Left to my own devices

I missed the good old days when I could turn to someone for my PC woes. Help was only a phone call or 1-minute walk away; waiting time no more than 30-minutes, enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and some office gossip; problem solved and back to the desk with everything working fine again.

Life’s so different when you’re out of corporate. Face it! You’re on your own now, someone reminded me.

Well I managed somehow. So far so good, No major setbacks with my computer for a long time except last weekend. My IT bliss came to an abrupt end.

First I tried to download a video from youtube. My son taught me how to do it before and it was relatively straight-forward except I can’t remember how.

I could have asked him again but pride got in the way. So I checked the net for answers. Found one – just download the free software ClipGrab, simply drag and drop the video you want. Easy!

It actually works. What a wonderful free-software world we live in, I thought and didn’t hear the alarm bells ringing.

Lurking deep in the crevices of my C drive, a malicious code was seeded and it was slowing my PC almost to a halt. The old restart trick didn’t work. Can’t even use my browser to search for answers.

Turning to my faithful LG Optimus phone, I googled for “why is my PC so slow?” 200 million results. Try again “why is my PC so slow all of a sudden” 950,000 results. Trawled pages of answers, mostly from IT forums and you get the idea. It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack.

Suddenly a flicker of excitement lit up. I felt a challenge in looking for the bug. It was as thrilling as hunting in hot pursuit for a prey.

So I journeyed all alone on my own devices, switching from phone to PC from site to site. Lots of trial and error while learning new things and regaining old knowledge of software and operating systems. It was rather intriguing and enjoyable to fiddle around inside box.

Finally after an entire Saturday spent in front of my PC, I managed to remove the unwanted code and all its tendrils, clean up the disk and bring the PC back to a faster working state.

IT bliss is back.

If you’re interested to know the technical details, read on.

ClipGrab is a free public-licensed software for downloading videos from popular websites like YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion or Metacafe. It also provides the possibility to convert the downloaded files to other file formats like MP3, MPEG4, OGG Theora or WMV. Its website http://clipgrab.org/ invites donations to a Philipp Schmieder Medien of Germany.

Many free software houses can’t survive on donations alone and to defray the cost of development and maintenance of free software, the developer could integrate Adware or advertising-supported software as a package. So when we download free software, it is possible we also download the Adware. Sometimes rated as a virus or malware (malicious software), Adware mostly presents unwanted advertisements and takes up processing resources, thus slowing down the system.

In my case, the ClipGrab must have come with something called the Conduit Toolbar which hijacked my browser and replaced my default search engine. Google search for Conduit will result mostly in ways to remove or uninstall Conduit from your computer. But even if you uninstall it, part of it remains in your PC hidden away in another folder in an unrelated name and as an extension which automatically starts up and uses high processing capacity. That’s the reason for my PC slowing down.

After searching for ways to eradicate the unwanted adware, I finally settled for CCleaner (Crap Cleaner) which is a special utility to clean up unwanted files and extensions. CCleaner is developed by UK-based privately-owned software house Piriform http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner. Rated 4.5 by CNet, CCleaner is the best tool any home PC user should have.

JY

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2 thoughts on “Left to my own devices

  1. use ccleaner for ages, downloaded by my friend when i pass my laptop to him for some software to be added in. works really good n i do the occasional drive wiper found in the tools department…registry also has its clean-up occasionally, especially when u hv auto update from microsoft….very helpful indeed. Ad-aware was the 1st programme that caught my eye while reading probably the Time mag. eyons ago, which work well removing adware n all the stuffs that slows the pc down. but few years back it kind of slowed down my pc n so gave it up, though still running on my other pc…basically relying on my antivirus which has been working very well..Norman..yes Norman.
    a good learning process for you i am sure…..always trial n error and importantly – being curious!

    have a nice w/e…ta

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