Archive for the ‘PC Maintenance’ Category

How to Know If Your Computer Is Hacked – 12 Signs

Monday, May 10th, 2021

1. You Can’t Access Your OS

True, one of the main reasons you might not be able to log into your operating systems is hardware failure or OS-related issues. But we’re not talking about that. In that case, your computer will generally keep restarting, or you’ll be booted into your OS’ Safe Mode instead.

What we’re referring to is getting a message that outright tells you your OS is locked down, and you won’t be able to access your files. You’ll be told to send a certain amount of money (a few hundred $ or more) to a cryptocurrency wallet address (usually a Bitcoin one), or a PayPal address. The message will state that if you don’t send the money in a certain amount of time, all your data will be wiped.

Sometimes, you might even be able to log into your OS, and see your computer’s desktop. But you won’t be able to do anything on it other than interact with the files left by the hacker, and see the new desktop background photo, which would normally be the message mentioned above.

If you’re in that situation, there’s no doubt that your computer has been hacked. Specifically, it was infected with ransomware – a type of malware that holds your data hostage until you pay up. To find out what you should do in such a scenario, skip to the “What to Do If your Computer Is Hacked With Ransomware” section below.

2. You See a Fake Antivirus/Antimalware Message

While this tactic is no longer as widely used by hackers as it was before, it’s still a sure sign that your computer has been compromised. In fact, the moment you see such a notification on your computer, it’s already too late since the infection has already spread to your OS.

Why do hackers bother with these notifications, then? Well, these fake messages are just the cybercriminal’s attempt at installing even more malware on your device. Alternatively, they might try to trick you into paying money for their “solution.” If you do that, not only will you waste money, but you’ll also have your credit card details stolen.

How do you know the antivirus/antimalware message is fake? Well, the best way to spot the differences is to know what your antivirus/antimalware provider’s notifications and messages normally look like. However, here are some signs that might give the fake message away:

  • You get spammed with messages telling you your computer is infected with malware and viruses.
  • The message has a spammy tone, and the writing contains grammatical errors.
  • The colors of the messages don’t match the brand colors of the legit antivirus/antimalware program you’re using.
  • You’re asked to download free software off the web to solve the security issues.
  • Closing the message by hitting “X” does nothing, or it redirects you to the online page where you’re supposed to download the free “solution.”

3. You Get Bombarded With Pop-Up Ads and Messages

Much like fake antivirus/antimalware messages, random pop-up messages and ads are also a sure sign your computer has been hacked. A normal one just won’t spam you with stuff like that.

Usually, this is caused by adware – malware that infects your computer with tons of ad-related pop-up notifications and messages. The ads you see can be for anything – drugs, medicine, pornography, video games, music, etc. They’ll often contain short, shady links that take you to phishing websites if you click on them. That can also happen if you hit the “X” button to close the message, though.

Also, if you try to close the messages, they’ll just pop up again in a few seconds. That, or new ads and messages will flood your screen whenever you try to close one.

4. You’re Missing Files/Programs and Notice New Ones

If you suddenly can’t find files or programs you knew you had on your computer, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a malware infection. Hackers tend to use malware that gives them remote access of victims’ computers. They then steal any sensitive information they might find (work files, intimate photos, etc.), delete it from the target’s computer, and try to blackmail them with that data. They might also uninstall or disable security programs.

Of course, remote control of your computer isn’t always the cause. Malware like worms and Trojans are also programmed to delete any files they come across to wreak havoc on your computer.

Besides that, you might also notice new programs on your computer, and new icons on your desktop. Those are called PUP (Potentially Unwanted Programs), and are files/programs installed by hackers which contain malware. If you interact with them, or perform any action that triggers their activation, your computer will be infected with even more malware and viruses.

5. Your Browser Has New, Unwanted Toolbars

It’s not hard to spot unwanted toolbars since they tend to clog your browser to the point where they might take up a quarter of the screen or more. Plus, they usually have a spammy design and weird names that make them stand out from normal toolbars – not to mention they try to redirect you to shady websites.

