Spyware, Viruses, & Security forum

General discussion

How to Remove Malware, et al, like the computer repair shops

by katiebug57 / March 21, 2007 3:14 AM PDT

Windows XP Home Edition, 512 RAM, 260 GB Hard drive

I have "all" the programs that most folks have: Ad-Aware, Spybot, Spysweeper, CrapCleaner, etc.

The problem is that I run those things diligently, and my computer STILL got cluttered with stuff. I don't know how. It cost me a pretty penny to get it cleaned up.

What I want to know is how I can repair my computer like the pros do without having to spend an arm and a leg.

Thanks for the help.

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Hi Katie
by roddy32 / March 21, 2007 4:05 AM PDT

That would depend on exactly WHAT the computer is being cluttered with. Surfing habits make a huge difference in getting infected with malware also. P2P is an extremely easy way to get malware on the computer. In your list, you didn't mention SpywareBlaster. That prevents SOME of it from installing. If you don't have that, would strongly recommend it. It is free like the other.


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Hi Roddy
by katiebug57 / March 21, 2007 11:22 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Katie

I actually have used Spyware Blaster in the past, but I found Ewido and SpySweeper caught more things.

I'm trying to figure out what to do WHEN I get spyware on my machine that isn't caught by anything I run.


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by tomron / March 21, 2007 11:55 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Roddy

"I actually have used Spyware Blaster in the past, but I found Ewido and SpySweeper caught more things"

spyware blaster function is as a preventer,it prevents spyware from being installed inside your computer,it does not function as an anti spyware program,such as avg anti spyware which will remove a threat.


"I'm trying to figure out what to do WHEN I get spyware on my machine that isn't caught by anything I run."

Not sure how too respond too that other then too say install many anti spyware programs.There are no guarantees,so,an ounce of prevention....


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Katie, different malware requires different
by roddy32 / March 21, 2007 12:24 PM PDT
In reply to: Hi Roddy

tools to get rid of it. Ewido and SpySweeper are 2 of the better ones BUT there is NOT one single program that will remove everything. You still have not said exactly WHAT it is that you have to keep cleaning up. That brings me back to exactly what I said before. SpywareBlaster prevents many things from being installed in the first place. If they can't install, you have no need to remove them. The "combination" of prevention programs, good scanners and safe surfing will keep the computer cleaner. If you use things like P2P, then you may as well get used to cleaning the computer up constantly.

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To all!
by katiebug57 / March 25, 2007 5:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Hi Katie

Got some really great ideas and suggestions. You're all gems!

BTW, to whoever said, I use Sandboxie almost all the time when I surf the web. The place I don't is when I open a link from Outlook onto FF. I haven't figured out how to make that run in the sandbox.

Really, REALLY appreciate everyone.


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Oops! Oops! Another question
by katiebug57 / March 25, 2007 5:47 AM PDT
In reply to: To all!

Someone suggested using a hosts file. What is a hosts file and what does it do for me?


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This link explains a Hosts file
by roddy32 / March 25, 2007 6:48 AM PDT
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You Don't Mention Which Firewall You Use or if....
by tobeach / March 21, 2007 4:42 PM PDT

you have a router(with or without hardware firewall built in). I Recommend using one. Hardwired preferred as anything wireless has its' own set of holes.
Also several applications such as Internet Chat, Messenger & even OE have hidden back channels/or flaws that allow in pests. OE's one can be disabled by an add-on for AdawareSE available at Lavasoft's Home Site. Keep the others disabled at start-up until/unless you need to use them.

Using IE for browsing is a pretty good hole in general especially with active-X(including Flash Player & Adobe Reader)enabled.
I'm VERY leery of anything with the word "Toolbar" in it!!

Again: Browsing (say sites with freebie offers of discount coupons/special deals etc can often be a source along with freebie/low cost internet service which may include mandatory ads.
Make "Blank or about blank" your home page and search through Google (remember toolbar?).

