I have a relatively new computer which two days before Christmas started misbehaving. Shortly after turning it on it would freeze. I could only get it to work by doing a cold reboot – ie, I had to turn it off using the on-off button and then restart it. I paid no attention to this problem until I realized it was a daily event. If I worked late the “freeze” would start as soon as the clock reached midnight. If the computer was turned off for the night the problem would start about 10 minutes after it had been turned back on.

The search for a solution took about four weeks before said solution was found. I did numerous scans looking for viruses and other digital parasites all of which were to no avail. The only discovery I made which helped put me on the right path was that System Restore did not work. I consulted two computer gurus. The one who had built the now impaired machine the other a close relative. Neither made a diagnosis. But the former suggested that I boot the computer in Safe Mode and then try System Restore. I did and it did. In other words, System Restore worked in Safe Mode. This revealed that some program that ran when the computer was booted normally was preventing System Restore from working.

I disabled everything I could think of without success. The answer was staring me straight between the eyes but I was too dumb to see it. I went back to my malign parasite trope. I decided to do an external virus scan thinking my antivirus program, Spyware Doctor, might be infected and unable to see the cause of my machine’s quotidian dysfunction. This scan did find a few low threat adware trojans that SD had missed; but they were unlikely to the cause of a major breakdown. To my surprise removing them seemed to fix my problem. But then I remembered that I had turned off SD when doing the external scan.. When I turned it back on the problem returned. Thus it was the program that was supposed to protect my computer that was giving it a daily dose of curare. Why or how SD was doing this didn’t interest me. I also don’t know if this is a common problem with SD and its like or just an unlucky sport. I removed SD and my computer runs faster than it ever has. A few inquiries told me that other commercial internet security programs had also been reported to cause problems similar to the ones I just described.

I had been using SD for at least four years and had been satisfied with it until this happened. In retrospect there were numerous signs that SD had gone off the reservation. It blocked access to many safe websites and to a number of legitimate programs, but I paid no heed until things went seriously wrong. With it gone I needed another program that would protect my computer from the outside world without wrecking it from the inside. My relative computer guru suggested I use Microsoft Security Essentials. This is a free suite of programs which is said to provide the same degree of protection that the for pay programs offer. Since it’s distributed by Microsoft I assumed, correctly I hope, that it’s fully compatible with Windows and that it will both preserve and protect.

So MSE is on all my machines which are all purring like a satisfied lion. Actually, they are all running about twice as fast as they were before I removed SD. I pray that tranquility and and order will persist. If you experience a similar problem don’t wait a month to try turning off your antivirus program. It might be the culprit.