I logged off the computer, went to see Hail Caesar (some moments of brilliance but basically didn’t work, grade of C), came home, logged onto the computer… like you do.
The first indication I had a problem was the notification and spinning color wheel informing me it was re-configuring Windows. Um, say what? I’d unchecked the auto-updates to avoid being slammed with the upgrade to Windows 10 (though it didn’t stop the increasingly obnoxious pop-up threats). Figured the damn program had found a way to over-ride my wishes – wouldn’t be the first time.
When the dust settled, my entire system had been reset back to “new out of box, your gateway to a fresh new hell awaits” screen. What didn’t appear were my document folders (the entire library including One Note – all empty or just not there), photos (with all the book covers and paid for photographic content), Microsoft programs, log-in IDs and passwords… Gone, all gone.
I panicked, like you do. In fact, it was on the order of an epic meltdown. Yes, I had backups, yes I’d lost a bit over the 4-5 days worth of new items added but nothing that couldn’t be reconstructed. What I lost was the organization and the feeling of security because what had invaded my system wasn’t the egregious bullying to load Windows 10 but rather a nasty-assed virus that repeatedly wiped everything each and every time I shut the computer down.
Of course, the files weren’t actually “lost” but they were damn near inaccessible as anyone who struggles with the insanity of Windows 8.1 understands. I found them after 3-4 hours of backbreaking effort, lots of there-there, it’ll be OK, Mom from my daughter, and pauses to watch Downton Abbey.
After a restless night twitching to do something, anything dammit! I hied to Staples and enlisted the help of one of their competent young fellows who immediately activated a scan to see what was going on. The log in fought him, denying access, calling him names, offering up more threats. He overcame, got the system up in safe mode (sheer wizardry I swear!) and lo ‘n behold there it was – my Library, all the document files, the painstaking organization, right there.
I would have hugged him if I could but… well, there’s a reason for the high counters and other barriers.
The scan eventually pinpointed two access points via FireFox in addition to four malware type files that probably entered via one of the FaceBook click-bait posts. In discussion groups, we’ve been bemoaning the pop-ups demanding you sign up to the website or informing you that you’ve exhausted your viewing privileges and it was time to pay the piper… all with the ever-evasive little “X” box that’s sometimes impossible to click on. And sometimes when you do, it’s a free access point to download malicious software.
The tech and I agree – that’s what happened in my case. So Face Book users: beware those posts in your newsfeed. They aren’t what they seem!
The ‘Puter is in the ER getting a full scrub. Fortunately the backup I did the day of the drama is in an isolated folder so once I have my system back, unsullied, I can delete it and avoid any possible hangers-on.
In the meantime, I’m using a wee Samsung notebook running Windows 7! Oh joy to the world, how I’ve missed this OS. Nevermind mind it’s an 8″ screen! Nevermind I haven’t used it since 2011 and had to bring it up to snuff which took… oh hell, I dunno how many hours, but at least I’m back online. Unproductive, but connected.
Hopefully I’ll get the big boy back today, with a fresh coat of paint, an upgrade to the newest and bestest anti-virus software, and a new appreciation for the 17″ screen (so I don’t have to squint so much).
Honest-to-Pete, I had done it all right: backups in multiple places, Norton and Symantec installed and used regularly to ferret out the nasties, but it only took one especially virulent species to knock my whole world askew, wasting time and a not inconsiderable outlay of $$ to repair the damage.
Oh yeah, I asked the nice young man to upgrade me to Windows 10 after he explained what he found to be superior to 8.1 – he won me over. And by having him do it, I will be assured of it being done right, rather than me fumbling through stuff I don’t understand.
I’ll let y’all know how that goes, but for now…
Peace. And a bracing libation.