Hope this offers some insight in to possible incoming routes . Happy

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Remember that all those programs
by ask4anu / March 21, 2007 4:59 PM PDT

create FLASE positive including firewall software also
as the windows enviroment may be using any one of those annoying things creating a flase positive

but to clean your pc like a pro all you need is a REAL COPY of the OS you use and not a restore disk and then
boot from it then fallow instructions


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I think I'm getting it
by katiebug57 / March 21, 2007 11:59 PM PDT

Like I said, I had Spyware Blaster in the past, but I think the guys who "fixed" my computer deleted it. As far as a firewall, I use Comodo instead of Win Firewall. And, I don't have to worry about Outlook Express as I use Outlook.

When I took my computer in last time, they told me it was "loaded" with spyware, which I had a hard time believing as I run anti-whatever programs all the time.

However, what I have begun doing is using a virtual computer for most of my web surfing. I can't use it all the time, like say, from Outlook, but I'm hoping it keeps things clean.

Thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions.


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They MIGHT have been just looking
by roddy32 / March 22, 2007 12:08 AM PDT
In reply to: I think I'm getting it

for extra money out of you. I'm not saying that they were but are there as many ripoff shops as there are legit ones. You're welcome and happy surfing. Happy

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Preventing Malware
by rgismondi / March 23, 2007 10:40 AM PDT
In reply to: I think I'm getting it


There are a number of things that were not mentioned in your posts, or in the replies, and some I wish to emphasize. For example, use a browser such as Firefox or Opera. They are more fully featured, especially Opera, free, and safer and faster. You can use one or all three; but, the independents are less likely to attract malware.

Get a free Hosts file. It takes a bit of understanding, but, it will repay your diligence, greatly. See:
Don't let it intimidate you; it will give a lot of protection, if you read it carefully and use it.

You do not mention an anti-virus. Skip suites, but get an AV. Try AVG free. To guard your Hosts file, Start Page, and Default Search engine, get WinPatrol Free. It also allows you to modify the Startup Folder (MSCONFIG) easier and faster.

Last, be sure your firewall is 2-way. If not, try Zone Alarm free. These tips plus your 2 or 3 anti-spyware scanners should do the trick. However, as already suggested, beware peer-to-peer applications, such as Limewire. They invite strangers into your computer. (Horrors!)

Once you have these things operational, and update and use them regularly, you should have few problems. But, never open unsolicited emails, with ANY email client, never open attachments you are not 100% certain of. And never install software without a strong recommendation from a trusted expert.


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Setting up your pc to deal with the problem if it occurs
by computernut / March 23, 2007 11:38 AM PDT

I have tried all of the free anti-spyware programs and some that were not free such as Spyware Doctor and the anti-spyware in the Zone Alarm Security suite and they all let me down when I got infected with spyware. True, all of them removed "some" spyware, but none of them removes all spyware and the particular spyware that I had was too much of a problem to ignore. Since I cannot and will not go to a pro each time I get infected I decided I needed some kind of fool proof solution in that event. This solution does require that your computer is free of spyware or viruses when you do it so that may require a complete reinstall of Windows and all your apps. After you are sure your computer is spyware free you need to add a partition to your hard drive or you can add a second hard drive and format it. Your c: drive will contain your operating system and your programs. The second partition , or if you wish, a second hard drive, may be added for this partition, will contain My Documents and any downloaded programs or updates to your computer. It is simpler to do this setup with a clean istall of XP, but it can be done by using a partitioning program such as Partition Magic if you wish to keep your current operating system intact. Once you have setup your computer and made the second partition you need to move My Documents off of the c: drive to the other partition, probably e: or f: depending on how many drives you have. You do this by right clicking on My Documents and choose Properties. In the properties you will see a tab that says "move". Choose the location of the other partition and move it there. Your current documents will now be on the other partition as well as any future documents you save on your computer. Next, you need to have a complete backup image of your c: drive that will allow you to restore your c: drive back to the way it was before you got infected. Make sure you have Windows completely updated and all of your programs and apps installed before making the backup as it will save a great deal of time in the future. Programs for backing up your hard drive which I have used successfully are Acronis True Image and Norton Ghost. I have had a higher degree of success with the Norton Ghost however. Both programs are fairly simple and easy to use and the restoration process only takes about 30-60 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with how to install an operating system you will need help. There is a great deal of step by step instuctions on the internet to help you install XP. Some computer manufacturers such as Gateway or Hewlett Packard make partitions on the hard drive for you already allowing you to restore your system in the event of a crash or other problem such as spyware you cannot get rid of so you may want to check on that. If all this sounds too complicated you could still buy Acronis or Ghost and backup your computer to a USB external hard drive for restoration. You simply install one of the programs and run it. External hard drives are very affordable these days and will easily hold your backup as well as all of your important files. I hope this is of some help as I know of no other way to protect yourself from spyware other than buying a gun and trying to hunt down the spyware programmers!

