Saturday, March 8, 2014

Microsoft ends support for XP

After 12 years Microsoft ends support for XP on April 8. What does this mean for the 20+ percent of windows users that still have XP on their machine? Well, when they wake up on the 9th Windows XP will operate exactly as before except for a monthly warning that the operating system is no longer supported. Most windows updates for XP are now security patches. If the bad guys find an exploit then Microsoft will not release a new patch to overcome the problem, allowing the computer to possibly get viruses. New software except for a few special instances should still support XP. Apps developed for the Windows 8.1 Metro interface certainly wont work but those programs will not work in Vista/Windows 7 either. Device makers (such as printers) may decide to stop producing drivers for XP. The fact is that if you have a computer with XP on it, the computer is most likely 7 years old or older. This is probably enough reason to update. Given that Microsoft is going to improve Windows 8.1 with a new release, this should make the changeover a lot easier.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Computer Freezes or Crashes when playing Facebook games or Playing You Tube Videos

A clients computer kept freezing when playing facebook games. When I realised that these games used flash I realised that I had seen something similar with Youtube videos on some computers. The problem is when flash is setup to use hardware acceleration. This is not compatible with some graphics cards. this can sometimes be solved with using the latest version of flash and updating the graphics drivers to the latest version. If this still doesn't work you can right click on the game/video which brings up the flash context menu. Select settings and the following screen will appear. Deselect the tick next to "Enable Hardware acceleration" which should stop the crashing.

Note that with most modern computers there will not be any noticable reduction in performance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AFP Virus - Taskbar not appearing after clean

A virus with the same visual style can be very different under the hood. A client had the AFP virus which shows the typical white screen with black writing warning the user that they will be turned over to the Australian Federal Police unless the pay usually $100 via UKASH.

They delivered the computer last Saturday afternoon and I thought I could clean the machine in an hour as I normally do. The computer gave me access via Safe Mode and I tried to run Combofix (I downloaded it on another computer). Unfortunately Combofix froze and then I tried Malware Bytes which didn't pick up any issues.

I then manually cleaned the machine. I used msconfig to identify the virus components. I unclicked them and then went to the folders and removed the files.

As it was an XP machine I looked for files in "Program Files" and in the settings area in "c:\programs and settings\\local\application settings".

These viruses also usually install a driver so I started up device manager and clicked on "Show Hidden Devices" and in the non-plug and play section I recognised the virus driver and removed it.

This allowed me to start the computer normally except the taskbar did not come up. This is usually a problem with explorer. After trying a few things I went in the registry and noticed that the setting:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon/Shell

had cmd.exe instead of explorer.exe. I fixed this setting and the computer booted normally. As for Combofix, I think that it froze because the client had 3 anti-virus programs running simultaneously.