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  1. #1
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    Cannot load browsers

    Setup: 16 month old Custom desktop ASUS board with 4GB RAM, 2 x 500GB HD, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

    Security: Netgear Router with hardwired firewall, Zone Alarm firewall, Avast AV., Malwarebytes Antimalware, WinPatrol, Windows Defender. Daily security database updates and scans by Avast, MBAM and Defender. System disk C:\ imaged every 4 weeks to external HD (Paragon).

    Problem: No problems up till 30/3 on which day I handled e-mail and browsed the Web (actually monitoring the T20 cricket!). Nothing downloaded. Normal shutdown. On switching on 31/3 checked e-mail via Mailwasher and Thunderbird then clicked on Firefox 28.0. Computer sort of grunted but nothing loaded. Repeated this without effect. Task Manager showed 3 Firefox processes running but there was nothing on the screen. I then tried Internet Explorer and Chrome but they did not load either. I rebooted without any change.

    Faced with what for me was an impossible problem I decided to cut corners and Restored from a backup from 2 weeks ago, which involved two reboots along the way. To my surprise Firefox still refused to load. I booted into Safe Mode with networking and Firefox loaded and updated itself again to 28.0.

    I ran a Diagnostic Startup and Firefox and Chrome both loaded but, of course, did not connect. A check on running processes showed that both Zone Alarm and Avast were running. I have since scanned with Avast, MBAM and RogueKiller. The latter is a bit complex but seems to report nothing untoward. I went on-line in Safe Mode and r a scan with Trend Micro Housecall and this found no threats.

    I have prided myself for years that I would never be caught out like other people because I can always Restore to a recent backup image. This episode is a real blow to my pride. More importantly, how does one recover from this situation. I cant work in Safe Mode all my life and I am not even certain if a clean install will cure this problem.

    I sincerely hope there is a guru out here who can come up with a solution.

  2. #2
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    See if AdwCleaner finds anything and there are links to other programs lower down the page, although I've read that Combofix should be used under supervision, but Junkware Removal Tool is similar to AdwCleaner.

    After AdwCleaner has done its scan, you can unckeck any items it finds that you want to keep, but clicking on Report will also show any other malicious files.

    Have a look at the add-ons in IE and Programs and Features for any Toolbars or programs that you haven't installed or don't recognise.

    If it's a malicious add-on then see if IE will open without add-ons by going Start - All Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Internet Explorer (No Add-ons).

    If it opens that way, then click on the Home page icon for your normal browsing page.

  3. #3
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    Have you tried shutting down ZoneAlarm?
    Rui
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  4. #4
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    Yes and you will see in my original post that Avast & ZA were running when I successfully loaded FF after a Diagnostic Startup.

    I have run AdwCleaner and it did not report any problems.
    I do not use IE and there are no toolbars. Attempts to run it without add-ons failed. Would a toolbar on IE block both Fiefox and Chrome as well?

    Are we still looking for malware which must have survived a complete C;\ Restoration, including two reboots?
    Could it not possibly be something intrinsic in the OS?

  5. #5
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    If you try a Windows clean boot, does it still happen?
    Rui
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  6. The Following User Says Thank You to ruirib For This Useful Post:

    KenWA (2014-04-01)

  7. #6
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Best not to throw any fix tools at it until you have a diagnosis.

    Feels like a firewall issue - have you every had any other firewall/AV installed? If so, ensure they've been completely removed: http://www.carrona.org/avuninst.html

    Next step for me would be a complete uninstall of ZA, turn on the Windows firewall, reboot a couple of times and run the ZA removal routine as well (in the link above).

    If that doesn't improve matters, collect some logs/data - the BSOD collection routine at Sysnative is good, read and follow steps 1>4 then zip the required folder and attach it back here in a reply: http://www.sysnative.com/forums/bsod...8-7-vista.html We'll try to analyse it for you.

    If you can zip up any other logs from tools you've run, please attach them as well.

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to satrow For This Useful Post:

    ih8bills (2014-04-03),Tech7 (2014-04-05)

  9. #7
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    Are there any entries in Event Viewer - either in Application or System - at the time you've tried the browsers that might shine a light on the issue?

    If you use Nir Sofer's MyEventViewer then you can see both Application and System together (instead of having to swap between the two) and you can save selected logs as a handy little text file.

