Win 7 "BlueScreen" crashes

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Howard Davis    3
4 hours ago, Jim K said:

Yea...don't go to that website again. Probably just some JavaScript (or whatever)... though it wouldn't hurt to do a scan (Malwarebytes or whatever).  

Also, no matter what, never call some random number that pops up.  Scam.

I did an in-depth McAfee LifeSave scan and all is OK - computer safe, have latest protection, all apps up to date.

This did happen once before, some time ago. It was probably the website.

I use Acronis for automatic backup to an external hard drive.

 

Looks like I can live with this computer as-is until it's time for a new one.

Thanks to all that have offered advice here. You're a great group!

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+DevTech    746

You phoned a number that obviously popped up from one of the many fake "security alert" scams which by itself is an issue of concern with the user of the computer. 

 

You are describing many of the symptoms of a virus infection. Your computer is seriously screwed up in a fundamentally deep way yet you do not perceive it.

 

I strongly suggest you do not use this computer for any financial transactions and remove any passwords or logins that can lead to personal identity theft.

 

The safest way to secure your PC without losing any settings would be to proceed with the free upgrade to Windows 10 64 bit which will keep all your apps and settings but re-image your O/S/ layout which will remove all rootkits. You should completely uninstall and remove all traces of McAfee first.

 

If that does not seem possible, you need to uninstall McAfee and install something else that can detect a rootkit. It is not easy at all to develop any confidence that you have eliminated a rootkit since they detect popular Anti Virus programs and trick them into thinking there is no virus. Rootkits have a hard time rooting themselves into Windows 10 64 bit, hence the suggestion.

 

It is possible that your very weird list of issues are something else, but it would be irresponsible to suggest all is fine and not to see some of the typical symptoms of a compromised computer.

 

 

 

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Howard Davis    3
11 hours ago, DevTech said:

You phoned a number that obviously popped up from one of the many fake "security alert" scams which by itself is an issue of concern with the user of the computer. 

 

You are describing many of the symptoms of a virus infection. Your computer is seriously screwed up in a fundamentally deep way yet you do not perceive it.

 

I strongly suggest you do not use this computer for any financial transactions and remove any passwords or logins that can lead to personal identity theft.

 

The safest way to secure your PC without losing any settings would be to proceed with the free upgrade to Windows 10 64 bit which will keep all your apps and settings but re-image your O/S/ layout which will remove all rootkits. You should completely uninstall and remove all traces of McAfee first.

 

If that does not seem possible, you need to uninstall McAfee and install something else that can detect a rootkit. It is not easy at all to develop any confidence that you have eliminated a rootkit since they detect popular Anti Virus programs and trick them into thinking there is no virus. Rootkits have a hard time rooting themselves into Windows 10 64 bit, hence the suggestion.

 

It is possible that your very weird list of issues are something else, but it would be irresponsible to suggest all is fine and not to see some of the typical symptoms of a compromised computer.

 

 

 

Thanks for the warning. As I said, I did do an in-depth McAfee scan and no malware was found. The computer shut down automatically after the scan, but when I booted up again I got a notice of an abnormal shutdown. All seemed OK afterwards though.

 

I do no online banking. The only thing I do that could result in compromising my security, if spyware is present, is purchases from Amazon.com and rent, electric, and phone bill payments. They have my credit card/bank info of course, but I do not have to re-enter it for every purchase or payment. I get plenty of phishing scam SPAM and always ignore it.

 

I am reluctant to go to Windows 10. I've been told doing that in itself could create vulnerabilities, and it would certainly be very risky to do this after uninstalling McAfee and thus having no protection at all. Is there any way of detecting and removing a "rootkit" or other malware that McAfee LifeSave misses without disabling the protection it does offer? Is there any more effective protection than McAfee I could get?

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+DevTech    746
1 hour ago, Howard Davis said:

Thanks for the warning. As I said, I did do an in-depth McAfee scan and no malware was found. The computer shut down automatically after the scan, but when I booted up again I got a notice of an abnormal shutdown. All seemed OK afterwards though.

