Moderated and reported by Jim Scheef
Ask DACS is a Question and Answer session before the main presentation at the monthly General Meeting. We solicit questions from the floor and then answers from other audience members. My role as moderator is to try to guide the discussion to a likely solution to the problem. The answers below include my own post-meeting research.
Q – I noticed recently that FT Downloader is running on my WinXP machine. The search results on Google gave a mixed opinion on whether it is malware or something from Microsoft.
A – Jay Ferron, our speaker for the evening, said that FT Downloader (ftdownloader.com) is a download manager that comes with a lot of shareware. The site indicates that it is used with FilesTube.com (filestube.to when you open the link) which appears to be a download site for all kinds of files, including home-made videos, music, and ‘archive’ files (whatever they might be). I would avoid this site. In further research I found that FT Downloader will bundle other files with the program you want to download. As such, it may be benign, but I would remove it post haste along with any other program that sets an autostart registry entry without asking.
BTW, the “.to” TLD (top level domain) in filestube.to is officially the Pacific island nation of Tonga, however Wikipedia indicates it is “Often used unofficially for Torrent, Turin, Toronto, Tokyo, or Tocantins”. Torrent is a fast download protocol used for both good and evil. Caveat emptor.
Q – I have an application called ADW Cleaner which helped solve a recent virus problem and FT Downloader showed up in the quarantine. Should I use this program to remove FT Downloader?
A – Again, Jay Ferron: That cleaner program will show things in quarantine that aren’t necessarily malware (like cookies) so you need to be careful. Not everything is quarantine-able. DACS has never recommended any of the “cleaner” programs because most do more harm than good. Your mileage may vary. You can use System Information (Start|Accessories|System Tools) to find the autostart registry key. Delete that key and reboot so FT Downloader is not running. Then uninstall the program.
Q – A member reported trouble getting to the Internet using the Hospital’s open Wi-Fi in the auditorium.
Q – My Hewlett Packard (HP) desktop machine running Win7 got into trouble where it was not receiving Microsoft updates. A manual update check said there were no updates when we know updates were released. So I reinstalled Windows using non-HP OEM media. This went fine except now I would like to reinstall the HP “niceties”. How can I do that?
A – HP “recovery disks” are intended to return the machine to exactly the way it was when it came out of the box. Thus it will reformat the hard drive and may even wipe out other partitions. Generally I remove the hard drive from the problem machine, connect the disk to another machine using a USB adapter and copy all the user files off the disk. Another option is to boot from a live CD (either Linux- or Windows-based) and copy user files to an external drive. Once all the user files are secure, the so-called recovery disk becomes a more acceptable option. Since you have reinstalled Windows, you now need all the device drivers and other programs supplied by HP. If these files are available, they will be on the HP website (hp.com). Look for support. On the support page, look for downloads, and then use the search tool to find your machine. It is also possible that the device drivers are on a “recovery partition”. If this part of the drive is not immediately visible, you can often use the Drive Manager to assign it a drive letter. You can then navigate to the partition and browse the files to find what you need. One or a mixture of these techniques should find what you need.
A couple years ago I had a disagreement with HP support over upgrading an HP Pavilion desktop machine from Vista Home to Win7 Pro. The exposé on how to do this was written by Mr. Some Dude in the November, 2012, issue of DACS.doc (http://dacs.org/archive/2012-11/feature1.htm). At the meeting this month I misspoke when I said that the BIOS prevented non-HP OEM Windows from installing. Actually the problem did not show up until after the installation when Windows tried to activate. The activation would fail. Flashing the motherboard BIOS to the regular Award BIOS for that board in effect turned the HP OEM motherboard into a regular “retail” ASUS motherboard that works with any version of Windows. A side benefit to the ‘new’ BIOS is the availability of many additional features, like overclocking.
Q – Over the years I have become accustomed to receiving updates for both Windows and Microsoft Office via the Windows Update process. Now I have the Office 365 version of Office 2013 installed on my Win8 machine and noticed that the Office updates arrived separately. Is this something new for Office?
A – Jay Ferron’s response: The Office 365 version is “click to run” in that it “phones home” when it starts. This allows Microsoft to disable the installation if you do not renew your Office 365 account. If your computer is not connected to the Internet, after some period of time, this version of Office will no longer run. Because of this authentication process, updates are delivered outside the regular Windows Update process. All this is new to the Office 365 version of Office 2013, which became available to users in a gradual rollout spread over most of last year.
Questions for the upcoming meeting can be emailed to email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Ask DACS questions come from members by email or from the audience attending the general meeting. Answers are suggestions offered by meeting attendees and represent a consensus of those responding. DACS offers no warranty as to the correctness of the answers and anyone following these suggestions or answers does so at their own risk. In other words, we could be totally wrong!