General discussion

Everything's going wrong. For the love of God, help me!

Okay, about a week or so ago I started to notice some changes with my computer. First and foremost, Firefox was crashing a lot. Then, as time went on, Windows Media Player and other programs began to crash regularly as well. In some cases I would double-click on an icon and the crash message would come up so I couldn't even open it. This would happen again and again until I restarted my computer, but that led to another problem. As time went on, say a few days or so, my computer would restart when I would click on certain icons (I didn't notice any pattern) and load up normally to the Windows XP welcome screen, then reboot again. It would do this twice or three times back-to-back in most instances. By this time I was getting pretty frustrated and was running Ad-Aware and a demo of Trend Micro PC-Cillin constantly (they are the only anti-virus programs I have) but it wasn't finding an inordinate number of problems, nor was it finding the particular virus that was causing me so much grief. It's gotten steadily worse since then, but now the sound has been dropping out on me. I used to just not have any sound in Firefox, but as of yesterday I have not been able to hear any system sounds or music from external applications (I used to be able to do this). I looked in the control panel and what happens is that it doesn't recognize that any sound device is attached, but all the options are grayed out so I can't change them. I downloaded the nVidia nForce audio driver off the website and it would temporarily reinstate sound capabilities, but sure enough I would lose sound in another few minutes. I did this over and over again, but the virus must have eventually caught up with it, because now when I try to do that, it tels me the installer itself is corrupt and unreadable. Furthermore, it has recently been recognizing my sound device, but I can get no sound whatsoever out of it. My programs are still crashing, I have no sound at all, my computer is still restarting at random and it's driving me insane. I have to fix this; any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm not sure whether this is one problem or multiple, but it didn't show up on the Symantec free scan and it seems to be getting worse and worse.

Here are my system specs:


Windows XP Home Edition (Service Pack 2)
eMachines T3395
AMD Sempron 3000+ (1.99Ghz)
1.18 Gb of RAM

The programs that seem to be crashing most are Firefox and Windows Media Player, but it's not unusual for Windows Explorer or, for that matter, any program I have open to crash.

Please help.

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Comments
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Start with downloading

AVG Anti Spyware:

download AVG Anti-Spyware from HERE and save that file to your desktop.

After the installation, a free 30-day trial version containing all the extensions of the full version will be activated. At the end of the trial, these extensions will be deactivated and the program will turn into a feature-limited freeware version.

Once you have downloaded AVG Anti-Spyware, locate the icon on the desktop and double-click it to launch the set up program.
Once the setup is complete you will need run AVG Anti-Spyware and update the definition files.
On the main screen select the icon "Update" then select the "Update now" link.

Next select the "Start Update" button, the update will start and a progress bar will show the updates being installed.
Once the update has completed select the "Scanner" icon at the top of the screen, then select the "Settings" tab.
Once in the Settings screen click on "Recommended actions" and then select "Quarantine".

Under "Reports"
Select "Automatically generate report after every scan"
Un-Select "Only if threats were found".

Close AVG Anti-spyware, do NOT run a scan just yet, we will shortly.

Reboot your computer into SafeMode. You can do this by restarting your computer and continually tapping the F8 key until a menu appears. Use your up arrow key to highlight SafeMode then hit enter.

IMPORTANT: Do not open any other windows or programs while AVG Anti-spyware is scanning, it may interfere with the scanning proccess:
Lauch AVG Anti-Spyware by double-clicking the icon on your desktop.

Select the "Scanner" icon at the top and then the "Scan" tab then click on "Complete System Scan".
AVG Anti-Spyware will now begin the scanning process, be patient this may take a little time.

Once the scan is complete do the following:
If you have any infections you will prompted, then select "Apply all actions".

Close AVG Anti-Spyware and reboot your system back into Normal Mode.

Please run the Housecall online virus scan located at:
http://housecall.trendmicro.com/housecall/start_corp.asp
Follow the prompts to scan your hard drive for viruses. Select the "Autoclean" option so that Housecall will remove any viruses from your system.
When the scan is finished, please restart your computer.


Do you have ALL critical Miscrosoft Updates?? Go to Windows Update and see, IF youo have ALL.

Pls. let us know how you are doing.

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AVG or ewido?

When clicking on the HERE link, I get ewido. I was just seeing what the AVG spyware utility was.

Julea

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(NT) Sorry about that -- I see ewido is AVG -- didn't realize!
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This may be a power supply issue

Marianne has some excellent suggestions to either find an infection or completely rule out, in addition to what you have done, the possibility of an infection.