 

I do no online banking. The only thing I do that could result in compromising my security, if spyware is present, is purchases from Amazon.com and rent, electric, and phone bill payments. They have my credit card/bank info of course, but I do not have to re-enter it for every purchase or payment. I get plenty of phishing scam SPAM and always ignore it.

 

I am reluctant to go to Windows 10. I've been told doing that in itself could create vulnerabilities, and it would certainly be very risky to do this after uninstalling McAfee and thus having no protection at all. Is there any way of detecting and removing a "rootkit" or other malware that McAfee LifeSave misses without disabling the protection it does offer? Is there any more effective protection than McAfee I could get?

 

1. "Thanks for the warning. As I said, I did do an in-depth McAfee scan and no malware was found. The computer shut down automatically after the scan, but when I booted up again I got a notice of an abnormal shutdown. All seemed OK afterwards though."

 

So, that's NOT OK.

 

2. "I do no online banking. The only thing I do that could result in compromising my security, if spyware is present, is purchases from Amazon.com and rent, electric, and phone bill payments. They have my credit card/bank info of course, but I do not have to re-enter it for every purchase or payment. I get plenty of phishing scam SPAM and always ignore it."

 

It is NOT normal to get " plenty of phishing scam SPAM "

 

Prime Identity Theft candidate - "They have my credit card/bank info of course"

 

3. "I am reluctant to go to Windows 10. I've been told doing that in itself could create vulnerabilities"

 

You are getting absolutely horrid and incorrect advice from someone. If that person is a friend or family member you should nod and smile at them every time they open their mouth, perhaps say "That's Nice" and then promptly forget everything they say with complete and total erasure from your memory banks.  Windows 10 64 bit is extremely secure.

 

4. " thus having no protection at all"

 

Windows 10 has a built-in Anti-Virus program which can be replaced after installation or simply used in day-to-day use. The performance of the built-in Windows 10 Anti-Virus usually is in the "middle of the pack" but is probably superior to McAfee.  In your case, you can connect safely to the internet to get Windows updates but should probably not use the internet in whatever manner you normally do, until you upgrade to the highest ranking Anti-Virus software at av-comparatives.org https://www.av-comparatives.org/

 

5. "Is there any more effective protection than McAfee I could get?"

 

The performance of Anti-Virus programs changes in relation to each other every year!

 

In the "FREE" category, Avira and Avast traditionally and consistently perform near the top every year. Sometimes a "PAID" product can beat those two and may be worth the cost. But the short answer to that question is "Hell YES"

 

6. "Is there any way of detecting and removing a "rootkit" or other malware that McAfee LifeSave misses without disabling the protection it does offer? "

 

Your computer has suspicious symptoms of a Rootkit. Those symptoms may also be caused by faulty hardware or completely messed up configuration, perhaps based on the insane advice of your "friend".

 

The problem is that once you suspect a Rootkit is is very hard to ever be confident that you have eliminated the rootkit without a complete O/S re-install. That's why I suggested the Windows 10 upgrade because it is simply the most painless way ever invented to re-install an O/S while keeping all your information. If the Rootkit exists, it may cause the upgrade to fail so you should backup everything you want to save just in case if you decide to proceed.

 

Modern Rootkits are sophisticated creatures with the ability to detect and trick a large database of known Anti-Virus programs, so anything you run while the Rootkit is running will most likely fail. And how would you ever know really if it failed or succeeded? The only way to do a scan that avoids the Rootkit's "active trickery" is to make a boot disk on a "known good" computer and boot from that disk to scan your computer. The boot disk image should be from a well known Anti-Virus maker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Howard Davis    3
3 hours ago, DevTech said:

1. "Thanks for the warning. As I said, I did do an in-depth McAfee scan and no malware was found. The computer shut down automatically after the scan, but when I booted up again I got a notice of an abnormal shutdown. All seemed OK afterwards though."

 

So, that's NOT OK.

-----

But it is no proof of the presence of malware, is it?

I'm now running another scan and will be here when it ends. No automatic shutdown this time.

-----

 

2. "I do no online banking. The only thing I do that could result in compromising my security, if spyware is present, is purchases from Amazon.com and rent, electric, and phone bill payments. They have my credit card/bank info of course, but I do not have to re-enter it for every purchase or payment. I get plenty of phishing scam SPAM and always ignore it."

