As a Mom of a couple teens, I get viruses all of the time. This latest one I
cannot find a solution to; here goes – my control panel is GONE! There is a
popup every time I start the ‘puter with the filename of “mustafx2.exe” I can’t
find it anywhere in English. I am using AVG, Ad Aware and Spy-Bot as well as
Windows Defender. I have Windows XP version – never mind; can’t look that up
anymore either….UGH! Nothing has helped. Got any clues?
I have a couple of reactions to this question.
One, of course, will be the steps I’d take to try and recover in this case.
I’ll outline those in a second.
But first, my other reaction, which you may not like .
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“… I get viruses all of the time.”
This is unacceptable.
In my opinion you must change that mindset. Getting a virus, any
virus, should be considered a very serious thing. Your teens, or whomever is
using your computer in such a way as to get infected by these viruses,
must learn to use the computer safely and properly.
There’s simply no substitute for that.
If this is a computer you share with your teens, I’d be doubly concerned. In
fact, in your shoes I’d be barring their access … letting them allow your
machine to become infected with viruses is putting everything on your
computer at risk. You could lose everything stored on your computer.
from a virus is to completely reformat the machine and reinstall the operating
system, updates, applications and data from scratch.”
So why am I so passionate about this?
It’s simple really: consider the possibilities after you’re infected with a
Your anti-virus program successfully cleans it off.
Your anti-virus program thinks it successfully cleans it off, but
in fact the virus has hidden itself so well that it remains. You’re still
infected, and you don’t know it.
Your anti-virus program doesn’t catch it and doesn’t even try to clean it
off. You’re still infected, and you don’t know it.
Your anti-virus program fails to clean it off and tells you. You’re still
infected, but at least you know.
Because we trust that #1 will happen all the time, it’s easy to become
complacent. It’s easy to assume that viruses are a fact of (teenage?) life, and
that we can just clean them up after they happen.
That’s just not true. A lot of malware can’t be so simply swept away.
The only way to absolutely, positively clean a machine from a virus
is to completely reformat the machine and reinstall the operating system,
updates, applications and data from scratch.
Re-read that sentence. It’s important and absolutely true.
Most of the time we don’t do that. We assume, we hope, that the anti-malware
software we have running will clean things up for us. But there’s actually no
way to know for sure.
Each time we allow an infection to happen, each time we then use
anti-malware software to clean off an infection, we’re gambling. Most of the
time, we’re ok. But sometimes we’re not. (I do have to mention that finding a
virus on your machine and finding a virus installed on your machine
are two different things. Anti-virus programs will report both, but it’s the
later case that is the problem scenario.)
Let’s look at your situation.
As you can guess by now the only guaranteed way to rid yourself of
this malware is to reformat your machine and reinstall everything. That’s very
painful and something I know that most people would want to avoid, including
So here are steps I would try first:
Backup your system.
Yes, we’re backing up the infected system, but in case subsequent attempts go
horribly wrong we’ll always then have this backup to revert to as we attempt
other approaches to recovery.
Run the System File
Checker. Many viruses operate by replacing system components – the System
File Checker will attempt to restore them. Make sure to have your original
Windows installation CD ready, as SFC will typically ask for it if it finds it
needs to restore files.
Perform a repair install
of Windows. This works very much like an full install, replacing and updating
system files and other components, but it attempts to preserve all data and
installed programs in the process.
If those don’t work … well, by now you know what’s next.
Once your machine is clean, I’m going to strongly recommend you implement a
frequent backup regimen. Daily would be nice, making sure that you save each
day’s information so that if necessary you can revert to a backup from “x days
The reason I say this is that as much as we might want to make sure that
your teens never, ever allow your machine to get infected again (and that
should absolutely be the goal), the practical reality is that it ain’t
gonna happen. At least not right away.
With a sequence of daily backups, if you do get infected again you could
simply restore the machine to the most recent backup prior to the infection.
Yep, you’ll lose any changes made after that backup, but my guess is that’ll be
a lot less painful than a full reinstall.
And it might even act as an incentive to avoid infections in the future.