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Here's the deal, my way.
by Brianstech / March 23, 2007 12:28 PM PDT

I'm one of those who makes decent money fixing people's computers. I'm an independent, someone who has gained many clients through my years of knowledge, buying and selling, building, networking, and repairs.

Do you want to know how I keep my own computers running well?

1. I use a hardware router, Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, it doesn't matter. And I don't use extreme security settings.

2. I use Firefox as my browser. Maybe once every few months I'll use Internet Explorer to achieve something I can't with Firefox, and that's usually for experimental purposes. A few years back I got fed up with all the crap invading my computer EVERY FEW MINUTES with IE. Switched to Firefox, and the whole internet world opened its arms to me. I never looked back.

I CANNOT use Firefox without some enhancements. They're called extensions. NoScript is the most important, it won't allow a single site to run scripts (including bad ones) without your approval. Next is Adblock Plus, something that speeds loading times with every click as it blocks all those "leecher" ads from loading. I compliment that with AdBlock FiltersetG Updater.

Go to http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ to learn all about it.

Also, I always install SpywareBlaster. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it helps keep the bad guys out. That's always good.

3. CCleaner. It's a simple small free program I couldn't live without. It takes mere seconds to eliminate all my internet history, cookies and cache. Not to mention emptying the Recycle Bin, and it even has a simple Registry cleaner.

CCleaner is not a security program, it qualifies as a utility. But it makes all my security scanning programs almost completely worthless. I know, I've tested it too many times. After a week or so of internet usage I've run Spybot or AdAware to see they would find the usual list of benign cookies. Running CCleaner first makes AdAware, Spyboy S&D, Ewido, and even Doctor Alex a waste of my time. They all find nothing, for about 2 years now.


4. Background programs. I DO NOT ALLOW programs to load and run with Windows. Install your camera software, scanner software, TV tuner software, DVD media player, sound card and mixer, Itunes, it doesn't stop. They all want to be in your face every minute you are on your computer. And they are constantly hovering, waiting for you to request their services, at the cost of your time and RAM. Why do they do this? Obviously it's greed.

So you shut them down. And still they occupy CPU cycles while they constantly seek updates because you didn't STOP that also!

I use my digital camera about once every few months, my scanner even less. Why do they embed their software up my operating system's wahoo?


5. Email. Not much to say, I simply DON'T allow HTML to get through all three accounts. All my email accounts are set up for "text only", so the crooks can't can't infest my computer as easily. I also take the time to block the address or domain of every spammer, and only get about 2 unwarranted emails a year. I'm very serious.

And my life will never be changed by ANYTHING I read in an email. It's email for gosh sakes! When I read "Your Paypal account has been accessed by a third party", I laughed. I logged onto Paypal to see it was only a scammer's attempt to get me to react through clicking their link to provide them with my account information. THERE ISN'T A SINGLE EMAIL THAT WOULD EVER RAISE MY BLOOD PRESSURE!! Nowadays they can install scary stuff in your PC as soon as you open their email, unless you use "text only".

