Computers with a mind of their own

Sometimes it seems as if our computers have a mind of their own and, for whatever reason, are intentionally wreaking havoc in our lives. This week, we will try to re-establish technological tranquility.

Q: I have a problem that has just now started after several years. I am getting timed out of my Hotmail account after several minutes and have to re-sign in — and often lose the message that I was sending. My computer has also “kicked me” off of my Internet connection, and it has sometimes taken 30 minutes or longer to get the connection restored. I was told it was my router, which is a Netgear WGR614 (54 Mbps, 2.4 GHz 802.11, which means absolutely nothing to me). Any ideas? I’m taking an online class, so if I lose my connection during a test, I get an automatic F.

A: Yes, indeed, your router does sound like the culprit. This being said, there may be other issues contributing to the frustrating connection/disconnection behavior, as well. These issues may stem from your NIC or Network Interface Card and/or your computer’s motherboard. Without a proper and thorough diagnosis, I can only provide you with this cursory overview of the potential causes. The way to test this issue is to bypass the router and connect an Ethernet cable directly to your modem from your computer’s Ethernet connection. This will bypass the router, allow you to evaluate your Internet connection in the most straightforward fashion and provide you with the information that you are looking for.

Q: I have Windows XP Professional. On the recommendation of a friend, I installed Kaspersky Anti-Virus after having used Norton for years. My computer was never that fast, but now it is really slow! Prior to installing Kaspersky, I uninstalled Norton from Add/Remove Programs and restarted the computer. My friend’s computer isn’t as slow as mine, and I never had this problem with Norton. Please advise.

A: It is unlikely that Kaspersky is the problem. Norton Internet Security and Anti-Virus have always been resource-heavy. This means that your computer dedicates a significant percentage of its available memory and processing power to accommodate Norton’s functionality. A while ago, a special tool was developed and made available by Symantec (the makers of Norton products), called the Norton Removal Tool. It is necessary, when removing Norton AV and IS software, to use this tool to “completely and thoroughly” remove all traces of Norton from your computer system. This will inevitably give you the computing performance you expect. Go to the following URL and download the Norton Removal Tool:

Once downloaded, run the tool and follow the prompts. You will need to restart your computer. Upon restarting, your browser will open to the Symantec Web site. Just close out of your browser and enjoy your faster computer.

Wayne Nelson and Jeremy Self own and operate Wired Northwest, LLC, in Redmond. Submit your questions to:

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