“At least I can easily get rid of them, right?”

Yeah, it’s usually enough to remove them, and reinstall your browser. However, the problem is that if your browser has been tampered with, it’s extremely likely your computer has been exposed to malware infections too.

6. Your Online Searches Get Redirected

If you type in anything in your browser or search engine, and you get redirected to a completely different website, it’s usually a dead giveaway that your computer was hacked. For example, googling “dog food” redirects you to a website about email marketing and lead generation.

This usually happens because a cybercriminal is using malware and security exploits to control where your browser is directing your connection requests. Most of the time, they do this because they are paid to deliver clicks to someone’s website, or because they want to drive a lot of traffic to an ad-infested website to make quick ad revenue.

However, sometimes, a hacker could redirect your browser search queries to a malicious phishing website. In that case, not only will your device be exposed to even more malware, but you’ll also have sensitive information stolen (like your credit card details, email login credentials, or bank account information).

7. Your CPU/GPU Is Being Used at Full Capacity

Having your CPU or GPU “put to work” (so to speak) while playing one of the latest video games is pretty normal, but they shouldn’t be used at full capacity, making very loud noises, and overheating.

If you notice that happening every time you start your computer, there’s a very big chance that it was infected with cryptomining malware. Basically, a hacker is using your computer’s graphics card and/or processor to mine for cryptocurrencies. Not only will that drive up your electricity bill, it can also make your computer slower, and damage your GPU, CPU, and fans through overheating.

You should also become alert if you just notice that your computer case fans are noisier than usual. That can happen if too much dust accumulates, but if you clean your computer, and the noise persists, there’s a chance cryptomining malware is at play. It’s just that the cybercriminal crontrolling it is trying to keep it a secret, so he/she is not using your computer’s full power.

8. Your Contacts Receive Spammy Messages/Emails from You

If your friends, family, or work contacts are asking you about weird messages they received from your email address and/or social media profiles, it’s safe to say you’ve been hacked. The messages might contain shorten, shady links, pornographic content, or might outright ask your contacts to share sensitive information, which will be swiftly stolen.

Basically, either a cybercriminal has managed to take over your accounts, or they released malware in your computer that automatically replicates by sending out malicious messages to your contacts.

Sometimes, the hacker or malware might create tons of spammy posts on your social media profiles that contain malicious links. Anyone that interacts with them will have their own computer infected with the same malware.

9. Your Passwords Are No Longer Working

If you try to log into your email address, social media profile, bank account, or operating system, and get a message telling you the login credentials you entered are wrong, there’s a chance you’re the victim of a cyber attack.

Sure, you might have just entered the wrong password or username, or missed a character or two. That can happen.

However, if you are 100% you’re typing in the correct credentials, the only explanation is that a cybercriminal has managed to take over your accounts, and has locked you out of them. They can manage such a feat by using malware, phishing messages, or exploiting security vulnerabilities to steal sensitive data from you, like usernames and passwords.

10. Your Computer Does Things on Its Own

Is your mouse cursor moving by itself, preventing you from running security scans or interacting with icons on your desktop? That’s likely because a hacker has remote access to your computer, and can control it from the comfort of their own home. Cybercriminals normally manage to do that by infecting computers with Trojans and rootkits.

The biggest mistake you can make in this case is thinking that those “involuntary” actions taken on your computer are just glitches or hardware bugs. If you ignore them, the hacker will likely wait until your computer idles (when you’re not using it, basically), and use it to empty your bank accounts, and steal personal data which can later be sold on the deep web. They might also try to spread the malware to other people in your contacts list – either through email or social media messages.

11. Your Online Accounts Are Missing Money

We’re not just talking about missing $10-$20, though you should definitely contact your payment provider or bank if you notice regular unapproved transactions, no matter how small the amount is.