 

It is NOT normal to get " plenty of phishing scam SPAM "

-----

Perhaps 1 to 6 such SPAMs come in each day. This has always been the case.

-----

 

Prime Identity Theft candidate - "They have my credit card/bank info of course"

-----

How can one buy or pay bills online without divulging this information? I always check for the "https" in the URL.

-----

 

3. "I am reluctant to go to Windows 10. I've been told doing that in itself could create vulnerabilities"

 

You are getting absolutely horrid and incorrect advice from someone. If that person is a friend or family member you should nod and smile at them every time they open their mouth, perhaps say "That's Nice" and then promptly forget everything they say with complete and total erasure from your memory banks.  Windows 10 64 bit is extremely secure.

-----

My friend is a computer tech, but her depth of knowledge is very suspect.

-----

 

4. " thus having no protection at all"

 

Windows 10 has a built-in Anti-Virus program which can be replaced after installation or simply used in day-to-day use. The performance of the built-in Windows 10 Anti-Virus usually is in the "middle of the pack" but is probably superior to McAfee.  In your case, you can connect safely to the internet to get Windows updates but should probably not use the internet in whatever manner you normally do, until you upgrade to the highest ranking Anti-Virus software at av-comparatives.org https://www.av-comparatives.org/

 

5. "Is there any more effective protection than McAfee I could get?"

 

The performance of Anti-Virus programs changes in relation to each other every year!

 

In the "FREE" category, Avira and Avast traditionally and consistently perform near the top every year. Sometimes a "PAID" product can beat those two and may be worth the cost. But the short answer to that question is "Hell YES"

-----

I had Avast at one time and may go back to it.

-----

 

6. "Is there any way of detecting and removing a "rootkit" or other malware that McAfee LifeSave misses without disabling the protection it does offer? "

 

Your computer has suspicious symptoms of a Rootkit. Those symptoms may also be caused by faulty hardware or completely messed up configuration, perhaps based on the insane advice of your "friend".

-----

I never try to change any system files.

-----

 

The problem is that once you suspect a Rootkit is is very hard to ever be confident that you have eliminated the rootkit without a complete O/S re-install. That's why I suggested the Windows 10 upgrade because it is simply the most painless way ever invented to re-install an O/S while keeping all your information. If the Rootkit exists, it may cause the upgrade to fail so you should backup everything you want to save just in case if you decide to proceed.

-----

And if the Win 10 upgrade fails I have to go back to Win 7 or 8, which may not be available, and then be without an OS until that is done if I can even do it?  Too risky! I have no backup computer and need it daily for business. For this purpose, it works. I do not consider anything, even PGP encryption, 100% secure and risk-free.

-----

Modern Rootkits are sophisticated creatures with the ability to detect and trick a large database of known Anti-Virus programs, so anything you run while the Rootkit is running will most likely fail. And how would you ever know really if it failed or succeeded? The only way to do a scan that avoids the Rootkit's "active trickery" is to make a boot disk on a "known good" computer and boot from that disk to scan your computer. The boot disk image should be from a well known Anti-Virus maker.

-----

I have an Acronis boot on a flash drive, but have never used it. As I said, I must be very wary of doing anything that could render my now usable computer no longer usable.

-----

 

Thank you so much for your expert advice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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+DevTech    746

"But it is no proof of the presence of malware, is it?"

 

Yes. No proof. Proof is really hard. "Absence of Proof is not Proof of Absence" and hence the entire world is not 100% Athiest.

 

"I'm now running another scan and will be here when it ends"

 

That's better but boot a scan disk from a reputable Anti-Virus vendor. The scan won't take any longer and will sure be 1,000 times more reliable.

 

"Perhaps 1 to 6 such SPAMs come in each day. This has always been the case"

 

I get ZERO per day. I suspect most people here at Neowin see ZERO per day.

 

"How can one buy or pay bills online without divulging this information? I always check for the "https" in the URL."

 

You walk to a bank until you have access to a sufficiently secure computer. HTTPS has no usefulness to the vast majority of people. It simply prevents a "man in the middle attack" where your information could be intercepted while hopping across the internet between your computer and your bank's computer. Very few "man in the middle" exploits are ever used in the real world. If your computer has malicious software hiding on it then it is an "open book"

 

"My friend is a computer tech, but her depth of knowledge is very suspect."

