It’s been a little while since I last answered a selection of letters from my mailbag so I thought this week would be a good time to start catching up.

I follow your column in the Herald Express and was wondering if you could help me with the following problem that I am having with my Windows 98 machine. The problem is that it appears to have trouble shutting down so every second or third time I attempt this process I am forced to cut power to the machine in order to get it to turn itself off which then means the drive has to be scanned when I re-start.
This is becoming a nuisance and I would appreciate your advice.
Eileen Woodroffe, via e-mail
The problem you describe can be caused by several things although it is most likely to be one of two things. Firstly there is a notorious bug that Microsoft know about in the Operating System that you own so any users running Windows 98SE who are experiencing this problem (and there will be quite a few of you) should head to and download the patch that prevents this problem from occurring. Alternatively if you don’t want to have to type this long URL into your browser you can do a search on Google for ‘Windows 98 Shutdown Fix’. If this doesn’t solve the problem then it is likely being caused by the second hypothesis that I’ll put forward which is that there is a non responsive program in memory that is starting when you first switch on your machine and refusing to shut down when Windows requests it to. As I have already written in the past about preventing programs that load themselves into memory on system start-up please head to to view a copy and to save me having to repeat myself.

I notice on your articles in the Herald Express you have spent quite a bit of time on viruses so I wonder if you could help me with my problem. My daughter-in-law who runs Windows ME has 45 Trojan horses on her system as found by her AVG Virus Scanner. Unfortunately however AVG cannot remove these as apparently the file is in use so I was wondering if you could give me some assistance getting rid of them?
Pam Packer, via e-mail
This problem is usually caused by the virus remaining present in memory whilst the computer is turned on which causes AVG to throw up an error as you cannot remove a file that is currently being used by Windows even if the file in question happens to be a virus. There are several ways around this and first and foremost press <CTRL> + <ATL> + <DELETE> and look for any processes that look ominous and end them; these suspect processes may be the virus running in the background and once removed the files can be removed safely by your virus checker. Those with a little bit of computer knowledge should be able to spot these processes immediately however if you are a beginner then you may like to leave this step for the more experienced although please rest assured that no permanent damage can be inflicted by the user at this stage because any processes that are terminated will be loaded back into memory when you restart your machine.

Secondly, you could try starting your computer in Safe Mode as hopefully the virus will then never get a chance to start and hence it will be easily deleted. Please do bear in mind that some virus scanners won’t function in safe mode.

Finally if the two above solutions fail you should do a little bit of research by heading to and finding the virus that was previously identified by your virus checker. This can be easily done as the list of viruses is alphabetically sorted and fully searchable so simply select the virus your machine is infected with and the site should display some manual removal methods or even better it may provide a specific removal tool that will remove the virus from memory and then delete it safely.

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