I almost wish they would still try, but it's been over 2 years since the last scam emails.


I don't use an antivirus although I wouldn't recommend that to all common users.

And I download through torrents (filesharing) while surfing Russian Porno sites. I'm a registered hacker on a few gamer sites. Sometimes I go down those dark internet alleys looking for trouble, and I always find nothing.

I'm also an established member of eBay, almost 5 years of buying and selling on 2 accounts. Established means I'm also an active member of their communities, the Answer Center and different Groups.

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I can't fix your mess easily.
by Brianstech / March 23, 2007 12:58 PM PDT

All the computers I service and sell are then left to the individual for their own upkeep. I cannot offer hours of education for everyone, instead I'm always left to fix their problems.

You might think I'll make even MORE money, but I can only wish that were the case. Unless months have gone by, I do it for no charge. It's about morals and integrity. I hear that's rare.

Anyway, it would appear the outside world is always filled with terribly infectious things once that PC owner plugs that cable into the internet. I wish I could change that.

Instead I fix them afterward, sometimes only a week later.

Eradicating their specific disease (or diseases) is an extremely difficult process. It takes hours, and I still find Windows to be corrupted after all my hard work.

I'm REALLY good at reinstalling Windows. That's what I've resorted to.

I open their machine and pull their hard drive. I install it in one of my "almost completely safe" machines to access their files. I ask them what they want to keep, and burn it to CD or even DVD's.

Then I simply give them a new install of Windows. That's easy.

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I used to do that myself
by Donna Buenaventura / March 23, 2007 1:48 PM PDT

Reformat when system is not working the way it used to be. Fresh install Windows, update, install applications, setup email accounts. That wasted 4 to 6 hours of my time each time I'll start from scratch.

"I don't do that anymore"

1. I fresh-install Windows, configure, activate, update, remove temp files.
2. Install applications that I frequently use (licenses that is free to use or NFR and then those with lifetime license that I purchased)
3. Setup email accounts and mail rules
4. Defrag
5. Install Acronis True Image. Back up the good condition system in USB external hard-drive.
6. Install the programs that subscriptions will end.
7. Create another backup of system using True Image (this is deleted and/or replaced by new backup)
8. Schedule bi-monthly backup of emails. All backups is in USB external hard-drive including personal documents, pictures. Not in another partition.
PocoMail has built-in backup. Windows Mail or OE is being backup using True Image. Outlook is backup using the free Personal Folder Backup by Microsoft or use True Image.
9. Schedule monthly backup of the system (before Patch Tuesday or whenever I think I should have another backup)
10. Enjoy using the computer.

If anything goes wrong... I simply spend 15 to 25 minutes by restoring the system to the last system backup created by True Image and enjoy using the computer again.

Some friends are now enjoying their computer and not worrying much Happy
They follow the above.

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Re: Here's the deal, my way
by billygard / March 24, 2007 12:14 PM PDT

<<< 4. Background programs. I DO NOT ALLOW programs to load and run with Windows. Install your camera software, scanner software, TV tuner software, DVD media player, sound card and mixer, Itunes, it doesn't stop. They all want to be in your face every minute you are on your computer. And they are constantly hovering, waiting for you to request their services, at the cost of your time and RAM. Why do they do this? Obviously it's greed. >>>

Well, I suppose then that there are a lot of things you simply cannot do on your computer, such as communicate with an MP3 player or a digital camera, or view streamed content requiring Realplayer, the king of nagware. Unless maybe you know of a way to use these things that doesn't require these TSRs.

Ironically, do you know what I'm thinking of uninstalling simply because it nags me, takes up loads of memory, and makes my Windows inoperable when it does its stuff? You got it. Macafee.

Do you think you can be the very first to answer a question nobody has ever tried to address? Why would anyone want to create a program that is annoying and scares people away from installing it if the motive is greed? Do they like us not using their software? Thanks.