 

Change "very suspect" to "so dangerously wrong, it hurts" and we have an accuracy improvement.

 

"I had Avast at one time and may go back to it."

 

Just do it.

 

"I never try to change any system files."

 

Good. Now open a command prompt as an Administrator and type "sfc /scannow" without those quotes and hit the enter key. That will tell you if any system files have been changed.

 

"I must be very wary of doing anything that could render my now usable computer no longer usable"

 

Your computer of course. Subjective. My own subjectivity says that I would NOT use your computer or consider it even remotely in the "usable" category.

 

I can't imagine how there is any risk from downloading Windows 10 from Microsoft, wiping your hard drive clean and installing a clean perfect copy of Windows 10. The whole process takes about 30 minutes from start to finish on a modern computer.

 

The only "risk" was the "easy" route failing due to a war with the virus where it does an "upgrade" to keep all your settings and it dies in the middle. If that happens, you boot from your previously prepared Windows 10 boot disk, wipe the hard drive and say good-bye to crappy security.

 

Also, you should probably run the Prime95 torture test overnight to ensure your hardware is not flaky.

 

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Howard Davis    3
15 hours ago, DevTech said:

"But it is no proof of the presence of malware, is it?"

 

Yes. No proof. Proof is really hard. "Absence of Proof is not Proof of Absence" and hence the entire world is not 100% Athiest.

 

"I'm now running another scan and will be here when it ends"

 

That's better but boot a scan disk from a reputable Anti-Virus vendor. The scan won't take any longer and will sure be 1,000 times more reliable.

-----

The McAfee scan came up clean, but of course that's no proof of absence.

"Boot a scan disk" means exactly what?  I don't know how to go about this.

-----

 

"Perhaps 1 to 6 such SPAMs come in each day. This has always been the case"

 

I get ZERO per day. I suspect most people here at Neowin see ZERO per day.

-----

My website gives my email address, so it is public domain.

-----

 

"How can one buy or pay bills online without divulging this information? I always check for the "https" in the URL."

 

You walk to a bank until you have access to a sufficiently secure computer. HTTPS has no usefulness to the vast majority of people. It simply prevents a "man in the middle attack" where your information could be intercepted while hopping across the internet between your computer and your bank's computer. Very few "man in the middle" exploits are ever used in the real world. If your computer has malicious software hiding on it then it is an "open book"

-----

All risk cannot be eliminated, I suppose. As I said, I do no online banking.

-----

 

15 hours ago, DevTech said:

"My friend is a computer tech, but her depth of knowledge is very suspect."

 

Change "very suspect" to "so dangerously wrong, it hurts" and we have an accuracy improvement.

-----

Yes, I must agree you are right.

-----

"I had Avast at one time and may go back to it."

 

Just do it.

 

"I never try to change any system files."

 

Good. Now open a command prompt as an Administrator and type "sfc /scannow" without those quotes and hit the enter key. That will tell you if any system files have been changed.

-----

Will do.

-----

"I must be very wary of doing anything that could render my now usable computer no longer usable"

 

Your computer of course. Subjective. My own subjectivity says that I would NOT use your computer or consider it even remotely in the "usable" category.

-----

You certainly have high standards, which I suppose is good - especially when you have such expertise. I suspect that in the real world most computers are probably compromised.

-----

 

I can't imagine how there is any risk from downloading Windows 10 from Microsoft, wiping your hard drive clean and installing a clean perfect copy of Windows 10. The whole process takes about 30 minutes from start to finish on a modern computer.

-----

"Wiping my hard drive clean?"  I wouldn't dare try it. There goes all my programs, files, - - - .  I do have Acronis backup but might be at a loss as to using it.

-----

 

The only "risk" was the "easy" route failing due to a war with the virus where it does an "upgrade" to keep all your settings and it dies in the middle. If that happens, you boot from your previously prepared Windows 10 boot disk, wipe the hard drive and say good-bye to crappy security.

