View Full Version : Strange Computer Behavior, can you figure out this one

11-28-2008, 10:45 PM
Rachel's Laptop is acting bizarre on searches with Google, Yahoo and MSN. Doing the same search on Dogpile has no issues. When you type in keywords in the search engine, the descriptions are all correct, just the links are all like "best Car Insurance" "Club Osmos". When I do the same search on my computer I get what you would expect with Google.

The below are examples of the search result on Rachel's (top) and mine (Bottom) note its the links that are messed up

I have run adaware, Virus checker, Ran Systems Mechanic and corrected all the registry errors. Validated her security settings were the same as mine.

I loaded Firefox and it does the same thing there.

I deleted all her temporary files, cookies, etc. I reset all her explorer settings back to default. Since firefox did the same thing out of the box, I don't think its an explorer setting

Her firewall is on.

She said it started about 2 weeks ago when they were using an unencrypted wifi setup when they were in Hawaii.

Any computer gurus with any thoughts?

Interesting it does this with Google, but when you run digpile it brings back results from Google that are not messed up.

11-28-2008, 10:46 PM
I think the telling things are it does it with firefox or explorer and it doesn't do it on all search engines

11-28-2008, 11:29 PM
Spyware doctor would be another free tool worth trying. Whenever I run it it turns up with a couple hundred additional potentially unwanted files other programs don't find. Most are cookie related files, my suspicion is they are related to social networking sites, and the ads posted on them.

11-29-2008, 01:18 AM
definitely spyware...there are some nasties out there...let me do some research

11-29-2008, 01:22 AM
sounds like a relatively common issue...




11-29-2008, 02:02 AM
It looks to me like some malware is redirecting your searches. I think something has gotten into your system and you're not really getting to Google. The only way I would know how that would happen is if somebody modified your "hosts" table. In general, a client goes through a network and the router serving that lan will know how to has where a given URL or IP is located and make the request. But if there is an entry in the hosts table, it'll just ask for that address. Here is a Wiki page talking about it and it does say where to look on your system for the hosts file. See if there is anything there other than "localhost" and the loopback IP (


So if you really wanna snoop and figure out if somebody is spoofing the search engines, and the more I think about it the surer I am that this is what is happening, run a traceroute on your hosed PC and your good one. Look at where the destination is and the routes it takes. Here are some instructions on how to run a trace of the route through Al Gore's invention:


Good luck, Paul

11-29-2008, 02:04 AM
In general, a client goes through a network and the router serving that lan will know how to has where a given URL or IP is located and make the request.

That should read ... a client goes through a network and the router serving that lan will know how to ASK where a given URL or IP is located and make the request.


11-29-2008, 12:00 PM
Didn't see anything with the hosts file

spyware doctor found some items that looked like it might be it and I had to pay for the registration to be able to fix the items which did not fix my problem.

I used spybot which also found some other items, still no fix

I have downloaded hijack this and there some suspicious items that I am going to delete from the registry. Backing up everything from her computer first.

If that doesn't work I will likely just wipe her hard drive and reload since I will have a backup of all her data files and e-mail items.

11-29-2008, 02:23 PM
can't figure it out. wiping the hard drive and reloading. That will clean up the past two years junk in any case

Thanks for trying guys

11-29-2008, 09:23 PM
I assume you tried a windows system restore and\or new windows profile?

I was thinking it was re-build time myself. All those silly clean up tools are usually worthless and you have already spent enough effort on this. Now you will be even faster at the backup, re-build and re-install process. Her pc will be smoking fast now and the bugs will be gone. Hopefully she will take notes from you so she can re-build it next time.

11-30-2008, 03:36 PM
All done, positive lesson learned is having backups allows you to easily recreate without data loss. I have a secure wifi in my home and I bought an external 750GB last summer for my computer that I use to pull everyone elses data off the network for backups. I just copied off a few additional files and her computer is recreated with all her iTunes (her biggest concern), contacts and school work intact.