The classic sign that your computer has been hacked is an empty (or nearly empty) bank account. If a cybercriminal goes through all the effort to hack your device, they’re going to take as much money as they can. So, if you suddenly see you’re missing hundreds or thousands of $, you now know what the main cause could be.

Basically, a hacker might have infected your computer with malware that allows them to monitor your activities – including your keystrokes. Then, they just use that info to break into your accounts, and steal your money.

12. Your Antivirus/Antimalware Program No Longer Works

If your security software has suddenly stopped working, or you just noticed it was disabled, that can be a sign of a cybercriminal having control over your computer. That’s especially true if you can’t start up the antivirus/antimalware program at all, or if it has been uninstalled without your permission.

True, a system restore point could cause that too, but if you’re also not able to start your operating system’s Task Manager or Registry Editor, then there’s no doubt you’ve been hacked.

What to Do If Your Computer Is Hacked – Follow These 7 Tips

Before we get started, we should mention that these tips will only help if you have a second computer or laptop you can use. Of course, it should have no traces of malware infections or hacking activities.

If you don’t have a second device you can use, see if you can use one of your friends’ computers. Just make sure they run an antivirus/antimalware scan beforehand.

1. Isolate Your Computer

First things first, you need to make sure your computer is completely isolated from the Internet. So, make sure you remove all Ethernet cables, and turn off WiFi connectivity. If your device has a switch to turn off WiFi, use that instead of the software switch since a hacker can tamper with that to turn it back on. If you’re worried that your router might have been hacked too, you can disconnect it as well.

Since some malware or viruses can harm your computer even when it’s not connected to the web, we recommend disconnecting the device from the power source too.

2. Remove and “Clean” the Hard Drive

Next, take out the hard drives from your computer, and connect them to the second computer or laptop. Ideally, the device should run a powerful security program, like Malwarebytes and ESET.

We recommend using a USB drive caddy to connect the compromised hard drives to the second device since it’s safer. If you really need to place them in the computer or laptop, make sure they are set to secondary “slave” drivers. Otherwise, they’ll boot up first, and infect the second device with your malicious operating system.

Once you have safely connected the hard drives in the second computer or laptop, run a scan with the antimalware/antivirus program installed on it. Quarantine and delete any infections that are found.

When the hard drives are clean, back up any data you need from them – stuff like work files, personal photos and videos, important documents, etc.

Afterwards, completely wipe your hard drives. It might sound unnecessary after you just ran a security scan and got rid of all malware, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can do that with services like Disk Wipe or DBAN, but you can also check out the other options on this lengthy list.

3. Reinstall Your Operating System and Security Software

After you’re done cleaning the hard drives, it’s time to put them back into your main computer. Once everything is set up, reinstall your operating system.

Once your OS is up and running, install the necessary drivers (motherboard, GPU, CPU, etc.). However, for the moment, we recommend not installing your LAN/Internet drivers yet. Before you do that, install your antivirus/antimalware program first to make sure you have a line of defense when you connect to the web. If you don’t have an installer, just download it on the second device, and put in on a USB stick.

Also, a bit unrelated but still important to mention – in the future, make sure your antivirus/antimalware software is always up-to-date. If it isn’t, it might not be able to keep up with the latest cyber attacks and malware.

When everything is configured, copy all the data you backed up from your hard drives.

4. Contact Your Bank and Payment Processors

If some of your money has gone missing, you need to get in touch with your bank as soon as possible. Let them know what happened, and that a hacker stole money from you. Depending on the situation, your bank might be able to help you recover the funds.

If you use an online payment platform like PayPal or Payoneer, you should contact their representatives as well if money has gone missing from those accounts.

Even if none of your funds are missing, it might still be a good idea to at least give your bank a heads-up that you’ve been the victim of a cyber attack.

5. Reset All Passwords & Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication

Even if your online accounts haven’t been tampered with, it’s still a good idea to reset all your passwords. Ideally, you should come up with strong passwords, and make sure you use a different one for each account. Also, to boost their security, you should change them on a regular basis.