    Select Logs and filter on Application, Internet Explorer and System.
    events.jpg
    Click to enlarge

    Select Options and filter on Error and Warning
    events1.jpg
    Click to enlarge

    If you see any events that are relevant then use CTRL+click to select them in the upper pane then use File > Save Selected Items to save the information to a text file (which you can attach to a post for us to see.
    events2.jpg
    Click to enlarge

    Hope this helps...

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to Rick Corbett For This Useful Post:

    Tech7 (2014-04-05)

  11. #8
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    Thank you Rurib.

    I had done the Selective Startup excluding usual start up items but I had not looked at the Services and, yes, FF loaded. Having done this now there were 20 services but I discounted Avast & Zone Alarm because they had been cleared as mentioned in my original post. I then disabled the first 5 and FF loaded. i chose Adobe Flash Updater as the prime suspect and disabled that with success. I could not find the actual program or service but under Control Panel I disabled automatic updates and tried a normal boot.

    Unfortunately FF did not load. I went back and disabled the next candidate which was Bluetooth Driver Management, booted normally, went in to Services and disabled it there and everything is back to normal. I do use Bluetooth occasionally but that is a matter which can be sorted later.

    The burning question remains - how did these two otherwise innocuous services become computer terrorists overnight? Anyway, I have learned a useful approach should any similar episodes occur in the future.

    Thank you again, Ken.

  12. #9
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    I agree that in the absence of any malware it looks like a firewall problem as any 3rd party security programs aren't loaded in Safe Mode with Networking.

    It could have been an Avast Definitions update that has caused the loss of connectivity and if you can do this with Avast, run a manual check for updates, but to eliminate Avast and ZoneAlarm, use the Uninstallers in satrow's post and then install MSE to see if the browsers will connect.

    Writing my post as you were yours, but Bluetooth is supposed to skip out of the way whenever it comes near a DHCP IP, but I suppose you could get the odd conflict.
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2014-04-01 at 11:51.

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenWA View Post
    Thank you Rurib.

    I had done the Selective Startup excluding usual start up items but I had not looked at the Services and, yes, FF loaded. Having done this now there were 20 services but I discounted Avast & Zone Alarm because they had been cleared as mentioned in my original post. I then disabled the first 5 and FF loaded. i chose Adobe Flash Updater as the prime suspect and disabled that with success. I could not find the actual program or service but under Control Panel I disabled automatic updates and tried a normal boot.

    Unfortunately FF did not load. I went back and disabled the next candidate which was Bluetooth Driver Management, booted normally, went in to Services and disabled it there and everything is back to normal. I do use Bluetooth occasionally but that is a matter which can be sorted later.

    The burning question remains - how did these two otherwise innocuous services become computer terrorists overnight? Anyway, I have learned a useful approach should any similar episodes occur in the future.

    Thank you again, Ken.
    Hi Ken,

    I am glad you got it sorted.
    It's indeed weird that such a situation would arise seemingly without any changes to your setup. Have you checked your bluetooth enabled hardware to see if it is working properly?
    Rui
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    R4

  14. #11
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    During the course of my investigations via a Clean Boot I discovered that both Avast and Zone Alarm continued to run their services when I had "disabled all".

  15. #12
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    3rd party security programs do reassert themselves in a clean boot and the only way to isolate them other than disabling or uninstalling is to boot up into Safe Mode where they aren't loaded and as the browsers worked when you booted up into Safe Mode with Networking, this tends to point to security programs as being the cause although a number of other applications aren't loaded either and is where the clean boot separates other non MS services/programs.

    If the clean boot didn't identify the cause, then it would have been back to the security programs.

  16. #13
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    KenWA I had your exact problems after an Avast update,I was shut out of web FF would not load the only difference from the day before was the update from Avast,I took Avast out and I could go on the web Avast did not think that it would have hurt so
    I now have AVG which was a pity I was completely happy with it,tried putting it back on computer but no go,I am running Windows 7 64 bit professional.

  17. #14
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    I had similar problems with Avast recently. Avast have taken a tumble with quality in recent months / year, since v7. They have focused more on pretty (useless) GUIs and adding extra products to get even more revenue for their hedge fund owners, whilst at the same time each release seems to cause more an more problems as reported on the forums. Moreover, as evidenced the past few months on AV Comparatives and AV Test the detection rates are plummeting, now just achieving 90% detection. I still use Avast but if there is not a very rapid turnaround of priorities by senior management then I will be taking my business elsewhere at renewal time, if not sooner.

  18. #15
    New Lounger larry8369's Avatar
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    Why didn't your restore work given you didn't have the issue when you last backed it up?

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