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Issue #328: November 3, 2013

Let me start today’s column by thanking the several people who contacted me after last week’s issue to tell me that the “Submit a Question” form on my website was broken!  Well duh, Geek!  No wonder you’re not getting many new questions!  In my defense, I almost never see the site as anything other than the administrator, and when you’re carrying around all the keys to the kingdom things look quite different.  Anyway, I’ve temporarily replaced the malfunctioning page with one that will assist you to send your questions via e-mail, but don’t be too surprised if, by the time you read this, the form is up and working again it’s working again.

– Geek

Q: While installing some software on my computer, somehow I ended up accidentally installing something called vgrabber (I think it snuck in with one of my downloads).  Ever since this thing loaded, when I try to go to Facebook or one of my game sites in Google Chrome, the page never shows up, and I have to use Internet Explorer instead.  I can get along without Chrome, but it seemed to be a little faster to play games, but now vgrabber uses up too much of the screen.  Vgrabber also showed up on Mozilla FireFox.  I tried to get rid of vgrabber by uninstalling it using Add/Remove Programs.  It said it uninstalled, but it’s still there.  It isn’t on the uninstall list any more though.

– Lucy W.
Grafton, Wisconsin

 A: What you’ve got there is a dandy little piece of malware.  I don’t believe VGrabber is particularly dangerous; that is, it doesn’t seem bent on stealing your personal info, or trying to damage or take over your computer.  Rather, this one is simply annoying – serving up advertisements that you don’t want, hijacking your browsing and searching, and thwarting attempts to remove it, all the while smiling sweetly at you like Eddie Haskell (you younger Geeks might have to Google that reference).

Fortunately VGrabber is fairly easy prey if you have the proper malware scanners to remove it.  Notice that was scannerS – plural. You’ll need two of them to guarantee a complete removal.  Start by rebooting your computer into Safe Mode.  You do this by pressing the F8 key as the system boots up.  The timing is kind of tricky, because you have to press it after the initial power-on screen, but before the Windows logo appears.  If the Windows logo appears, you should wait for the system to finish booting, then shut down and try again.  If your timing is good, you’ll see a Boot Options screen.  Use the arrow keys to select “Safe Mode with Networking”, and let the boot process run.  You might notice some differences with the system in Safe Mode – that is normal.  Once the system is up, run your browser and visit to download AdwCleaner.  Save it to your desktop – don’t run it yet.  Now go to and download Junkware Removal Tool, and save it to your desktop.  Now close all browsers and all programs that are running and you can proceed.

Double-Click on adwcleaner.exe to run it.  Each time it finds something that shouldn’t be there, it will prompt you with a dialog.  Click “Delete” and let the scan run all the way through.  When it’s done, your computer will automatically reboot.  When it comes back up a text file will open, displaying the results of the scan.  Follow the procedures above to reboot the computer into Safe Mode again, and this time double-click on JRT.exe, or if you’re running Windows 7, right-click on it and select “Run as Administrator”.  Let it run and do its job.  When it’s done, it will store a log of what it did on your desktop in a file named JRT.txt, which it will also automatically open for you.  One final reboot into normal mode, and you should find no trace of VGrabber on your system.  Happy Computing, and be careful when you’re downloading!

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