Beside that, you should enable any form of multi-factor authentication on your accounts. The standard is two-factor authentication, where you need to use a randomly-generated code on your phone to complete the login process. That way, even if a hacker manages to steal your password, he/she won’t be able to access your accounts.

However, if your accounts are already compromised, it’s best to create new ones from scratch. It’s a hassle, but it’s much safer to do that.

6. Let All Your Contacts Know About This

Tell everyone (your family, friends, and even work colleagues) that your computer was hacked so that they know to ignore and report any suspicious messages they might receive from your social media and email accounts.

Make sure you stress how important it is to make sure they don’t click on any shady links they might have gotten from you, or open any attachments that were sent to them.

7. Install a VPN, and Use It When Browsing the Web in the Future

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an online service that can hide your IP address and encrypt your web traffic. While it can’t combat malware infections, it can help you secure your traffic while browsing the web.

Basically, if you don’t use a VPN, cybercriminals can exploit WiFi vulnerabilities to monitor your online traffic. By doing that, they can steal valuable information from you – like your login credentials, the contents of your messages, and your credit card or bank account details. With that kind of data, any hacker could easily steal money from you, and hack into your computer.

“But that’s only a risk if I’m using public WiFi, right?’

True, public WiFI is extremely unsafe to use – especially since most networks don’t use any encryption at all. However, your own home network has its flaws too. After all, even if you’re using WPA2, cybercriminals can still crack it with the right cyber attack. And that problem will only be fixed when WPA3 rolls out, but that might be years away.

So, you’re better off just using a VPN on your home computer at all times – alongside a secure antivirus/antimalware program, preferably. If you want to make things simpler, just set up the VPN connection on your router. That way, any time your computer (or any other device) connects to your home network, it will automatically use a VPN connection.

A VPN can make sure you’re always safe on the web by:

  • Encrypting all your data with military-grade encryption.
  • Securing your connections with powerful protocols like SoftEther and OpenVPN.
  • Safeguarding your online browsing from DNS leaks with built-in protection.
  • Ensuring your traffic is never exposed – even if you encounter connection errors – with a high-end Kill Switch.

What to Do If your Computer Is Hacked With Ransomware

Well, let’s address the first thing that’ll go through your head – should you pay the ransom or not? Most security experts advise against doing that since the cybercriminal could have the ransomware delete or refuse to decrypt your data anyway. On the other hand, you might be lucky, and the hacker might hand over the decryption key. Stuff like that has happened before when a hospital chose to pay a $55,000 ransom.

You can also try contacting law enforcement, though you shouldn’t 100% rely on them. How fast your problem is solved depends on how laws treat ransomware situations in your country, whether or not your police force has a dedicated cybercrime unit, and what other criminal issues take priority over your own. Since you’re dealing with a time limit with ransomware, waiting around isn’t really a good option.

So, if none of the options above are something you want to try, you might be successful with the following steps:

  • First, you need to isolate your computer. The moment you notice it’s infected with ransomware, you need to unplug it from the power source, Internet/WiFi network, and any storage devices (like external hard drives).
  • See exactly what kind of ransomware you’re dealing with it. Normally, that should be easy since the ransomware message usually names the infection. If it doesn’t you can try using ID Ransomware or Crypto Sheriff to identify it.
  • Use The No More Ransom Project to see if you can get rid of the infection, and find a way to recover your files without paying any ransom. You can also try using Kasperky’s decryptors to see if any of them help you.
  • If the ransomware only locked your web browser, just open your computer’s Task Manager, and terminate the process for the browser. Restart the system, and run an antimalware scan.
  • If you manage to recover some of the files you need, you should completely wipe your hard drives. You can also get newer ones if you prefer that option. Next, you just need to do a clean install of your operating system. Unfortunately, this might be the only thing you can do if you’re unsuccessful in recovering the data that’s taken hostage too.

Usually, the best thing to do is take preventive measures – use powerful antivirus/antimalware software, avoid phishing messages, and always keep an offline backup of the important data on your computer.

