Windows 98 And McAfee AntiVirus - A Computer Problem
It was 6pm on a Tuesday evening. As usual, I find myself faced with a few extra hours of "overtime" at the office in which I freelance. I had actually completed my work but there had been some intermittent problems with a computer virus and I had been volunteered to handle the job.
The office has 3 computers networked together. No sooner had we gotten rid of the virus on one computer, it will reappear on another computer. We were trying to figure out the root source, whether it was the CDROMs, or the floppy disks, or the portable hard disk. We eventually decided not to network the computers and the problem went away, but that's another story.
Samantha, the office slave driver and all round good friend, had left the office at 5.30pm to attend her part time classes at the local college. Her workload was exceptionally heavy those few days and she would be back at 9.30pm to continue her work. She asked me to get rid of the virus on her computer for her. By 9.30pm, she wants the virus to be nothing but a bad memory.
It doesn't matter that we had been trying to get rid of it for weeks to no avail. She thought that I can get rid of it in 3 and a half hours. But that's Samantha for you. Looking at it from the positive side, she must have thought that I'm a miracle worker.
And the thing about Samantha is that she doesn't demand, she asks. So I decided to do the best that I can to banish the virus once and for all.
We had been using an online virus checker from TrendMicro, but it took forever to load and run. So I decided to install McAfee AntiVirus on her computer.
The installation went smoothly. It automatically restarted the computer and that was when the problem started. The computer froze in the middle of loading Windows 98. I didn't panic since that happens sometimes so I just booted up the computer again.
And the computer froze again! I was starting to get hot under the collar. I tried it a couple more times and the exact same thing happened.
The computer will first boot normally, displaying the boot up information like how much memory it had, what hardware peripherals were installed, etc. Then it would go to the Windows 98 full screen graphic. When Windows 98 is loading, there will be a narrow bar along the bottom of the screen that indicates the loading progress. The progress bar will move, sometimes erratically, during the loading and eventually you will see your desktop.
On that evening, the Windows 98 progress bar will move a little and then stop. And that was it. Minutes will pass and nothing will happen. And I could do nothing else with it. My only choice would be to restart the computer.
I tried restarting the computer in safe mode so that only a limited amount of drivers would be loaded. No luck. The computer still refused to load beyond the Windows 98 graphic.
I tried calling a friend. His solution was to reinstall Windows and if that fails, to reformat the hard disk.
I had no time or inclination to do any major surgery. Samantha was going to be back in one or two hours and she was expecting a disinfected computer, humming smoothly along. And she did ask me to do a defrag of her hard disk while I'm at it. So she was expecting a fast computer as well.
I could imagine her reaction when she walked in....actually I can't. I have never seen that girl get mad before. I hoped she doesn't throw things.
Anyway, preparing for the worst, I booted up from DOS to see what I can do to backup her files before I did something drastic. It was by chance that I took a look inside her autoexec.bat file. It seemed the McAfee had placed a line in that file. That line points to a program from McAfee that will run before the loading of Windows. On a hunch I commented out the line so that the program won't run during boot up and restarted the computer.
Windows 98 worked perfectly fine. I tried it one or two more times to be sure and things went as expected.
To this day I still have heart palpitations whenever the progress bar on a computer screen freezes. It brings me back to that day when I nearly found out what Samantha is like when she's mad. And I still wonder if she throws things.