Readers' Forum - March 2006

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

John writes: I am getting frustrated with a pop-up that comes regularly on to my screen from WinFIXER telling me I have severe faults on my PC and need to buy their product to eliminate the problems or my computer could be severely damaged... Do you advise me to purchase this program?

Jim Breen (from Actrix Support) responds: Hi John, The WinFixer program uses clever business tactics to lure users into buying something that is not necessary. WinFixer gives exaggerated reports of threats on the computer and then prompts the user to purchase a registered version of the software in order to remove the reported threats. Do not purchase the product.

In a few instances, you may be able to remove the program via Windows Add/Remove Programs (go to the Windows Control Panel and click Add/Remove Programs). Look for WinFixer in the list - it is generally towards the end). If you are one of the lucky ones, remove the program, restart your computer and your system should be clear. Be aware however, that WinFixer may have been installed by some other adware program on your computer, so it is possible that it may return.

If Add/Remove Programs wasn't successful in the removal of the WinFixer popup, it is time to clean up your system and use a specially designed spyware removal tool. Step one is to flush out all the temp files on your system: Cookies, Temporary Internet Files and Temp files (you can do this via Internet Explorer's Tools-Internet Options Download, install and run an anti-Spyware program. Click here for some help in that regard.

Mick writes: Rob, For some reason my computer is now opening Internet Explorer pages in minimised mode. Can't think what I have done to cause this, but have to click maximise each time. What can I do to ensure web pages open automatically in the maximised mode? Thanks and regards, Mick.

Alan Jordan, from Actrix Support responds: Hi there Mick, If you follow these instructions, Internet Explorer should start opening up maximised again.

  1. Close all windows except the one that opens minimised.
  2. Right click on your Task Bar and select "Tile Windows Horizontally." The task bar is the grey stretch along the base of the screen.
  3. Internet Explorer will maximise.
  4. Close Internet Explorer.
  5. Re-open Internet Explorer and it should be maximised.

Hopefully this works out for you.

Reg writes: Dear Rob, I am thinking about upgrading my computer and have a couple of questions. Is it ok to onsell my present system with the bundled software that came with it when I originally bought it? Before I onsell I plan to save all my personal data and then reformat the hard drive. I read somewhere recently that reformatting the hard drive is no guarantee that personal passwords and visa account numbers would no longer be on the system and for anyone with the right expertise they could find them embedded in the system. The article also said that there is some software available that can wipe all of this personal data from the hard drive prior to reformatting, is this correct, and where would I get hold of a copy? Many thanks

Hi Reg, These aren't really net-related questions, but they're useful all the same, so I'll make a few quick comments.

Firstly, yes, it is quite okay to leave bundled software on the computer when you sell it, or pass on the disks and manuals etc if you've re-formatted the hard drive. You aren't allowed to make and keep copies for yourself, though.

You've heard right in that formatting a machine is no real guarantee that some enterprising future owner won't be able to retrieve your data. Most people wouldn't bother, but you just never know. Reformatting doesn't really erase very much at all. Programs called disk sanitisers can be purchased that actually over-write everything on your hard drive with random information. They'll also over-write it several times to remove what's called "magnetic residue" which could theoretically allow retrieval of information that has been over-written. One such tool is available free from www.killdisk.com.