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Issue #339: January 19, 2014

Q:  The “Systems Reinstall” feature on our Dell Dimension 2400 with Windows XP Service pack 3 has lost it’s ability to restore to a previous date about 2 weeks ago.

When we initiate System Restore it still has bolded dates to choose from to reinstall and System Reinstall goes through the function but winds up with “Your computer cannot be restored to the date selected. (or any date we attempted to select). No changes have been made to your computer, select another date “. Any date we select results the same.

– Frank T.
Crestview, Florida

A:  You used both the term “Systems Reinstall” and “System Restore” in your description.  I’m going to assume you mean System Restore, since the former implies that you are completely reinstalling the operating system, where the latter implies restoring it to a previously saved restore point.  My first reaction is to wonder whether you’ve tried performing the restore while running in Safe Mode.  If so, and it didn’t work that way either, I would then wonder whether you are having a privilege problem (i.e. – operation denied due to required administrator status).  Try logging –in as an administrator.   Finally, the system must have enough free hard drive space to hold all the files Windows needs to perform the restore operation.  It usually requires at least 200 megabytes of free space.  I would hope you have at least that, because for your computer to be healthy you should have way more free than that anyway.

If none of these helps, you might want to look deeper into your system for a more meaningful error.  Visit for instructions on how to use the Windows XP Event Viewer to see what Windows knows that it might not be telling you.

Q:  I have a new Acer laptop running Windows 8. I have Webroot Secure to protect it which displays no threats when scanned. YET repeatedly I get annoying popups or am diverted to an unrequested website. e.g. take this poll…back up computer. HELP please.  At home I have an iMac desktop which runs smoothly. P.S. Love your advice and your Christmas display!

– Sandi O. (Snowbird)
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  Well, thank-you Sandi!  On behalf of our Tourist Development Commission, it’s my pleasure to welcome you and your tax dollars to our community!  Disclaimer: I have no actual authority to welcome you on behalf of the TDC!  But, thanks for the kind words on my light show.  For anyone interested, we’ll be holding a Community Event at the Geek Lights on Jan 25th, as we disassemble everything and put it carefully away until this fall.  See the show’s page at for complete information.  Now, on to your problem…

I didn’t really see much in your description that would be necessarily classified as a “threat” to be found by a malware scanner.  With the exception of being redirected to other websites, all the complaints you mentioned above sound like targeted popup ads.  I don’t believe Webroot includes any type of popup blocker feature, and there’s nothing resident on the system that causes these.  There is a popup blocker built-in to Internet Explorer.  You can turn it on by running IE, and clicking on Tools->Internet Options.  Go to the “Privacy” tab, and you’ll find it near the middle of the page.  Make sure the “Turn on Pop-up Blocker” box is checked.  The level of blocking is adjustable by clicking the “Settings” button.

It’s pretty tough to disable redirects without desirable features (including other redirects).  If the redirects are being done using Javascript, you could try disabling that, but you’d find many of the sites you want to view are crippled without Javascript enabled.  It’s possible (even likely) that the redirects are being done by semi-unscrupulous sites that are intercepting your navigation, and directing you to some site where they get paid each time someone views it.  No harm is done, but you are prevented from accessing the desired web content.  If you seriously suspect malware as the cause, try finding something a little more robust than Webroot to do your scanning for you.  According to a recent PCWorld article (, in their real-world attack tests, Webroot allowed the test system to become infected 3.9% of the time.  While that percentage might sound small, remember that there are countless viruses flying around the Internet, and only one bad one needs to get through to take your system down.  Suddenly, those don’t sound like very good odds.

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