Maybe this is worth a sticky?
You want to back up anything that you would like to keep.
Photos of your boss in flagrante with a Llama
If you've got a CD Burner, and pretty much any computer worth saving does,
then you're probably good to go. Just keep making CDs until you've got
everything. Make sure you try them in another computer before you count
on them to make sure they burned properly. Don't trust your CD burning
program when it says they were completed without error.
The Less Cheap:
If you have a huge amount of data, (dozens of CD's worth) you can either go
DVD if you have a burner, or it might just be cost effective to buy a new
hard drive. (This also has the added advantage that if your current install
is doomed, then you can just install to this and copy.)
You can purchase a full blown tape backup system if you want to go really
nuts. DLT and AIT4 goes to like 300G on a single tape. Go all Bill Gatesian
and get a tape robot!
Salvage or Heave?
Now that your data is safe, you can figure out whether you can salvage or
heave the box (reinstall from scratch)
First you want to try a manual cleaning.
Download, Install, and Run a full scan of Ad-aware
Download, Install, and Run a full scan of Spybot S&D
Download, Install, and Run a full scan of McAfee Viruscan
You really should subscribe to this as well. That way your computer is kept
up to date with virus definitions. (Similar to stopping in every year to get
a flu shot. Flu evolves, and so do virii. Don't trust a flu shot or a virus
scanner that is out of date!)
Hit Windows Update and
patch everything. Whenever windows asks you to reboot, go back to the windows
update site and keep going until it can't find any more patches for you.
Well, did that work? Is your computer fast and fully functional? No? Well
there could be other reasons.
First, are you loading up a lot of crap? Check your tray in the bottom right
hand corner. There should be no more than a dozen icons, almost all of them
controlling various pieces of hardware. Each of those programs needs uses
memory while running, and some of them CPU.
Also, some of those programs are what I call 'semi-benign'. For instance,
Weatherbug may seem innocuous at first,
but this is ad-ware. They have no compunction about blasting you with ads.
First, try removing anything you don't think is 'crucial' software.
Start Menu->Settings->Control Panel->Add or Remove Software.
Go through that list. If you don't recognize it, ask about it, or flat out
remove it. Be Ruthless. Be twice as ruthless on ANY software that may have
been downloaded off the net. You don't need 'online tetris' type crap.
Grab a copy of Hijaack This
Post your logfile (after reading all of the important sticky threads) to the
Hijack This Forum
Process Table Grinding
Control-Alt-Delete, and choose Task Manager.
Click on the Processes Tab, and then google up
any unfamiliar entries. <a href="http://www.wintasks.com">WinTasks</a> has
a lot of them documented and can generally point you in the right direction.
If all else fails. Reinstall Windows.
(You did back up earlier right?)
Some interesting and useful links.
Ultimate Boot CD, handy Tool