As a former Microsoft programmer, perhaps you can help me. I recently lost
Hotmail. I was unable to access it and several other search sites. I kept
getting the “Oops, we cannot find page.” I contacted an online tech support
company and gave them control of my computer. They removed several junk files,
telling me that they were dangerous. I haven’t had any viruses since using
Kaspersky. During our lengthy online exchange, the Hotmail server came back up.
The tech’s claimed that they had done that, but wouldn’t tell me how. I have a
transcript of the entire online conversation. Did the Hotmail server come back
up by itself or were these techs able to restore it?
In this excerpt from
Answercast #29, I look at a case where online tech support appears to have
solved a problem. All the same, it’s good to be cautious.
Page not found error
So my belief is that the Hotmail server was never down. There was actually nothing going on with Hotmail itself.
The error message that you saw; the “Oops, we cannot find” is an error message that your computer generates (that your browser generates) when it’s unable to connect to a site that you’re trying to get to.
So if you’re trying get to Hotmail (or if you’re trying to get to Ask Leo!, or if you’re trying to get to Google) and you can’t connect, then it’s going to say, “Well, we can’t find it.” There are several ways that could fail and one of them is that your browser is literally not be able to find the site.
Now, yes, that is indistinguishable from some kinds of site problems.
If the Ask Leo! server were to go down in a particular way and you tried to access Ask Leo!, then you would get the same error message. But the fact that you were seeing this both from Hotmail and (as you put it) “some other search sites” leads me to believe that the problem was indeed on your computer.
Online tech support
Now, whenever somebody tells me that they gave control of their computer to an online tech support company I get nervous. I just do… because there are too many scams associated with that kind of thing.
That being said, I’m sure that there are reputable companies out there. You haven’t told me which one you were using and I will assume the best right now; because in reality, what the techs claim (that they fixed it) is in fact, very likely.
Computer not connecting
As I said, the problem was not the Hotmail server being down, the problem was probably your computer’s ability to connect to the Hotmail server. They probably cleaned a couple of things; they probably tweaked a couple of things; they probably fixed a couple of things that allowed your browser to be able to connect to the various sites that you are getting to.
And of course… if they had fixed something, it would have started working while they were fixing it.
Now, being the nervous kind of person that I am, again: online tech support companies (especially when I don’t know who they are) make me kind of nervous.
I would recommend that you back up your machine as soon as possible and make sure that your anti-malware tools are running, running clean and running up to date.
Like I said, there’s nothing here, absolutely nothing here that would indicate that what they’ve done is underhanded. It’s just that this kind of remote access has been used in the past as a way to get people to hand over control of their computers for infections. I don’t think that’s happened here, but I do think that it’s always worth being extra cautious in situations like this.