreports about getting the Win7 update process to work more smoothly and quickly (here's the link if you want to read it directly:
https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r31...-New-one-on-me) and I've extracted the steps and found the appropriate download links:

1. Go in to Control Panel > Windows Update > Change Settings and change the Updates settings to NEVER DO UPDATES, OK out.

2. Reboot.

3. Download KB3020369 via https://www.catalog.update.microsoft...px?q=KB3020369 and install it--KB3020369 must be installed before KB3172605

4. Download KB3172605 via https://www.catalog.update.microsoft...px?q=KB3172605 and install it.

5. Reboot

6. Go into Control Panel > Windows Update > Change Settings and change the setting back to Automatic.

7. Reboot.

7. Within minutes you should see a pile of updates downloading.

Note: Microsoft has finally fixed their update catalog so that it can be used in any browser. Use the following url and plug in the needed KB-number in the search window: https://www.catalog.update.microsoft...px?q=KB3172605



Terrie

Last edited by terrie; 12-07-2016 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:06 AM   #4
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FWIW, after downloading the suggested MS fixes according to their instrux, they declined to run. No idea why (other than maybe "Because Microsoft"). IAC the WSUS offline thing worked like a champ.

Now I can move on to getting Office 365 to turn itself into an Insider version, which looks like it's gonna involve nuking the damn PC and starting over from scratch. Let's hear it for VMs.

   
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Old 12-08-2016, 12:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
steve: after downloading the suggested MS fixes according to their instrux, they declined to run.
Are you talking about d/l'ing KB3020369 and KB3172605 that I ref'd in my post?

While I've not done any Windows Updates since this system was custom built in September 2015, I did download both those KB's the other day when testing the instructions I'd picked up from 2 different dslreports threads (one ref'd the actual KB's and the other had the catalog.update.microsoft link). I did not try to install them.

I got sidetracked and haven't had a chance to take a look at WSUS offline but I hope to do that later today...



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Old 12-09-2016, 12:52 AM   #6
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Steve and Terrie, thanks so much for the comprehensive responses you've provided me. I'm very grateful for the lengths you go to lend a hand.

So to summarize, you both advise against wiping my computer because Windows 7 won't likely update, and to follow the directions in Terrie's initial post on how to remove malware.

Just to be clear, I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium, Version 6.1 Copyright 2009. I have a Dell XPS laptop I purchased brand new in 2011 with the intention of using it for graphic design, but that never happened as I used the office computer at my former employer's. Other than web surfing and storing 100GB of photos and videos, I haven't done much with my laptop over the last five years. All I use for anti-virus software is Microsoft Security Essentials, which is oblivious to the constant pop-ups and page redirects I endure surfing the web.
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Old 12-09-2016, 07:31 AM   #7
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> Are you talking about d/l'ing KB3020369 and KB3172605 that I ref'd in my post?

I don't really recall. Ya download the stuff on somebody's sayso, it fails to work, you delete it (from HDD. from ORAM).

   
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Old 12-09-2016, 07:34 AM   #8
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>> So to summarize, you both advise against wiping my computer because Windows 7 won't likely update, and to follow the directions in Terrie's initial post on how to remove malware.

I'd say more like: Advise against wiping the computer because it can turn into a huge undertaking but mainly because Terrie's suggestions won't take that long, come with less risk and might just sort everything out for you.

A different browser or even an updated version of what you have now might be able to help with the pop-ups. Page redirects could be a symptom of malware, which Terrie's steps will probably eliminate.

   
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Old 12-12-2016, 06:20 PM   #9
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Well, I used the software as you suggested and the pop-ups/redirects didn't stop. I did another scan based on an article's suggestion (same software, just an additional scan type) and quarantined a ton of stuff, which then led to my Internet access stopping (I'm using someone else's computer to type this). I then tried to unquarantine and now a window keeps popping up saying that SearchProtect/bin/VC64Loader.dll is "not designed to run on Windows or contains errors." It says to "Try installing again using original installation media." The pop-up goes back and forth citing VC64 and VC32.
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