Yesterday, when I got home, Karin was playing on the computer. I kicked her off for a bit to check email and catch up on some quick online errands, and then we went to the store and then came home and had dinner. After dinner, she went back to finish her last half hour of play, and couldn't log in. I tried, but I couldn't log in either. So I logged in as an administrator but quickly discovered that I couldn't access the Internet at all, couldn't send or receive emails, couldn't even OPEN several programs such as IE or the McAfee anti-virus program...hmmm, what to do?
I called Anders in Italy and he walked me through restarting the modem and the wireless to see if that was the problem. I pulled out my work laptop and got it up and running on the wireless, but still couldn't get the home PC to behave. So I sent an urgent HELP message to my friend Russell in Dallas, who has helped me on numerous occasions with tech problems and he was kind enough to sit with me on the phone for an hour or so while we grew increasingly concerned over how bizarre the computer was behaving and the fact that nothing he tried led anywhere. It was like the computer was completely shut off from online access AND as if something was seriously borked somewhere. We couldn't get System Restore to work, nothing. It was like things had been wiped out.
We hadn't downloaded or opened anything in the time between when I had come home and everything was working to after dinner when it suddenly wasn't and Russell said he didn't think it was a virus because usually the first thing viruses try to do is get online and spread, but this was doing the opposite. After an hour, Russell was at a loss as to what else to try and finally suggested that we try reinstalling Windows, which would mean having to reinstall all our applications afterward. This meant I'd have to wait until Anders got home from Italy where he's been the past two weeks, because I have no idea where the disks are.
So I thanked Russell and hung up with him, and then called Anders and told him the bad news, that something was seriously wrong and that we'd have to try reinstalling Windows to see if that worked. And then I hung up with him and posted on Facebook about the horror of my PC dying and a few minutes later an old friend commented on my post: "You're not, by any chance, running Windows XP, are you?"
"Yes," I answered, "Why?"
"Do you have McAfee running on it as well?" he responded.
"Yes, I answered again, "WHY??"
And he sent me a link to a news article on Huffington Post which said, MCAFEE UPDATE GOES BERSERK, SHUTS DOWN MILLIONS OF COMPUTERS WORLDWIDE.
So the anti-virus program that is supposed to protect our computer had rendered it, along with millions of others around the globe, unusable. It had sent an automatic update which had created a false-positive on a critical system file, then deleted it and shut itself off from access. Completely.
I called Russell back and excitedly told him the news: "It's not just me!" And then we spent another almost 2 hours on the phone trying to get the McAfee workaround to actually work. I couldn't drag or drop files, I couldn't copy and paste them. I didn't have the folders or sub-folders that McAfee said I should have to put their fix-file into. I couldn't get McAfee to open or behave or anything, and when I finally DID get the file in place and ran it, it gave me error messages and didn't work. I couldn't even uninstall the damn program!
Finally, with Russell's help, we decided the only thing to do was delete/rename all the folders and files that had to do with McAfee, then ZIP and extract the critical system file from my laptop back where it belonged on my PC and ta-dah! It worked! During the course of the approximately 4 hours this was going on, I must have rebooted my computer 42 times. GAH.
Except at dinnertime, Anders called, and his flight home tonight? Canceled.
He was told that Copenhagen Airport is closed again, though I can't find any info to that effect on the airport's home page or in the news. The earliest he can fly out, assuming it doesn't get canceled too, is tomorrow evening.
Oh, and it snowed twice yesterday.
Happy Earth Day, anyway!