----

You speak of "wiping the hard drive" and "boot disks" from the viewpoint of an expert experienced in doing these things. I am not a novice computer user, but I am not at your level of expertise and experience - which I greatly respect. I fear not just the loss of my data but the ability to conduct daily business with the computer. My business does not require a high level of security.

 

Also, you should probably run the Prime95 torture test overnight to ensure your hardware is not flaky.

-----

Never heard of this.

-----

Could doing a SYSTEM RESTORE fix the problem?

I have a disk I received with the computer - "Reinstallation DVD Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64 bit." Could reinstalling the OS from this disk resolve the problem? How could I recover the subsequent updates? Could this reinstallation cause any loss of data or issues I do not already have?

15 hours ago, DevTech said:

 

 

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Howard Davis    3

I ran "sfc scannow" as advised and the result was "found no integrity violations."

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+DevTech    746

The file you want:

 

http://www.mersenne.org/ftp_root/gimps/p95v2810.win64.zip

 

https://www.mersenne.org/download/

 

Quote

 

CPU Stress / Torture Testing

 

Prime95 has been a popular choice for stress / torture testing a CPU since it's introduction, especially with overclockers and system builders. Since the software makes heavy use of the processor's integer and floating point instructions, it feeds the processor a consistent and verifiable workload to test the stability of the CPU and the L1/L2/L3 processor cache. Additionally, it uses all of the cores of a multi-CPU / multi-core system to ensure a high-load stress test environment.

 

 

Today's computers are not perfect. Even brand new systems from major manufacturers can have hidden flaws. If any of several key components such as CPU, memory, cooling, etc. are not up to spec, it can lead to incorrect calculations and/or unexplained system crashes.

 

Overclocking is the practice of increasing the speed of the CPU and/or memory to make a machine faster at little cost. Typically, overclocking involves pushing a machine past its limits and then backing off just a little bit.

For these reasons, both non-overclockers and overclockers need programs that test the stability of their computers. This is done by running programs that put a heavy load on the computer. Though not originally designed for this purpose, this program is one of a few programs that are excellent at stress testing a computer.

 

The Prime95 Wikipedia page has an excellent overview on using Prime95 to test your system and ensure it is working properly. The tips presented there should be helpful regarding how long to run the torture test and provide a solid guideline on how long to run the Prime95 stress test.

 

Performing a stress test is simple:

 

  1. Download the software and unzip the files to your desired location.
  2. Run the Prime95 executable and select "Just Stress Testing" when asked.
  3. The default options are sufficient to do a well balanced stress test on the system.

 

  1.  

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime95#Use_for_stress_testing

 

Running the stress test overnight with zero errors provides reasonable confidence there is no huge defect in your hardware.

 

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+DevTech    746
Quote

"Boot a scan disk" means exactly what?  I don't know how to go about this.

 

Some of the top Anti-Virus makers. Even for the vendors that are not FREE, the boot disk version is FREE.

 

Running any one of these that appeal to you would provide a huge confidence jump and time permitting, running all of them would eliminate the Rootkit scenario as an issue.

 

Unlike McAfee, these are all first-rate products:

 

List of Anti-Virus Boot Disks for DVD or USB

 

https://www.avast.com/faq.php?article=AVKB114

 

https://www.bitdefender.com/support/how-to-create-a-bitdefender-rescue-cd-627.html

https://download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd/latest/

 

https://www.avira.com/en/download/product/avira-rescue-system

 

https://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk

 

https://www.eset.com/int/support/sysrescue/

 

 

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+DevTech    746
Quote

My website gives my email address, so it is public domain.

 

That is so so 90's - The Techno-Hippie Dawn of the Internet with Vibes of Peace, Love and Understanding

 

This is 2017. You NEVER put an email address on a website!

 

You make a "Contact Us" page with a form that gets submitted. This achieves two things, the elimination of SPAM and secondly for the benefit of humanity, it is irresponsible to have openly displayed email addresses on a website that can be harvested by SPAM-Bots. Don't feed those evil things!

 

if you employed some entity to make the website for you then they should know better. Suggest you find someone else if only because they are probably messing up other stuff as well. If you made the website yourself and you make money from the website, then employ a competent professional and they will increase your site revenue as a bonus on top of proper web design.