The Bottom Line

Well, first, ask yourself this “is my computer hacked?”

To know that for sure, here are some clear signs you should look for:

  • Random pop-up messages and ads that keep crowding your desktop.
  • Fake antivirus/antimalware messages that claim your system is infected (not far from the truth, to be honest), and that you need to download “free” software by following shady link.
  • Your mouse cursor starts moving on its own, and you notice that some of your files have been deleted or moved to different folders.
  • New programs and icons start appearing on your desktop.
  • There are new toolbars on your browser you never installed.
  • All your Internet searches get redirected to shady websites.
  • You friends, family, and work colleagues say they’ve been receiving weird, spammy messages from your accounts.
  • You can no longer log into your online accounts since the passwords you enter are wrong.
  • Your CPU and GPU start heating up excessively when you start your OS, and they make a lot of noise.
  • Your antivirus/antimalware program no longer works, or has been uninstalled.
  • Money starts disappearing from your online accounts.
  • Lastly, you get a message saying you can’t access your OS or files if you don’t pay a ransom to decrypt them.

If any of those signs are familiar, here’s what to do if your computer is hacked:

  1. Isolate your computer from the web.
  2. Take out the hard drives, and connect them to a second computer/laptop that’s malware/virus-free. If you need to insert the hard drives in the second device, make sure they’re set to be a secondary “slave” driver.
  3. Run antivirus/antimalware scans on the hard drives, recover what data you can, and then wipe them.
  4. Place the hard drives back in your main computer, and reinstall your operating system.
  5. After installing some necessary drivers, install a reliable antivirus/antimalware program. Do that before installing the web drivers.
  6. Contact your bank and the online payment platforms you’re using if money has gone missing.
  7. Let all your contacts know about this. They need to ignore any malicious messages they might have received from you.
  8. Install a VPN on your computer, and use it to secure your online connections in the future.

Now, if you’re dealing with ransomware, your options include paying the ransom, contacting the authorities, or trying to handle things on your own. Unfortunately, the first two options are not always the best ones, and you’re not guaranteed any results. You might be successful on your own (isolating the computer, identifying the ransomware, using The No More Ransom Project or Kasperky’s decryptors to get rid of the ransomware, recovering some files and wiping the hard drives), but you shouldn’t get your hopes too high since it might sometimes be impossible to recover from a ransomware attack. Your best option is to prevent it.ShareTweetLinkedInPin it

Internet Explore Warning!

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

As of 4/1/19 having Internet Explorer on your computer can cause security issues. This applies to:

Windows Server 2019 Windows 10 1803 (tbd, codename RS4) Windows 10 1709 (Fall Creators update, codename RS3) Windows 10 1703 (Creators update, codename RS2) Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary update, codename RS1) / Windows Server 2016 Windows 10 1511 (November update, codename TH2) Windows 10 1507 (RTM, codename TH1) Windows 8.1/Windows 2012 R2 Windows 8/Windows 2012 Windows 7 SP1/Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Windows Vista/Windows 2008.

Until Microsoft issues a patch ( that they seem reluctant to do) It is best to let another browser handle Mht files. You can do this by going to control panel/ Default Programs and scroll down the page (Windows 10) and select “Choose default apps by file type”. Scroll down the left side to .MHT, click on Internet Explorer icon on the right and choose another browser.

The problem is a weakness that exploits the way a browser handles MHTML (MHT) files. This is IE’s default web page archiving format. It  allows the remote attacker to steal local files and conduct remote spying on locally installed information.

04/19/19 UPDATE:

Windows 10, IE and MHT files Here’s an easy way to disassociate Internet Explorer from MHT in Win10:

Step 1: Make sure filename extensions are showing. Click on File Explorer (the icon at the bottom that looks like a file folder), then at the top click View. Make sure the box marked File name extensions is checked.