The multiple re-boots, no sound etc, sound like some corruption in your power supply.

Why not post this in our Computer Help Forum?

It is possible that some other poster has experienced a similar problem and a fix maybe available.

David Williams

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Crash

But the crash doesn't sound like a power supply problem. Hmmm ... well I suggest installing Avast, Google it.

*thinks*

Defragmentate your computer?

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"Ad-Aware and a demo of Trend Micro PC-Cillin antivirus?"

Ad-Aware SE is antispyware; demo of Trend Micro PC-Cillin is antivirus, but it is a demo. These are free antivirus:
AVG Free Edition 7.7583
Avast! 4 Home 7.6168
AntiVir Personal Edition 7.2794
they are also on: http://www.filehippo.com under antispyware's list in the middle. DarCLew2

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An Update

I've downloaded and installed AVG Anti-Spyware (which is a great program by the way)and SpyBot Search and Destroy. Both programs ran and found some items (AVG found something like 400 problems) but this seems to have only curbed the effects of the virus. Programs aren't crashing as much, nor is my computer restarting as much as it used to, but they both still are. I also defragmented my hard drive but it didn't seem to do too much. One thing, though...when it first goes to the desktop after restarting, all my tray icons and whatnot load. After this is done, I run EndItAll to get rid of all unwanted background programs. Then, my computer tends to go really slowly, and Task Manager says that either svchost.exe or SymWSC.exe are using like 99 percent of the processor capacity. I know I shouldn't end these programs because they are important to the well being of my computer, but I just can't get anything done with them running, so I end them both. Could you tell me why you think they are using so much of the processor? The help you've given me is greatly appreciated.

Oh, and my sound still only sometimes works. That's really frustrating. Any suggestions on how to fix that?

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symwsc.exe

symwsc.exe - Here is the scoop on Security Center as it pertains to computer network security. The big question: what is symwsc.exe and is it spyware, a trojan and if so, how do I get rid of Security Center?
symwsc.exe (Security Center) - Details

The symwsc.exe process is a fundamental part of your Symantec security software. It is required for your security software to function correclty. Without it your computer may not be adequately protected from viruses, trojans and other malware. You should leave this process running.

symwsc.exe is an application that does NOT appear to be a security risk

The Spy Bot database currently registers symwsc.exe to Symantec.

This is part of Symantec internet security.

http://www.auditmypc.com/process/symwsc.asp

Maybe it also would be a "good idea" to post in the XP forum?

http://forums.cnet.com/5204-6142_102-0.html?forumID=5&tag=dir.forum&tag=dir.forum

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After this is done, I run EndItAll to get rid of all

this is NOTthe way to get rid of unwanted background programs----Enditall to get rid of all unwanted background programs.


if you have unwanted background programs.

go to start>settings> control panel> performance and maintenance> administrative tools and look for the programs you want to stop.

Enditall is only to be used when you want to run a scan disc and defrag and it is recommended that you stop all running programs.

David

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The symwsc.exe process part of your Symantec Software,Do..

you have the yahoo toolbar installed? If so, you may have Norton Antispyware which is Symantec.
" Oh, and my sound still only sometimes works " Go to Sounds and Audio Devices in your Control Panel, Sounds Tab, are any sound icons missing? You can click on them and Browse for your Media file in Windows and hear how they sound, then install them. DarCLew2

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The problems persist...

I know that I could search for a sound device, but the virus grays out everything in the sounds and audio devices window, so I have to reinstall my codec. Even then, I MAY only get sound for a few programs. Lately I've been noticing I lose sound much more often in Firefox than on, say, Windows Media Player. For example, I may be able to play music in wmp or iTunes, but I can't get sound from websites. I've also noticed that sometimes my system may change from the standard Windows XP theme to the old windows 98/2000 theme without it even asking me. It doesn't do this all the way, just on the task bar and on the title bars of programs. My programs are still crashing (though not quite as often) and once in a while I'll get an error message that only says "error". When I exit that window, all my desktop icons have disappeared, as well as my task bar and all I'm left being able to see is my wallpaper. I know that SymWSC.exe is a part of Symantec security, but my question is why it, along with svchost.exe, use so much of my processor speed (80%-100%). I think my trial of Norton is expired anyway.

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'svchost.exe using much of my processor speed'
'I know that SymWSC.exe is a part of Symantec security, but my question is why it, along with svchost.exe, use so much of my processor speed (80%-100%). I think my trial of Norton is expired anyway.'