 

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Howard Davis    3
20 hours ago, DevTech said:

 

That is so so 90's - The Techno-Hippie Dawn of the Internet with Vibes of Peace, Love and Understanding

 

This is 2017. You NEVER put an email address on a website!

 

You make a "Contact Us" page with a form that gets submitted. This achieves two things, the elimination of SPAM and secondly for the benefit of humanity, it is irresponsible to have openly displayed email addresses on a website that can be harvested by SPAM-Bots. Don't feed those evil things!

 

if you employed some entity to make the website for you then they should know better. Suggest you find someone else if only because they are probably messing up other stuff as well. If you made the website yourself and you make money from the website, then employ a competent professional and they will increase your site revenue as a bonus on top of proper web design.

 

Thanks for this advice. I created the website myself - as I recall using Filezilla and Blue Griffon, and when I needed changes/corrections that required a knowledge of HTML coding a friend that has designed websites did that for me. The presence of my email address on the site probably accounts for the SPAM I get, but I can tolerate that for the sake of easy communication by potential clients/customers. About a year ago some hacker deleted the site, but I have restored it with far better passwords.

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Howard Davis    3
21 hours ago, DevTech said:

The file you want:

 

http://www.mersenne.org/ftp_root/gimps/p95v2810.win64.zip

 

https://www.mersenne.org/download/

 

  1.  

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime95#Use_for_stress_testing

 

Running the stress test overnight with zero errors provides reasonable confidence there is no huge defect in your hardware.

 

Being limited in time for computer diddling, and a bit afraid of doing damage as I am not an expert as you are, I'll decline for now to do this. As long as this computer is serving my needs I have no need for a perfect machine. 

 

21 hours ago, DevTech said:

 

Some of the top Anti-Virus makers. Even for the vendors that are not FREE, the boot disk version is FREE.

 

Running any one of these that appeal to you would provide a huge confidence jump and time permitting, running all of them would eliminate the Rootkit scenario as an issue.

 

Unlike McAfee, these are all first-rate products:

 

List of Anti-Virus Boot Disks for DVD or USB

 

https://www.avast.com/faq.php?article=AVKB114

 

https://www.bitdefender.com/support/how-to-create-a-bitdefender-rescue-cd-627.html

https://download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd/latest/

 

https://www.avira.com/en/download/product/avira-rescue-system

 

https://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk

 

https://www.eset.com/int/support/sysrescue/

 

 

Thank you for this information. If I downloaded the Avast (or another) rescue disk, must it be used only with Avast antivirus present, or could it be used to boot up then run the McAfee LifeSave I already have?

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+DevTech    746
7 minutes ago, Howard Davis said:

Thanks for this advice. I created the website myself - as I recall using Filezilla and Blue Griffon, and when I needed changes/corrections that required a knowledge of HTML coding a friend that has designed websites did that for me. The presence of my email address on the site probably accounts for the SPAM I get, but I can tolerate that for the sake of easy communication by potential clients/customers. About a year ago some hacker deleted the site, but I have restored it with far better passwords.

Well, it's off-topic so no need for further discussion on this. Neowin has a web design forum.

 

Just in case anyone else is reading this, to be clear, it is unprofessional (and irresponsible) to have any email on a website for any reason.

 

Look around on Neowin. You won't see an email anywhere.

 

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+DevTech    746
Just now, Howard Davis said:

Being limited in time for computer diddling, and a bit afraid of doing damage as I am not an expert as you are, I'll decline for now to do this. As long as this computer is serving my needs I have no need for a perfect machine. 

 

Thank you for this information. If I downloaded the Avast (or another) rescue disk, must it be used only with Avast antivirus present, or could it be used to boot up then run the McAfee LifeSave I already have?

The bootable rescue disks are self-contained and will run the respective vendor's Anti-Virus product which is a good thing. Every product listed is superior to McAfee. Ignore the Avast one. They have a convenient "make a boot disk" option if you have Avast already installed but don't appear to have a ISO download so not useful ATM. The Rescue Disks are not install disks so once they are run, nothing will be changed other than any repairs that you select.

 

The last thing you want is to go to all the trouble of booting from a disk just to get stuck with McAfee again!

 

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