Desires and Viruses (Of The Computer Variety)

Let’s be honest here, we’re all human. As much as we want to stay on track with our financial goals, wants still pop up. Logical or not, we all have things we desire.

A year ago I posted about my desire for a new computer. I was at my wit’s end with my personal laptop. I’m typically a very cautious person when it comes to my online use. Yet, somehow, I’d managed to get a virus. Or what I’m calling a virus anyways. Commercials would pop up in a little boxes at the bottom of my browser. At first I just had to find the right window, and close it out. But, eventually, the videos wouldn’t close until they’d played for 10 seconds. Which, in download time, was usually much longer. Add in the variety of other pop-up ads, little ad bars that blocked my screen, and all the other advertisements that were crowding out my screen and slowing things down, and using my laptop for anything became an exercise in frustration.

I tried virus scans and every other free software to try cleaning up my laptop, but no luck. Then I thought I’d finally gotten a break: I found the name of the virus! I had somehow managed to get the Playtopus Virus. I started Googling, looking for some way to rid myself of the virus. One tip led me to finding the virus in my programs and uninstalling it. It seemed so simple! And didn’t work. Waa waa! Most of the other hints involved expensive virus programs. I only paid about $350 for the laptop to begin with, I wasn’t about to spend hundreds of dollars for software that may not even work.

I convinced myself that the best option was to just buy something new. Maybe I’d buy an iPad? After all, Apple products are known for being less prone to viruses. But still I waited. And stewed. As much as I thought it would be money well spent, I just couldn’t see parting with hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for a new computer. But my laptop was such a pain to use! I found myself using it less and less, relying on my phone and work computer for most of my needs.

Over a year passed with me “making do” with my infected laptop. But when the boyfriend lost his job, we were suddenly down to one computer. Buying a new computer just wasn’t a priority, at least not until we got things figured out. But the issues became that much more frustrating with two people using the laptop. And I constantly worried that the virus might be more than just annoying; with every online account check I worried about what type of information we might be sharing. It was time to get more serious.

I tried the antivirus/malware/adware route again. Hours downloading and running programs. No luck. So, I went back to Google. This time, I hit the jackpot! Removing the Playtopus Program from my computer had been a great first step. But that didn’t remove the program from my browser. Hidden in the settings of Chrome, under the extensions, sat the active copy of my virus. I clicked delete, and it was gone!

Not only did I find how to get rid of the program, I also found out how I got it in the first place. Apparently some software companies are paid to bundle products from other companies with their own products. When you download a free program online, there’s a chance that you could be downloading more than just the program you thought. What program had bundled the lovely Playtopus with it? No idea! I usually only download things that are common and well-known. Think iTunes, or Chrome, things like that. I may not know exactly how I got the virus, but at least I know how to prevent getting it (or something similar) in the future. Apparently it’s best when downloading a program (especially a free one!) to do the custom install. That way you can deselect any programs that have been added on that you don’t recognize.

It’s been a couple of days now, and everything seems to be running smoothly. I’m officially virus free! I’m hopeful this will be a good things; Maybe I can get back to writing more in the evenings, instead of browsing Facebook/Pinterest on my phone while we watch TV! At the very least, I’m happy to have my laptop back in working order. And to have saved myself a bundle of money!

– Cindy W.


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