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Background programs
by Brianstech / March 24, 2007 3:21 PM PDT

Sure, I shut down all background programs from loading at startup. But they are all still installed, just waiting for me to launch them when I NEED them.

That includes scanner, camera, about 5 photo editing programs, about 12 various video editors, about 10 media players, maybe 5 burners, a few audio converters, TV tuner software, and many others. At least HALF of those want to be loaded and ready. If I allowed it, my PC would crash every time I launched Adobe Photoshop, VideoRedoPlus, or even F.E.A.R. I simply cannot allow it.

I've worked on MANY computers that take 10 minutes or longer to load, then every click takes forever to accomplish simple tasks. And crash, and crash, and CRASH! I shut down their background crap and uninstall all the unnecessary stuff. They're always shocked with the difference. They then click any needed program to launch it.

Keep in mind all those people who have 30-50 processes constantly running can't see when harm is being done. A keylogger or different trojans and malware could go on undetected in a flurry of background activity.

Both of my personal PC's in front of me this moment take around a minute to load. That's from when I push the button to when Windows is ready for my first click. I just brought up my Task Manager to see I currently have 27 processes running. That includes me watching Saturday Night Live in a small box while typing this. Between my HD and LAN lights, not to mention knowing the normal speed and behavior of my machines, I would almost immediately know when evil has invaded.

"Do you think you can be the very first to answer a question nobody has ever tried to address? Why would anyone want to create a program that is annoying and scares people away from installing it if the motive is greed? Do they like us not using their software?"

Yes, it's the greed. The blatant greed we see in our faces as soon as we log onto the internet, or even turn on our TV's.

Try buying a $300 Dell without all those "freebies" loaded on the hard drive. Ain't gonna happen, they get kickbacks from all those companies. That's why they're only $300. So the 3-month trial of Symantec starts nagging you from day 1. Then the Itunes, AOL, and so many others start bombarding you with constant dialog balloons asking you to upgrade or purchase their crap. It takes so long to get rid of that stuff, I've been tempted to just reinstall Windows on every brand new computer I set up.

Speaking of Symantec (Norton), I bought their full retail version in 2004. It took a half hour until I decided to get rid of it, which then took hours. It was absolutely horrible, a complete waste of $50. Because of that experience I've never run an antivirus on my personal PC's ever since. I install the good freebies in the computers I service and sell because I'm tired of them coming back infected.

Like I said, I can't teach hours of security to every one of my clients.

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Adware non-registered
by jle4 / March 28, 2007 3:35 AM PDT

Thanks for all the helpful info. I am a novice, so patience please. I currently use CCleaner and NoAdware non-registered. Is there any point, in getting the registered version? NoAdware reports 1 severe and 3 dangerous files, one of which is there own autorun file. Thanks

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How to Remove Malware, et al, like the computer repair shops

Hi Katie:
If you're like me you do a lot of surfing, for example, Google, Yahoo ETC. well that's where most of the malware, spyware come from, I installed a small program called "McAfee SiteAdvisor" which can be downloaded from Download.com, and since I installed that program I might get i or 2 spyware a month, this little software, tells you when you go {Example Google} if it's safe to open a website or not, it will give you a green checkark if it's safe to go on it, and it will give you a RED X if it has spyware, and it will also give you an exclamation mark to use caution. This is a great little software, it works great for me, hope it works for you. Good luck.

