I am sick of spending so much time trying to fix my computer and end up spending so much money to get it fixed. So I think it might be useful to document what has happened.
Symptom#1: Google search hijack on Firefox browser – when I click a link in search results, it redirects numerous times to many different websites. I had to keep hitting the “Back” button numerous times to get to where I want to go.
Symptom#2: the memory usage of explorer.exe grows fast – it starts at around 20K at a fresh restart, and can grow to exceed 1 MB in a couple days. This can be seen in the task manager. So for a temporary fix, I end the task, and start it again. (As far as I know all the file does is to manage your desk top icons, etc.)
Solved – so I found this forum where someone offered a solution: go to the firefox extension folder and delete some files. This worked for me for a few days and the nuisance came back while the deleted files did not!
While I can still barely tolerate the symptoms, my computer cannot. After a virus scan, it refused to boot up even into the safe mode. This is about the 99th time when I wonder if I have a problem with my hard drive. The safe mode boot stopped at loading 3rd file.
I connect my computer to my laptop and the Windows security detected a virus and removed it. The above symptoms are finally gone after installing the Rootkit TDSS killer after 3 months of misery.
Symptom#3: Reboot comes up with total blank screen with a non-stop continuous beeping. Again, the hard drive has died?
I had to bring my computer to my friend who operates a repair store. She had to ask her technician to fix the problem.
After that, I end up with like 5 free anti-virus software installed on my computer, including combofix.exe, eset scanner, etc. I am not so impressed by AVG, malwarebyte’s anti-malware, or super anti-spyware. combofix from bleepingcomputer.com seems efficient. Still it did not seem to clean my computer thoroughly.
Symptom#4: After the fix of symptom#3, my computer keeps saying that my Windows are not genuine! I called Gateway, who told me to call Microsoft, who told me to call Gateway.. you know how to goes!
I finally found a tool online that can find your Windows key on your computer. Evidently, the virus (fix) destroyed the path to the Windows key.
According to my friend, the free ones are better (than e.g., Norton anti virus).