Step 2: Right-click an empty spot on your desktop and choose File > New > Rich Text Format (actually, any kind of file will work). Windows puts a new file of that type on your desktop, with the name already highlighted so you can change it.

Step 3: Rename the file to wow.mht or anythingelse.mht. Make sure you’ve deleted all of the old filename, including the part to the right of the period. Hit enter. Windows will nag you about changing file name extensions. Click Yes, thank you, Mother Microsoft.

Step 4: Right-click on the newly created mht file and click Open with….

Step 5: Click More apps, then Notepad (or some equally innocuous program), check the box marked Always use the app to open .mht files, and click OK.

Step 6: Test to make sure you’ve subverted MHT files by double-clicking on your desktop MHT file. From that point on, any MHT file will open in Notepad – and the infection cycle has been broken.

Windows 7 and 8.1

The process is more straightforward in Win7 and 8.1. Here’s how: Step 1: Click Start > Control Panel > Programs and under Default Programs click Make a file type always open in a specific program. Step 2: On the left, scroll down to .mht. See how it’s associated with Internet Explorer? Click on mht and click Change program… Windows shows you a pane that’s marked Open with. Step 3. On the lower right, click Browse, navigate to c:\Windows\System32, scroll way down, click on Notepad.exe and click Open. Click OK.

The process is more straightforward in Win7 and 8.1.

Step 1: Click Start > Control Panel > Programs and under Default Programs click Make a file type always open in a specific program.

Step 2: On the left, scroll down to .mht. See how it’s associated with Internet Explorer? Click on mht and click Change program… Windows shows you a pane that’s marked Open with.

Step 3. On the lower right, click Browse, navigate to c:\Windows\System32, scroll way down, click on Notepad.exe and click Open. Click OK.

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) fake virus

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

I have mentioned online frauds like this several times in other posts.

Never, I mean NEVER fall victim to scammers that call you on the phone and say your computer is infected, or your Microsoft license needs to be renewed. If your screen gets a bogus pop up saying you are infected, simply reboot your computer to eliminate the warning. And never let anyone remote into your computer saying they will do a scan to fix your computer. Except, of course, a professional like myself. I can remove viruses and tune up your computer from a remote location. I have provided this service over 10 years and will repair your computer for a fraction of the cost of these  fraudulent support scammers.

This post is about one of the latest scams to take your money. It is called the fake BSOD or Blue Screen of Death virus.

BSOD is a term from the early days of MS Windows. The BSOD was a system crash that led to a blue error screen telling you to shut down. However, this new support fraud instructs you to not shut down, else your data will be compromised, deleted or otherwise ruined.

Out of desperation, many people panic and forget to call me. They dial the displayed toll-free number (toll free telephone? in 2017! Ridiculous) A “technician” answers and instructs you your computer has been infected with malware. They tell you to shut the computer off and contact a certified Microsoft technician for repair. It is explained it would take a week to fix and cost roughly $350. Of course this inconvenience is a lot to ask so, of course, the fake technician states “No problem, we can repair your machine remotely for $250. After the fee is paid ( which compromises your credit or bank card) time passes while it appears the computer is being fixed. In addition to taking money from you, the computer was never infected and the “technician” most likely installed a subpar antivirus program that will allow them to charge you a yearly fee. I had one customer tell me she asked the alleged technician if she was being scammed. The technician replied “No, but you are asking all the right questions” What an honest sounding company, they even said it was not a scam. If it was a scam they would tell you, right? Phony psychological comfort like this puts someone at ease and logic and sensibility get buried.

Remember: No one that ever contacts you via phone or email and says your infected can ever know if you are indeed infected. They are simply gambling with cold calling until they find an uneducated and trusting person. In addition, if you ever get a call saying your MS Windows license is up and you need to renew – this is never true. If they say they are from Microsoft and will clean your computer -this is never true. Microsoft is a software company and they do not clean infected computers. Only third party technicians like myself are qualified to do this work.

