Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beware the Craiglist Computer Repair!

I came across another astoundingly bad example of why it's important to use a reputable person to repair your computer.  A friend of mine managed to get her laptop badly infected with malware, no doubt because she deliberately neglected to update Windows and Java.  She'll know better next time, I hope.

And I hope she'll call me, rather than some guy she found on Craiglist.  Whoever this fellow was, he knew enough to wipe the computer clean--the only sure way to disinfect.  Unfortunately, he did a reformat and "clean install" from DVD, rather than using the built-in system recovery tools on the laptop. There was a time when I did a lot of clean installs, and sometimes that's necessary, but a system recovery (not the same thing as a "system restore") is usually better despite the bloatware that might be included.  That way the recovery partition is preserved for the future and the software, especially Windows itself, remains licensed under the original OEM license keys.

Here's the incredible part.  The Craigslist Guy installed Windows 7 Ultimate (not Home Premium as the laptop had previously) and DID NOT LICENSE IT at all.  He gave the laptop back working fine, probably knowing that three days Windows would start complaining that it was running an unlicensed, pirated copy (which it technically was).  And of course, he didn't update Windows or Java properly so the laptop was just going to get infected again.  About the only thing Craiglist Guy did right was that he managed to copy her files to the new install so she didn't lose her pictures and documents.

After a little research, I was able to fool Windows into thinking it was actually Home Premium, and then I could key in the license key from the back of the laptop--for there's no reason to run pirated software when you have a valid license key!  Then I did all the updates--including uninstalling Java altogether--and she was back where she needed to be.

When I gave her back the laptop, she asked me how much she owed me.  I told her it was on the house.  Let Karma catch up with the Craigslist Guy.  Me, I felt like the laptop and its owner had suffered enough.