Dell reformatting

vala55July 8, 2011

My son just called and is having problems with the Dell PC I bought him. He swears he has a hacker, I think it's probably a virus or he has been going places in the PC he shouldn't. This situation sounds really strange to me.

My question is:

If a hacker get into your computer can you see things being moved?

Can they change your administrator password and lock you out?

Can they come across as MS, pretend to be helping you when you didn't ask for help and give you instructions that lets them in ?

Also, question for Dell users. He got 3 CDs with the PC, can you reformat the PC to like new condition with those CDs?

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A Hacker can do all those things. Those 3 CDs he got are most likely the recovery disks and they should indicate that on the disk. Those disks if they are recovery disks would restore the computer to what we / they call Factory settings just like the computer was when you first purchased it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:04AM
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If this machine has been hacked, then NO ONE should use it for any online banking or shopping or any other function where security is required. In addition, whoever uses this machine better brush up on their knowledge of safe computing, or else they'll encounter similar problems again.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 5:50AM
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Yes use those CDs sudden like and get rid of rid problem. The titles should tell you which to insert first. He will of course lose any data on the computer unless he is able to back it up before re-installing Windows.

He could consider changing the password and use something at least 10 to 12 characters long and a mix of letters and numbers. That might fix the issue.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:26AM
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Thank you very much. I underestimated my son, I didn't believe it was a hacker, it sounded like something out of "NCIS" or "Criminal Mind". This is his first PC and he is learning, but without knowledgeable friends that know about PCs it is difficult to learn. Been there, done that. He said he would try the restore Cds and take it to someone if he couldn't clear it up. I have helped him with basic problems, but I've never experienced anything like that. He is on disability, that is why I bought the PC for him, something to interest him and keep his mind off his health problems. He was afraid someone was doing something illegal through his computer and he would get in trouble. He has never had a checking account in his life and has no money and believe me when I say no one would want his identity.

Thanks for your replies.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:25AM
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I understand fully when you say he has no one local to ask for assistance. Back in the days of the old 286 and onwards computers I too was very alone. Being a pensioner it was not easy to find the young ones willing to talk with some old geezer. As there was no internet with Google it had to be a self teaching experience.

Your son could also do that if indeed he has the interest. Here is a short tutorial. Wiping a computer using recovery disks is very easy to do. There is no searching for drivers and the like as it is all on those CDs. His time consuming tasks will be updating all the Microsoft stuff and installing programs he had but were not supplied with the original purchase.

What ever interests your son has can be found on the internet. Tutorials are out there by the countless thousand and mostly free for almost any subject there is.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:48AM
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has he run his virus scan and maleware scan? before having to reformt he should do that

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Owbist, I remember my first year with a PC and thanks to the Compaq techs for their help and telling me I could not hurt the PC. If I changed something I didn't like, couldn't fix, I could restore my PC. The fear went away and I jumped in with both feet. The techs even helped me with software which they were not suppose to do. Keeping notes also help, now I am back to needing a notebook again, memory problems. Then of course I found this site. I have strongly impressed up on my son to use Google for problems.

Garden....He said he was locked out of his PC.

Later a friend came over who helped him fix the problem. He is still a bit afraid to turn it on. My son is a very intelligent person, just new to computers. I think he was mostly angry that someone could and would do something like this to him, kind of like a home invasion. I explained about a strong password.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:26PM
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I can understand his feelings. It IS almost like a home invasion. I'm not sure how I'd feel if something like this happened to me. Just tell him to be extra careful about clicking on any links either on websites or in e-mails. That's how most of these creeps get into computers. Hope he has a good strong firewall also and that he's not reluctant to deny letting something by the firewall when permission is asked.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 7:33PM
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Once he has used the recovery cds if thats what they are, he will have to reinstall as the updates( with Vista, there is a Service package 1 and numerous updates since then (About 80 if memory serves me and with Win 7, there is also a bagload, dont even want to think if it is XP (3 large SPs plus a whack of updates since SP3). I hope he has had an uptodate antivirus and has been using it..

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 7:36AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

If the Dell is still under warranty, he can call Dell tech support and they will completely walk him through reformatting his computer. I have reformatted with Dell's assistance numerous times, ending up with a 'just like new zippy' computer.

I bought the extended warranty on my Dell which covered up to 5 years on the hardware, and now no longer have to pay for any warranty, but have life time coverage for tech support. The extended warranty was not very cheap, but since my computer is 7 1/2 years old now, and I've not 'had' to spend a cent on it, I feel the warranty cost was well worth it.

I did recently have a local computer repair person install a new drive, and reformat the computer, and he got all the updates and installed all necessary programs. He only charged $50, so I thought that was well worth it for me to not have to spend a lot of time getting all the updates and everything, since my ISP speed is not very fast.

I would not feel very comfortable with trying to attempt to reformat without tech support walking me through everything.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 10:11AM
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I called him to tell him to turn on the PC and put a strong password on windows, but I did not know how to advise him about putting one on the router. I installed my own and the instructions made it easy. He has server called Fios, used to be Verizon, it's fiber optics. He said his router is actiontec m1424-wr rev.f. I don't know if that is right or not. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing a dell reformat, but no problem with HP. I used to do it about once a year to clean up my computer and it was really "zippy" afterwards. He gets his windows updates automatically and knows to update his MS SE. It's difficult to give him instructions, he is 55 years old and I am just Mom. LOL I have advised him to call the server.

thanks guys

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 2:46PM
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I realized I had not told you the outcome of this event. I finally got him to call Dell and I was right it was a virus. They helped him clean it up, then his monitor which was new failed, he called Dell who told him his monitor was bad. BB gave him another and the PC is working fine now. He is a bit more careful now and not trying to do things like streaming until he is a bit more experienced. Anyway thanks for all of your suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:06PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

just make sure he has a functioning firewall set up on the pc too, if it is windows 7 at least have the built in firewall turned on.

I would give him these directions for downloading and installing malwarebytes and have him do the update then full scan with it weekly. Learning that we must keep our systems updated is essential.

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware (Win) - Detecting and Removing Malware

another very easy one to do is the secunia scan nothing to install just go do the scan and fix or update the items it says need updating.
Secunia Online Software Inspector (OSI)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:36PM
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thanks Raven, He is having problems following written instructions and it's not just my instructions. I copied and pasted instructions from the net and he has problems understanding it. He was recently diagnosed with a heart problem and he may have been compromised by a lack of oxygen. He can't understand the simplest instructions, like making a folder. I called him yesterday and walked him through loading songs from a CD, making a folder, etc. He didn't even know what a desktop was, I finally got him to understand that. I think terminology is a problem. I Googled for computer terms last night and after a couple of attempts I found a very good site that had a list of terms and what they mean and very long list of other computer basics. I sent the URL to him and I plan to read there a bit also.

Thanks for Secunia information. When you mentioned it a few days ago I downloaded it for myself. I like it very much.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Vala you really should consider using something like Teamviewer.

You install the program on your computer he joins a session, once it is set up he would have an icon on the screen and so would you. Once connected you can talk to each other and then you can either sit and watch while he does things and prompt as necessary or you can take control using your keyboard and mouse. As a teaching tool it is fantastic. It is also great for fixing computer software issues at remote locations. In your situation you might just find it to be a valuable tool.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 12:00PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I agree I use teamviewer with some of my family members and others that I help, it does work and is free.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:10PM
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Thanks I will give it a try. I am assuming we both have to down load it right?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 2:20PM
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