If something like this happens to you, call me and I will show you how to eliminate this fake virus. I will charge $25, much less than the hundreds these fraudulent companies charge. Even if you do have an infected computer our charge is $45 to $65 for a remote cleaning. Charging over $200 for a virus removal is ridiculous.

REMEMBER:

Never allow ANYONE to remote into your computer unless you ABSOLUTELY know they are an honest company. Read their website information, Facebook page, and talk to people who have used their service. Online scammers are getting VERY sneaky in their approach to finding was of separating you from your hard earned money.

Also REMEMBER

  • Never call the toll free number
  • Do not click anywhere within the popup window
  • Close the browser from Task Manager
  • Reboot your computer
  • If all fails call me!

Paul – Coast Computing 561.452.6132

7.18.2017

 

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Fixing a Non-Responding Windows 10 Start Menu

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

One of the most anoying bugs in Windows 10 is a non-responding start menu. If you click the start menu and it does not open, here are a few solutions that have worked for me.

Solution 1

  • Launch Task manager

Press the [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] keys on the keyboard at the same time, or right click the Taskbar, and select Task manager.

 

  1. Run a new Windows task

When the Task manager window opens, click the More details option to expand it, then select Run new task from the File menu.

 

  1. Run Windows PowerShell

When the Run new task dialog box opens, type powershell, tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and click OK.

 

  1. Run the System File Checker

Type sfc /scannow into the window and press the [Return] key. The scan may take some time and will end with one of three results. Windows did not find any integrity violations and Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them mean there are now no corrupt files, but Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them indicates a problem.

In this latter case, type (or copy and paste) DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth into the PowerShell window and press the [Return] key. This will download files from Windows Update to replace the corrupt ones and, again, this may take some time.

 

Solution 2:

Reinstall all Windows apps

Downloading and reinstalling all Windows 10 apps reportedly fixes a stuck Start menu. This isn’t as drastic as it sounds — ‘Windows apps’ are the ones built into Windows 10 and available from the Windows Store. They used to be called ‘Modern’ apps and, before that, ‘Metro’ — Microsoft just changed the name with Windows 10.

Better still, the reinstallation is automatic and should only take a few minutes. The process might delete any data you have saved in these Windows apps, though, so backup anything important before you begin.

Apps that store data online, in Microsoft OneDrive or as files in a separate folder (such as the Photos app) should be unaffected.

Warning: Recent reports indicate that this process may cause some Windows Store apps to stop working, so be mindful of this before continuing.

  1. Reinstall Windows apps

Launch the Task manager and open a new PowerShell window with administrative privileges, as explained above.

When the Windows PowerShell window opens copy the line below and paste it into the PowerShell window by simply right-clicking at the blinking PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> prompt, or by pressing [Ctrl] + [V] on the keyboard:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

Wait until the app download and installation process completes — ignore any red text that appears — and restart Windows.

 

Solution 3:

Create a new user account

If reinstalling Windows apps doesn’t work, creating a new user account usually will. If you’re currently using a Microsoft account, your settings will also transfer to the new account once you upgrade it from the default local account. You’ll need to transfer your local files from one account to the other in all cases, though. Your installed software won’t be affected.

  1. Launch Task manager

Open Task manager (see above) and select Run new task from its File menu.

Tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and type net user NewUsername NewPassword /add in the box.

You’ll need to replace NewUsername and NewPassword with the username and password you want to use — neither can contain spaces and the password is case sensitive (i.e. capital letters matter).

 

  1. Log into the new account

Restart Windows and log into the new user account. The Start menu should now work, so you can change the new local account to a Microsoft account, and transfer your files and settings.

 

Solution 4:

Refresh your PC

As a last resort, you can ‘refresh’ your Windows 10 installation, which is much the same as reinstalling the operating system. Your documents won’t be affected, but you’ll need to reinstall any applications that aren’t part of Windows.

 

  1. Restart Windows in Troubleshooting mode

Close any open applications and press the [Windows] + [L] keys to log out of your Windows account — or just restart Windows. On the login screen, click the Power icon at the bottom right, hold down the [Shift] key and select the Restart option.

