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January 17, 2017

System Restore to the Rescue – Maybe

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

My mom called in a panic. She thought she was visiting Google Maps, but instead she opened another web page, downloaded a program, and suddenly Google Chrome had been hijacked. The start page had changed. And any websites she wanted to visit were redirected elsewhere. It was a nightmare.

All the time on the phone, Mom kept saying, “I’m smarter than this!”

And I’m smarter too, but I goof up as well — especially when I’m in a hurry. Just the other day I got an email from “Apple” asking if I just logged into my iCloud account. Whoa! I clicked the link, but was able to cancel the page before it loaded. Yeah, I’m supposed to be way smarter than that!

Anyway, I’m loathe to troubleshoot over the phone. It’s not my thing. At a PC, I can look at this or that and undo whatever damage spyware has done. (I did it myself two years ago.)

What Mom needed to do was to reset Chrome. I could do it if I were there: You visit the Chrome Settings screen and disable whatever has loaded itself. Then, as a follow-up, you need to restart in Safe Mode and check the list of startup programs to ensure that whatever nasty thing had run isn’t waiting to start again. That’s a complex process, and I wasn’t about to dictate how it works over a phone line.

An easier approach would be to run System Restore. While that may not fix the problem, it was worth a shot.

After working impatiently with my mom (again, I’m loathe to troubleshoot over the phone), we got System Restore to pop-up on her PC screen. And she read me what it said, which was, “Would you like to turn on System Restore?”


For some reason, System Restore was disabled on her PC. Now the spyware she installed might have done that, if it’s really nasty. But most of the annoying things you accidentally download aren’t that evil, just annoying. Still, I was disappointed that we couldn’t try System Restore and hopefully make Mom feel good for giving it a go.

On your PC, check to confirm that System Restore is active:

  1. Tap the Windows key to pop-up the Start menu.
  2. Type System Restore.
  3. Choose System Restore from the search results to launch the program.
  4. Confirm that it’s active; if not, activate it.

System Restore is covered in my Troubleshooting books. Mom had a copy of PCs For Dummies, but for some stupid reason I don’t cover the program in that book. (That’s going to change.) You can work through the wizard once the program is configured. Set a restore point before you alter the computer or install new hardware. Use a restore point to bring the system back should something bad happen, such as you were in too much of a hurry to download something.

Yeah, that even happens to smart people who should know better.

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