My wife's friend Shari belongs to that infamous 1D10T usergroup. She has an old 17.3 inch Dell laptop she got from the Shopping Channel hooked up to an equally ancient HP LaserJet M1212 printer. The laptop has a 2013 AMD Piledriver A8 APU and 8 GB of RAM.
All was OK until Shari fell for a "Your computer is blocked. Call Microsoft Windows service" scam. She paid some nimrod to install remote access, shut down her antivirus, and generally bork her system. When I got it, all you could do was start up and shut down again. Any other attempt to do anything just froze into a hard lockup.
Shari figured she was due for a new system anyway so she was off to Staples while I struggled with the old one, I got into Safe Mode and ran a remote virus scan to clean off the trojan. Then I edited the registry to get Windows Defender running. But the system was destroyed.
This Dell had an early version of EFI but any attempt to boot from a Windows 10 image on USB failed. It just didn't recognize the flash drive. I tried a reset from Windows Recovery and that failed. After repeated boot failures I was able to get into the setup, disable Safe Boot - and then finally booted to Linux Mint on a USB drive. From there I was at least able to get into her hard drive and copy off her data.
Shari arrived back with a new Acer Aspire 3, so we spent the rest of the evening getting it set up and upgraded to Windows 11. While that was going on I went ahead and installed Linux Mint Xfce on her old Dell and copied back her data to both machines.
Today we took both laptops over and installed them on her wifi network. Fortunately, she never had changed the gateway password. But I could not get the old printer installed on Windows 11 - didn't know its IP and Windows couldn't identify it. In desperation I booted up the Linux Mint Dell laptop and had the printer installed and running in 30 seconds - bless you HPLIP! That at least confirmed it was on the network.
Back to a browser and a visit to the router where I was able at last to get the IPv4 of the printer. Once I visited this address in the browser, I got a chance to install the HP drivers on Windows 11, and the printer was alive.
All this troubleshooting, virus removal, BIOS futzing, data recovery, upgrading, Linux install, network analysis, and printer installation took a total of about 12 hours over two days in two different venues. And then some people wonder why I think that computers are too difficult for the average user. Besides that these "Microsoft Windows" technicians are bad dudes.
That was definitely a nightmare! I hope you gave Shari some helpful hints so that she can leave the 1D10T user group, especially since that scam has been around for so many years.
I told her to give me a call if she runs into a situation like this in future. We could have prevented a lot of aggravation here.
On the bright side, she now has a new Windows machine that should last a while, plus a Linux backup device. And I got a chance to keep my mind active.
Your mind was beyond active! If she had taken the laptop to a repair shop, they wouldn't have gone to the level you did of first getting her data off the hard drive and then creating the backup.
I always enjoy reading about your computer stories, Ray. You'll always have "customers".
My husband tells more than a few people that if it wasn't for me, he would not be using a computer! He realizes it is hard to stay safe.
At least he knows not to click on anything so I don't have to clean scum off his two computers. He even calls me if he gets a popup about malwarebytes downloading and installing an update. I'm glad he is over cautious. It saves me lots of headaches.
For sure, keeping computers running smoothly keeps the brain active.
Well I guess Shari stories will replace my Lillian stories.
Interesting how over the years my "customers" have gone from requests like "install Google Chrome" to "nothing works on my network since I got a new router."
Networks are hard! I remember asking so many questions at Scot's when I finally got broadband and didn't understand a thing about wireless and a router! I drove more than a few people there crazy with my questions.
Every time I bring a new device into the house (phone, android tablet, Kindle, wifi printer) I run Nirsoft's wnetwatcher
so I can "see" the device and its MAC address so I can write the info down. Then I turn my security measures back on.
Thankfully we don't have a "smart" home. We don't own smart tvs, voice activated tv remotes, light bulbs that connect to the internet or any devices that you speak to. Any one of those things adds to the complexity of a home network.
My home isn't too smart either. All we have aside from computers is a wireless printer and a Roku streaming box. My TV is totally dumb and needs Roku.
I am all for avoiding smart devices. Life is complicated and invasive enough without your appliances and electronic doodads gathering information about you 24/7.
The only smart thing I have in my house is the A/C thermostat. Interestingly, I just switched internet providers and this one is incompatible with the A/C thermostat software. Only phones, computers and a printer are using the network here.