 

  1. Reset your PC

When the blue Choose an option screen appears, click Troubleshoot, followed by Reset this PC. finally, click the Keep my files option and follow the on-screen instructions.

Run the Anniversary Update

Microsoft rolled out its second major update to Windows 10 in August 2016, known as the Anniversary Update.

The company hasn’t stated whether it would fix any of the Start Menu issues specifically, but a few visual tweaks were made which could iron out the problems.

The Anniversary Update should be rolled out to your machine automatically, but if it hasn’t landed yet you can force it to come through now.

Simply go to Settings and select Update & security.

Then click on the Check for updates button and the Anniversary Update should come through.

Another major update, dubbed the Creators Update, is also due to roll out on April 11. This may also include some fixes for the Start Menu.

 

PF

UNCHECKY

Friday, October 24th, 2014

In following our “Installing programs without installing unwanted malware” posts I have found a program that can help you while installing freeware. Unchecky (www.unchecky.com) is a free app that automatically unchecks every adware checkbox in most installation dialogue boxes. This program will help prevent the unintended installation of adware.

 

Installing programs without installing unwanted malware – Part 2

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Potentially unwanted programs are often proposed during the installation of software. They may be present in the form of toolbars that can change the home page of your browser, which can slow internet searching.

To avoid the installation of these programs polluting your computer, it is essential you follow these tips:

  • Always download a program from the official link, or a trusted site
  • When installing a program, do not click too fast [Next] without paying attention to Terms of Use and third-party programs available
  • If third-party programs are available (toolbars, etc.) uncheck all checkboxes about them
  • Enable detection of PUP’s (Potentially Unwanted Programs) in your antivirus

Installing programs without installing unwanted malware – Part 1

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

In a previous paper we explained companies will try and install unneeded programs within legitimate downloads. This is a classic problem when you install a  program from an internet site.  To generate commerce, other programs are included, by default, unless you specifically act to not install these additional programs. Most of these are rogue programs with hidden  spyware and adware code, others are toolbars from Google or Yahoo.

I have included a typical download from CNET download.com. for an example. This is a popular site for downloading programs to for your PC. In this example we want to download a program called Revo Uninstaller. This is a program for uninstalling programs from your computer, and is a more thorough program than the one included with Windows.

We start with the download link: http://download.cnet.com/3028-2096_4-10687648.html?c=SEMYAHOO&s=fivemill&pid=dlcom_sem&aid=Revo%20Uninstaller%20Free-b&dlc=n&part=fivemill

This brings up the following dialog:

1

Clicking the run control button takes you:

2

We then click next and we go here:

3

If you were to select Recommended Express Installation you will wind up installing numerous unwanted programs. Click the Advanced Installation to view these programs. Always select advanced Installation to monitor and select what you want to install. When we select Advanced Installation we get these entries:

4

Notice there are FOUR additional programs that would have been installed by default!

Uncheck these boxes so it looks like this and select Next Step.

5

Now, this box appears, and it is misleading. It appears you are accepting the Terms of Service for Revo Uninstaller, when you are really accepting to install a program called Wajam. This is nothing more than a social search engine that will spy on your computer use. Select Decline, and the next box pops up with a similar advertisement.

6

7

Again, select Decline or you will install RealPlayer, a program not used since the 1990’s. Your computer already has a media player so you do not need another.

8

Decline this box also. MyPCBackup is a program you do not need.

9

 

FINALLY. The one program you wanted is finally downloading. The next screen that appears, allows you to install the one program you were after.

10

Remember, whenever you install a program from the Internet, always decline unneeded programs and select Advanced Install, if available, so that you do not clutter your hard drive and memory with unneeded programs.

Something new: A new CNET download had the same boxes as listed above, however, the decline button appears grayed out giving the impression it is not available. This is false. You can still click the decline button. It is functional, it just looks like it is not in focus. TRICKY

PF – 6.5.13