You said, Trend Micro PC-Cillin was the only AV you have on your system. Also, that you thought Norton had expired. If it has expired, it seems odd the Security Center would be running, no less taking up so much processor speed. Why not confirm it's expiration, then clean up what's ever left of Norton on your system. At the very least, it would eliminate one less possibility.

I'm having some problems following this thread. The only reason I've posted was to offer you the following, regarding your question about svchost.exe. (Read the entire thread) The symptoms may not be exactly the same, but the given solution, might be worth a try anyway.
http://forums.devshed.com/windows-help-34/svchost-exe-99-100-cpu-usage-hijackthis-tasklist-need-help-375578.html

More of a shot in the dark, than anything else.
Carol
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I Suspect Several Problems at Work:

First off, you've got to get rid of ANY & ALL traces of Symantec/Norton (notoriously hard to do) if you want to run AV or anti-spyware from competitors. Often these programs have background running guards and having 2 or more running at same time can cause conflicts/crashes/hangs.It's particularly hard if your running under Norton's "Expired subscription...try to force them to re-subscribe" mode!! Note exactly WHICH version & year and then download the Norton removal tool appropriate for you last install. See if the one you need
is HERE.
Note Spybot & Norton have something of a small war going on between them as reported at the Spybotinfo site.

If you have a decent cleaner program like CCleaner, I would then run it. If you don't have you can get from this "Certain ally Worth Try"
POST. It's 4th one down.

Additionally, after all you've been through, I think it likely some system files have been corrupted. You can fix them by running a CheckDisk/Repair to re-install fresh copies of bad ones by following instructions in the 4th post down
HERE.

Given your horrors, you won't want to be using any older System Restore points which could re-install problem settings so to prevent accidentally doing so, I would dump them and create new after each successful step forward. Be sure to label each well with description of current step. Exmpl: Post Norton rem.& Chkdsk/pre-CCleaner.

Is it possible your sound card is dying/leaking memory ??

Hope this at least reduces most of the oddities! Good Luck! Happy

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Let's look at that Task List, very closely.

CTRL+SHIFT+ESC

and wait until the task manager comes up.

Click on the processes tab. First of all, look through ALL of the SVCHOST and see if one of them is actually "SCVHOST" (inverted V and C), if it is, you've got a very vicious worm in your system.

If you could, write me down every single process in that Task list, its PID, CPU, CPU Time and MEM usage.

Therefore we can see possibly what the problem is, or, you can use this site
http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm
to identify any problems yourself.

ONE more thing - I know it's usually out of your control, but please try to minimize rebooting of the computer. I try to reboot mine only when absolutely necessary, as Viruses can only really grab hold when you reboot the system into memory.

Good luck in this dire situation.

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RE: Spybot & Norton War

I take great care to check out reviews and information about certain programs that don't get along with each other, cause conflicts, that kind of stuff. So, I usually do a bit of research before I installed my apps, in particular when it comes to security. So far my system is smooth sailing and the apps get along with one another. So the Spybot & Norton War caught my eye cos I'm using Norton AV '06 and Spybot as part of my system security. What kind war is happening between the 2 and what does it mean for me is my question? Should I uninstall Spybot and perhaps try out the much acclaimed AVG Antispyware? Appreciate feedback.

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Hi Den65

Some people just don't like Norton. I have used it for many years and it has never failed me so I keep using it. I use Norton, Spybot, Ad-Aware, SpywareBlaster, SpywareGuard, Windows Defender. BOClean, a-squared, ClamWin AV and the list goes on(about 10 others). Some I use all the time and some I only have and keep updated so I know how they work and so I can help people if they have a problem with them. I have absolutely NO conflicts with ANY of the above on the same computer. This is a public forum so you will see a huge amount of different opinions for different programs depending on whoever the poster is and their OWN past experience happens to be with the particular programs. Different things work for different people.

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RE

Ya, it's true many don't like Norton. I've been using NAV 04, 05 & 06 and also have not had any problems. Also, have been effective. Thnx for posting.

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(NT) You're welcome. Just use what works for YOU. :)
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Yes, Spybot Works Just Fine Here Too(Without Norton), Here's

the news article (copy & pasted) and at top the link:
http://www.spybot.info/en/news/index.html

Either Safer Networking Ltd. or Symantec leaving the Anti Spyware Coalition... 29. September 2006

From March 2005 to December 2005, Symantec labeled Spybot-S&D as incompatible to Norton Ghost, and endangering backups, with no reason given to us in 19 months now. Since October 2005, Norton Internet Security has told users that Spybot-S&D would be incompatible and they had to remove Spybot-S&D.

