Rogue Software

by Jonathan Gennick

I'm upset. The other weekend I spent a goodly number of hours rebuilding my
daughter Jenny's laptop PCafter a hard-drive failure. She then took it back
to school, plugged it into the school's network, and ZAP! Within minutes her
laptop was infected with some rogue program (a worm?) that slows everything
to the point of being unusable.


Gee, uh, thanks Microsoft, for making that possible.


Now I'm faced with the joy of a weekend trip to the school, to diagnose and
repair the problem. At least I'll get to visit with my daughter. That's the
one bright spot in all of this.


I must confess, that I may be partly to blame for the fix Jenny is in. While
rebuilding her operating system and software, it was on my mental-checklist
to redownload all the latest Windows updates, and to enable Windows XP's built-in
firewall. Somehow though, in the heat of installing and configuring all her
other software, I neglected those two, important items. She did have Norton
Anti-Virus installed, running, and up-to-date, but whatever hit her at school,
Norton failed to stop it. Bummer.


She could switch to Linux, or perhaps I could scare up the cash to buy her
an Apple Powerbook, but neither of these is likely to happen for a variety of
reasons. For one, her school recently reconfigured its firewall to insist that
any client connecting to the Internet be running McAffee. I'm not sure how that's
done, nor whether there's a way around it for non-Windows users.


More likely, I'll just fix this one problem, enable the firewall, download
those Windows updates, and hope that's enough to hold back the storm. (People
will criticize me for that, I'm sure) In the meantime, if you happen to recognize
the symptom of a PC booting normally to a login prompt, and then slowing to
an absolute crawl after login, let me know, would you?


8 Comments

anonymous2
2003-10-16 09:30:30
I'm Familiar With This Problem
It's called Windows!
Jonathan Gennick
2003-10-16 10:30:52
I'm Familiar With This Problem
LOL!
kollivier
2003-10-16 10:32:33
Windows XP always slows to a crawl on startup
Seriously, I have two Windows XP machines and they basically don't load *anything* until you log in, to make it seems like the machine is speedy to boot. The downside is that once you login, you see your desktop in front of you, but you can't click on it or do anything for over a minute, sometimes 2-3. It's completely frozen because of everything that's loading. Now, an "out of the box" XP install won't do this, but after installing all my programs and utilities, it seems to absolutely crawl on a PIII 700/800 Mhz. After a few minutes, the performance is still slow but it is acceptable.


The only advice I have is to disable as many startup items as possible! I'm about to do a clean install of one of my machines, but I'm starting to think (from your situation) that may not solve the problem...

kollivier
2003-10-16 10:34:43
Windows XP always slows to a crawl on startup
Oops, meant to say that an out of the box XP machine "doesn't (usually) perform this poorly" - not that it won't wait until login to load everything.
Jonathan Gennick
2003-10-16 10:57:56
Windows XP always slows to a crawl on startup
I think what my daughter is experiencing is different from what you describe. She's used this Thinkpad for half-a-year now. Whatever is happening now certainly doesn't fit her normal experience, else she wouldn't be nagging me about it. I probably need to get more details on what exactly it was that happened when she plugged it in to her school network to make her believe she was hit by a worm. But to here her talk, it sounds like the machine is so slow after login as to be virtually unusable.


Unfortunately, I can't talk to her to get more details until rather late this evening.

Jonathan Gennick
2003-10-16 10:59:59
A different sort of pause, Windows XP always slows to a crawl on startup
BTW, you mention a pause after login. On my own notebook, I often get a long, long lock-up whenever I open the folder in which I keep all my writing projects. Only after a half-minute or minute of watching the disk grind am I able to click on subfolders. It's another "Windows-weirdity" that I've never been able to diagnose.
Jonathan Gennick
2003-10-16 14:31:53
"O'Reilly is faster than Windows"
My daughter just read this weblog entry, and she sent me the following email:



i went to the site and saw the response. wow, that quick?? AMAZING!!!
oreilly is faster than windows! (put THAT into your oreilly comercial)


Well, I can't add anything to that.


She then passed on the following details:



well my notebook IS slower here but this time it was so slow i coulnd't
get passed the "password confirmed" part. then it shows me a picture of a
map which always blinks right before it loads my desktop, only i waited
like 10 mins. and it still wouldn't work.
Jonathan Gennick
2003-10-16 14:32:31
"O'Reilly is faster than Windows"
Oh, uh, I guess html tags don't work in replies. Sorry 'bout that.