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Issue #193: April 03, 2011

Q: When I boot-up my PC, running Windows XP Professional, at the conclusion of the boot it automatically goes to Internet Explorer. However, before my Home Page appears, it transfers to a Trend Micro page that is an ad for an anti virus program. How can I get rid of this annoyance?  Your help will be greatly appreciated.

– Jack P.
Santa Rosa Beach, Fla

A: Sorry for taking so long to get to your question, Jack.  There have been a lot of good ones in my e-mail lately, and I have such limited space in which to write.  Speaking of which…  It sounds like something has put a shortcut into your system startup.  These can be tough to track down, because some of them are well-hidden within the system registry.  But here are the easy places you can look without a lot of system knowledge, and without risking damage to your configuration:  Click on your system’s “Start” button, and under “All Programs” locate a folder called “Startup”.  This contains a list of things that Windows is supposed to execute when it starts.  If there is an internet shortcut to Trend Micro in there, there’s your culprit.  A more complicated option is to click “Start” then “Run…” and enter “MSCONFIG”. Go to the “Startup” tab and review all the entries there.  I’ve heard that Trend Micro used to be called “SpySubtract” so look for entries for either of those and disable them if you find them.  If neither of these offers relief from your pop-up, your system needs Registry work that is beyond the scope of what I can provide in my column.

Q: I have a few-years-old Toshiba Satellite Laptop running Win XP Media Center Edition. I recently had a problem serious enough that it required me to erase the hard drive and reinstall Windows.  Everything was running fine for a few months and then, for no reason I can explain, I turned it on one day and was greeted with a Logon to Windows box which calls for the username and password. When it comes up the username is already filled in. Since I never assigned a password to this machine, the password box is blank.  If I click on okay, the computer will boot without further ado. While this is not that gutwrenching a problem, it is a nuisance inasmuch as I can’t turn the machine on, go get a cup of coffee, and return and find the thing booted and ready to go. I assume one of the Windows’ updates caused this to happen and I would like to get rid of it.

– Bill I.
Shalimar, Fla

A: Easy enough, Bill!  Click “Start” then “Run” and type in “control userpasswords2” (without the quotes, of course, and with a single space after “control”).  When the “User Accounts” window appears, uncheck the box that says “Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer” and click “Apply”.  It’s worth mentioning that while your computer configured this way is extremely convenient, it does put the data on your system somewhat at risk of access by unauthorized people.  It’s easy to say “that will never happen” but there’s always the stray plumber, pest control guy, handyman, kid’s friend, electrician, or burglar who says otherwise.  Thank about it carefully, and choose the level of safety that’s right for you.

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