Eleven months later, Symantec has given us just one explanation that was mostly invented and not fitting. Even though Symantec again promised changes, they have now released Norton Internet Security 2007 which again urges the user to uninstall Spybot-S&D.

We would have loved to work with them to remove any incompatibility, but although they were eager to tell their customers about these so-called 'incompatibilities', even threats of legal action could not persuade Symantec to give us any details. Well, actually they promised they would send us details, but those promises haven't been fullfilled for nearly a year. Is Symantecs Quality Assurance department so bad that they can't either find the old reports or re-test?

Both of us are members of the ASC, the Anti Spyware Coalition, a group of anti-spyware companies working together - in theory. The ASC has discussed Best Practices for half a year now. Sadly, this seems to only affect practices against malware creators, while coalition members are allowed to fight each other as much as they want.

If we created spyware instead of anti-spyware, we probably would laugh various body parts at seeing how one anti-spyware application removes the other.

Arbitration by the ASC has only resulted in broken promises by Symantec.

We will therefore bring a motion in front of the ASC to expel Symantec for damaging the ASC through its practices of illegal improper competition and libel, resulting even in malware creators being able to spread their malware better. Should this motion be rejected by a majority of ASC members, we most likely leave this coalition as it would then appear that ASC is favoring libel as a proper way of competition.

If you think that anti-spyware companies should fight spyware creators instead of each other, please send an email to ASC members of your choice, found here, and/or to the ASC itself, at asc@cdt.org.

Following that, thinking on how we could stop Symantec, we have two options: taking expensive legal steps, or behaving the same way as Symantec, accepting the removal of a competitor as a "legit" step. Should we add detection for Norton Internet Security 2006 and 2007 as Malware or Possibly UnPopular Software (PUPS)?

* Yes, detect NIS completely!
* Yes, but detect only some harmless files to wake up people.
* No, please waste our donations to go through legal channels, instead of using them to fight malware.
* None of the above.

Please note that under ASCs definition, technology that is implemented in ways that impairs user control over material changes that affecs their system security, in other words software that reduces system security like NIS does, falls under the term Spyware (and Other Potentially Unwanted Technologies), so adding NIS to the detection would not be revenge, but a strict following of the ASC definitions.

We have started a poll in our forums where you can vote!

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(NT) Interesting how the poll is going at the moment ;)
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Norton and Spybot

Tossing my hat in the ring once again for Norton....been using NIS (currently NIS 2005) for years, along with Spybot S&D, without problem.

Miki

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Some suggestions..

The OS re-Install is the best remedy..then there is also a Look-see inside of System Set-UP..don't change any setting just READ the Screen and all INFO..You May Need to Turn something ON or OFF..
Then there are PCI-cards..CLICK-ADD/REMOVE Programs(REMOVE)the software and DRIVERS that use those CARDS..turn off your PC..dis-connect all Power Cords and GROUND the Panel Power Switch by PRESSING it INwards for 10-seconds..remove the Cards..Power Back-UP..See if your PC is running properly minus the CARDS and Software and DRIVERS..and..Re-install the Cards back/ADD the Software and DRIVERS back and Check again..this may reveal that your OS needs to be re-installed/PLUS/remove and re-install the CARDS..But FIRST..re-install the OS and ISP CD..Security Software..UPDATE..then Software(update again)Turn OFF the PC..Ground out the Front Panel Power Switch/disconnect al the Power Cords..Replace the PCI-cards..Power Up..and Install that software and Drivers..OS-first..then Modem and software..then ISP CD..then Security Software(w/Updates)..Then Microsoft Updates..PCI-cards last/then software and drivers for the CARDS..a couple of RESTARTS..and a 20-minute PAUSE on the Desktop should offer a good PC..Hope I did NOT leanve anything OUT..ALWAYS dis-connect Electricity before OPENINNG the Tower..Ground the Power Switch by Pressing INward for 10-seconds..the latter two should keep your PC safe from damage.

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To make a LONG story Short/

When doing a OS Re-Install..
Remove the PCI-cards..
and then re-install them last.

