Saved Mom $450 – Have I redeemed myself?

*Updated at bottom 10/11*

Last month over Labor Day weekend, I was a Bad Daughter. My mom had a hacking cough that I just shrugged off even though my nurse practitioner aunt thought it was worth issuing 2 prescriptions for because, well, she’s a smoker, she always has a freaking cough. Turns out this one was bronchitis and she really wasn’t feeling well. What made me a Bad Daughter? She willingly shuttled me around for my shopping-for-free errands, but got really pissed that I took 20 minutes longer than expected at one of them while she sat in the car feeling crummy, waiting. She told me I should have put her first, not the shopping for other people, and walked out on the deals. She was absolutely right. I felt like a selfish little dookie. Well, I was a selfish little dookie. So I have big plans to shop-for-free on Saturday that would be indescribably easier to execute with my mom, but I’m not sure she’ll ever indulge my shopping habits again and it’s too soon to risk stirring up those rather fresh memories.

However, I did do something incredibly useful tonight. You see, one of the errands we ran during my last visit was a browse through the computer department of Best Buy so she could physically see and feel the difference between a netbook and a laptop. Her current desktop got rather badly infected with a virus/malware/ransomware that, left untreated, shut off her computer within 30 seconds of getting online. This week she asked me to search for a deal on a new tower unit that suited her user style. Uh…okay, like when did I become the tech smart one? I’m just the bargain-smart one, and so she figured I’d know what was worth paying for and how to set it up because I haven’t had a tech issue requiring professional help in 5 years. Okayyyy.

I called her tonight to discuss memory (or whatever the spec-formerly-known-as-RAM is now called) and how it affected the price of the HP systems she was interested in, when she mentioned the name of the malware: Windows Police Pro. I googled it while we were chatting and found sites with free downloads to fix it, but her computer was so far gone that she couldn’t get online long enough to access it. In fact, the virus had found ways to block access to a lot of the fix-it sites. I took the basic gist of what needed to be done and had her do one thing: go into the task manager and delete one file asap. It really shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did – the computer stayed on and online long enough for her to get to the .exe recovery files she needed. She also downloaded the free deluxe McAfee software provided by her ISP and set it to clear out the crap before she went to bed – trojans, backdoors, adware, viral pop-ups, fake task manager, etc.

One of my cousins was supposed to pass on her 2-year-old laptop (she just got an automatic replacement at college) last weekend but hadn’t transferred her music files, which meant no computer for my mom until maybe Thanksgiving. Mom couldn’t handle that. While I’m sure there’s plenty more to be done, she’s just happy to have the internet back and now has no great desire to replace her system. Would you believe she was about 20 minutes from having me order one for her on the spot? Preferably for local store pick-up so she could get back to normal this weekend, she had her debit card in front of her.

So I totally saved her $500 tonight with my guesswork. I rock! And hopefully it will help her forget my Bad Daughter behavior 5 weeks ago so I can visit again one day soon.

10/11 Update:  My mom has decided that even if she’s able to fix the virus, she just doesn’t trust her computer to be safe anymore. She now thinks every scan and every solution she has tried just let in more spyware and ransomware, and she buys things, pays bills online and checks her bank account all the time. To be fair, the machine is nearly 5 years old. Anyway, I’ll be ordering her up a new one (it’s part of my loan repayment from August) through her United Airlines link that will get her 1-2 miles per $1, depending on which store she chooses. She’s fond of the $450 Dell, but I want to run a $250 eMachine with similar specs by her first.

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4 Responses

  1. I highly recommend that your mom install AVG by Grisoft for home use. It is a free and very very good antivirus software that will run updates daily as well as perform virus scans when you schedule them. Also, install Spybot’s Search and Destroy to keep spyware at bay and Adaware to keep cookies out of her computer (software that tracks where you go on the internet and keeps your “information” about what you do on those sites).

    I also recommend that instead of using Internet Explorer, she try Mozilla’s Firefox or Opera for web browsing. IE has a lot of security issues.

    BTW: I teach computers for the military.

  2. way to go MMK!!! of course you rock. we all knew that!

  3. Wow, great job! Even if you saved your mom some money now, she can start saving for her investment later. Personally, I don’t trust eMachines. I had a boyfriend once who had one and it just seemed crappy and definitely less quality. Things went wrong with it all the time. But I could be wrong, or maybe they’ve gotten better in recent years. Good luck! I love Dell, every workplace I’ve been in uses Dell.

  4. I would recommend AVG. I have seen several viruses come through work and home and have not seen one that AVG has been unable to conquer. Best yet, it is my fave four letter word “FREE”. When my mom had this problem, we had a friend burn the file to a CD and then installed it that way.

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