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Some 'free' tools
by eddie11013 / March 24, 2007 12:06 AM PDT

When I fix a computer, I have used the following free 'online' scan tools: A-Squared On Line Trojan Scan -- http://www.windowsecurity.com/trojanscan/
BitDefender On Line Scan -- http://www.bitdefender.com/scan8/ie.html
Ewido On Line Scan -- http://www.ewido.net/en/onlinescan/
F-Secure On Line Scan -- http://support.f-secure.com/enu/home/ols.shtml
House Call Anti-Virus http://housecall.trendmicro.com/housecall/start_corp.asp
Kaspersky http://usa.kaspersky.com/services/free-virus-scanner.php
You can use one or all. What I keep on my computer and put on anyone's computer that I fix: Spyware Blaster, Spybot, Windows Defender, AVG antivirus, ccleaner, & Zone Alarm firewall.
My computer has been clean for years now. As an fyi, I have windows xp pro and use IE6.
Only a suggestion,
Good luck,

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by Christine58 / March 24, 2007 4:40 AM PDT

I have had a Zone Alarm firewall for years, and used to run Ad-aware and Spybot all the time. There was always something there to remove.
It wasn't until I started running Sandboxie that I quit having stuff gather on my computer. Everything you gather in your travels is contained within the "sandbox" and when I shut down the browser (IE or Firefox) everything gets dumped. No more spyware, ads, or anything. Check it out to see if it's right for you. You can set options. http://www.sandboxie.com/

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SandBoxie is not that great......
by dogteams1 / March 26, 2007 1:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Malware

Vmware is what i use to surf plus find bad sites.....
Once you have VMware Player, you can download and run the Browser Appliance with VMware Player. The Browser Appliance allows users to securely browse the Internet using Mozilla Firefox.
And if you get any bugs they can have a party in Vmware but can't get,out or on your OS...................


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Do use good Surfing habits?
by dogteams1 / March 26, 2007 1:19 AM PDT

1.Surfing habits->Do yu go to trusted sites?
2.Firfox<-Do use Firefox?
3.Are you using the plug-in FireFox called->Quick-Java.
4.Do you keep all your Up-Dates up to date.
I would call the above a start for safe Surfing plus i think this can really cut down on unwanted junk as you call it........
The bad sites are out there waiting for you with thier Script codes....

Dogteams1 RRT Plus CC............

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Yes, to trusted sites
by katiebug57 / March 26, 2007 3:27 AM PDT

I do only open trusted sites. If I'm going to be surfing, I use Sandboxie so that nothing gets stuck on my system. I haven't used it in the past, and that may have contributed to a high number of spyware. Also, of course I use FF!

I'm not familiar with Quick Java, although I know that some "class" forums that I listen to Java comes up, so I'm assuming it is Quick Java.

And yes, I do keep things up-to-date, although that is harder to remember to do that most things.

Thanks to everyone for great responses and help!


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Quickjava is in FireFox its a plug in.
by dogteams1 / March 26, 2007 5:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, to trusted sites

You have to do a search for->quickjava in Firefox.
You will get 2 icons after install 1=java other =javascript.
they will be put on your firefox tool bar all you have to do is,
click on ether one and this will put a red slash J OR JS this will "disable" your java or JavaScript click again and thir turned back on again.Its called protection while searching on the web or a web page.

very cool little plug in.

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Also NoScript extension for Firefox can help
by Donna Buenaventura / March 26, 2007 5:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes, to trusted sites

The NoScript Firefox extension provides extra protection for Firefox, Flock, Seamonkey and others mozilla-based browsers.

It will let you allow, disallow or temporary allow only websites that you want to load javascript, java and flash.

1 icon at lower right side of Firefox to manage the above.
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by katiebug57 / March 27, 2007 12:38 AM PDT

Don't know what scripts are, so don't know if I need the FF ext. you spoke of. I know, I know, I've very ignorant.

Can you help? Thanks.


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A simple answer to that Katie is
by roddy32 / March 27, 2007 1:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Scripts?

a script is a type of computer language. It can be exploited like many other things so if you are using Firefox it is a recommended extension. It's easy to use also and you can allow trusted sites with a couple of clicks. I use it as do most others in this forum that use Firefox.

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If I block scripting...
by katiebug57 / March 27, 2007 1:42 AM PDT

If script is a computer language, won't my blocking it make my computer not work? Or is it used only in certain applications and FF can make up the difference using something else?


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