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Curious- why remove pc cards to reinstall OS

I have never heard of this and wonder on the thinking behind it
Thanks

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victory

I can't really explain it, but things seem to have gotten much better. I mean, I scanned and defragged and did everything else to my drives and I was still having a few problems, but when I got back from a few days out of town it seems to have gotten exponentially better. It hasn't rebooted itself anytime in recent memory, and programs are rarely crashing. I am always getting sound, and my computer seems to have virtually fixed itself. As I said, I have no idea how this happened so suddenly (I last did a major scan of my drives some time ago), but the only complaint I can give now is that Firefox is crashing every couple of hours, but sometimes not at all. I don't really care that much, however, because Firefox 2.0 has the option of restoring the session you were working on. If FF crashes, I just restore my session and everything is the way it was. I'll post again if any symptoms should resurface, but for now let me say that all of your help was greatly appreciated.

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(NT) That's GREAT news - maybe your computer needed a "break" :)
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I've had this sort of problem....

I've had a similar problem with my computer before a couple of times. The first thing I do is to run my antivirus/spyware programs - but nothing ever comes up as the culprit. The next step, for me, has been to use System Restore and back my computer up to a time when it wasn't doing that. It's always worked for me. I don't know WHY it worked, mind you, but it always has.

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Cutting through the problem

I do this for a living and rescue puters from this all the time.

Check all hardware. Run diagnostics. Particularly hard drive. Be thorough.

Boot into Windows in Safe Mode (F8 before you see the windows logo loading).

In windows explorer make sure you can see all hidden and system files.
Go into all of the user profiles under Documents and Settings. All of them.

Kill everything within cookies. Go into Local Settings. Kill everything in History, Temp, and Temporary Internet Files. Do this for ALL profiles.

Go into your Windows directory (folder). Take a look at Downloaded files. If it is all recognizable and not damaged, leave it. If you see something that looks wrong or damaged, kill it. If you need it when you get back online it will re-install.

Go into Windows/Prefetch folder. Clean it out.
Go into Windows/Temp folder. Clean it out.

Now go to a command prompt. Start, Run, type in msconfig and hit enter.

Take a look at what is running on startup. Here if you disable something that you need, you can always go back and turn it back on. This is safer than looking into the registry. Just like in Downloaded Program Files, look for unknowns or possible trouble. Maybe calibrate it a little.

Reboot and see if that helps.

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Several Things

It is possible, albeit unlikely since you are running Norton AV, that you are infected by a virus. It is somewhat more likely that your computer has become riddled with spyware and adware, which you can remove with Spybot or Ad-Aware (or, preferably, both -- each finds things the other misses). And, likeliest of all, your hard drive has become fragmented beyond the point at which it can perform reliably.

If I were you, I would do the following things in the following order, and reboot between each step:

1. Disk cleanup. Clear your web browser file cache. Then, using something like Webroot's Window Washer, clean out all your unnecessary files and manually remove all the software you've installed but never use. (You can also just use Windows XP's disk cleanup.

2. Run a full antivirus scan. I'm not a big fan of Norton or anything else from Symantec, particularly Norton Antivirus versions prior to the latest one which is a BIG improvement, but it'll do. Personally, I would remove it and replace it with AVG's wonderful free edition, which is much less of a burden on your system and is updated even more frequently (at least daily) with the latest virus definitions.

(Don't run multiple antivirus apps. All they do is get in each others' way and eat clock cycles. Use only one.)

3. Run a couple of different spyware/adware scans and get rid of all of that crap. No matter how careful you are you will ALWAYS find something to remove. I hope the law catches up with the idiots who wreck people's computers with this nasty stuff and starts locking them up for years in actual brick-and-mortar prisons, right next to the spammers.

4. Download and install an evaluation version of PerfectDisk 8 from Raxco and run a smart defrag (there are other similar applications available but this one has worked so well for me that I actually paid good money to buy the full version when my evaluation expired). This is MUCH, MUCH better than the defrag utility shipped with XP and it made my five-year-old computer run like new.

If these steps don't cure what ails you then you've got some kind of real problem. My computer did once -- it turned out to be leaking capacitors in my motherboard, requiring some MAJOR surgery.

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Everything's going wrong. For the love of God, help me!

Dear Bates1010:
I had about the same problems as you have, and my problems only started after I installed SP2, SP2 is nothing but problems, so I repaired my windows, instead of reformatting, and un-installed SP2, and re-installed all the custom windows updates,{SP1 is in the custom updates} and everything was fixed, I'm not the only one that has had problems with SP2, many more that I know of had the same problems.
I run AVG anti virus, it's the best, and also I have Ad-aware, Spybot Search & Destroy, SpywareBlaster, and Spy Sweeper. I run them once a week, and my system works great. And don't put Automatic Updates, because it will install SP2 again.
Good luck,,, It fixed mine perfectly.

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