This week I will dedicate to a letter I recently received from one of my readers who is experiencing problems with an intrusive file that she picked up whilst browsing the Internet.

I recently subscribed to a Newsgroup, and when I next returned to my desktop I found a new icon entitled "Private-Archive". When I clicked on it out of curiosity I discovered that it led me into a hard core pornographic site and said that, if I did not wish to view such things, I "should leave the site now" which, of course, I did. My problem is that the icon now refuses to be deleted and I receive the Error Message: “Cannot delete. Access denied. The source file may be in use."

I desperately want it off my desktop and, indeed, completely out of my hard drive - It makes me feel dirty just seeing it there and younger members of my family have access to my computer. Can you help me, please?
Frances Mommert, Paignton

One of the biggest causes of complaint amongst computer users is intrusive spam or indeed software programs that trick you into allowing them to install onto your hard-drive. One of the most notorious ones was a program that would install itself onto your computer whilst you were on the Internet, drop your connection and then redial you to a premium international phone number. You would carry on using the Internet, completely unaware that you were not connected to your standard ISP but indeed to a £1.50 per minute line; a very costly mistake!

Luckily, all programs need some kind of authorisation to install themselves onto your computer and so whenever a pop up window that looks like it could be up to no good appears asking you a question, no matter how mundane the question may be, I’d recommend always hitting <alt> and <f4> together to close the window rather than clicking on OK. By clicking on okay, you may be inadvertently giving Windows the opportunity to install unwanted programs on to your machine. It is unlikely that you picked this up just by giving your e-mail address to a newsgroup and so I believe that it is probable you were tricked by another part of the site into installing the file.

Anyway, this is all slightly irreverent in your instance as the program in question is already on your computer so how do you go about getting rid of it? The reason it cannot be deleted is because it is resident in your computers memory and Windows cannot delete files that it is currently working with – Unfortunately, every time you start up your machine Windows loads this ominous program although I can only speculate on the reasoning that this program requests to be running continuously. What we need to do is find a way to remove the program from memory so that it can be deleted and luckily there are a number of ways to do this:

First try loading the computer in safe mode by hitting <F8> when your computer first starts booting up – The correct timing is when the message appears ‘Starting Windows 95/98 etc…’ appears on your screen – If you miss it first time around then wait for the computer to boot, reset it and try again and hopefully you should now be able to delete the file.
If this doesn’t work then boot your computer as normal and then try hitting <ctrl>, <alt> and <delete> simultaneously as this will bring up a window where you can shut down programs running in memory. Look for anything ominous, click on it and then click on ‘End Task’. This will remove that particular program from memory at which point you can try once again to delete the intrusive file – Continue closing down programs one by one and attempting to delete said file; don’t worry, there is no damage you can cause here as all programs removed from memory will be reloaded again when you restart Windows. Do not worry about ‘Explorer’ and ‘Systray’ however as these are integral parts of Windows so you should not try and close them down.
The final suggestion I would make if this doesn’t work would be to download an application which will disable certain programs that are included as part of the Windows start-up. This way we can prevent the file from ever being loaded in the first instance so to do this, head to where you will find a web-based interface that will allow you to do just that. Again, search for something that looks like it shouldn’t be there – You haven’t given me too much information on what the file is called but there’ll probably be something that will stick out like a sore thumb; if in doubt, disable it as you can always re-enable anything you pick out by mistake. Once you think that you’ve found the mischievous item, restart the computer and try once again to delete the file.
Please let me know how to progress with this issue and I would recommend that just to be on the safe site that you should check your system for viruses. Head to and download the free AVG anti-virus scanner and let it run through your system in its entirety.

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