Helpline

HELPLINE

December 02, 2004

Q: My Windows screen saver would always work. All of a sudden it quit working. I tried everything I could think of. I have a Pentium 4-based computer, with Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition and Service Pack 2.

A: Screen savers, small programs with the extension SCR, date back when monitor screens were susceptible to burn-in, a phenomenon in which something displayed for long periods in the same spot would remain as a ghost image. Screen savers kick in and present a display that would prevent burn-in. Lots of folks took a liking to the things, though they are not needed these days.

Many folks encounter screen-saver glitches after upgrading to the Service Pack 2 update to Windows XP because some of the screen savers built in to Windows were rewritten as part of this security patch for the operating system. Even though you don't give the name of the screen saver that you really miss, you can find and fix whatever it is after getting a general description about finding and installing these popular little utilities.

First a warning, and it's a serious alarm, indeed. A goodly number of viruses come disguised as screen savers, because running a screen saver executes program code. Viruses need to trick a victim into executing a program to do their mischief.

To find the screen savers, use the Windows Search tool under the Start menu and type in the keyword *.scr and click OK. You will get a list of all SCR files on the drive, including the ones Service Pack 2 replaced plus new versions.

To ensure safety from hackers, right-click on a SCR file and select Properties. This brings up a display that includes a tab called Version, which includes the name of the file's creator. Make sure it is Microsoft or an outfit you trust. Now look at the top of the right-click menu for the Test command, which will run the SCR file for display only.

Once you find the SCR of your dreams, look for the Install command in the same right-click menu and run it. This will make the selected file your default screen saver.

Q: After the Windows XP Home screen displays on my eMachines PC, this message appears: "Winlogon.exe-Bad Image: The application or DLL c: 1/4 WINDOWS 1/4 System 32 1/4 sfc.dll is not a valid Windows image. Please check this against your installation diskette."

When I click on OK, the PC boots and runs fine. How do I get rid of this error message without reloading Windows?

A: Whenever one encounters problems relating to files called winlogon.exe, all kinds of virus alarms go off because some nasty infections, including one called Netsky, use this name while trying to trick people into executing the file.

The worst hack attacks rely on getting folks to run executable software that contains a booby trap. Files with endings of EXE, SCR, BAT, COM and several others are recognized by Windows as executable.

With the winlogon.exe file, things are dicey because Windows also includes an essential file with the same name that is kept in the system directory, while the ringer files tend to be in the Windows directory. This is a case where you should get some outside help to clean up your machine.

Anti-virus companies post fixes for the Netsky worm on their Web sites. You should go to one and download fix files. Sites such as www.symantec.com (Norton), www.mca fee.com and www.pandasoftware.com offer help. Pick one, use Netsky as a search term, and you'll get help.

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