There is an easy method of getting your computer out of two situations of potential harm. To do this, we will use the operating system's built-in program called the Task Manager.
The first situation is when you have too many programs running at one time and the computer locks up. This lockup can also be caused by a single program that for one Reason or another, fails to run properly. Reaching over and hitting the power button may seem to be your only option but there is a much better choice.
The second situation occurs when you are on a webpage and one of those realistic looking but totally phony "security alerts" pops up on your monitor screen warning you of imminent danger of viruses and other malware that "it" has detected on your computer. These scare popups trick many naive people into clicking on them only to find out that now their computer truly is infected and control has been lost. You are totally helpless when you have clicked on one of these so-called "security" scam programs.
You absolutely must not click anywhere on these pop-ups including buttons that say something to the effect of "No Thanks," "Decline" or even "Continue Unprotected." But, instead of clicking one of those, you may decide, almost instinctively, to click the "X" in the corner of the pop-up box. Doing any of these actions is almost like turning your house alarm off, opening the door and saying "come on in" to the masked bandit standing outside. Paying the "bandits" for their "security program" which is holding your computer hostage is an extremely poor choice. Do you really want to pay the thieves with your credit card and its number?
But you are now stuck in a situation where you may try to click off the web page by clicking on its "X" in the upper right hand corner. But you soon find out that that won't work as you first need to close the window (the pop-up in this case) that is on top.
Hard shutting down the computer by using the power button may seem to be your only option but again there is a better alternative.
Your best friend in both situations is the Task Manager. To open this built-in program, press and hold the CTRL and ALT keys with your left hand, then tap the DEL key with your right hand.
In Win XP, this will automatically open the Task Manager while with Windows 7 it will take you to a page with a list of options. Click the bottom option and it will open the Task Manager which looks nearly identical to the XP one. From here, everything is the same for both systems.
Along the top edge of the Task Manager is a row of tabs. Click the Applications tab, if it doesn't happen to automatically be on that tab. When you have opened it up, you will see a listing of all the programs and web pages that are running.
If your computer is locked up, look for any programs that are "Not responding." Click the program one time to highlight it then click on End Task at the bottom. This should close the nonresponsive program and free your computer.
If the computer remains locked up, use the same method to close all of the remaining Programs that are running then shut down as you would normally. Everything should be back to normal when you reboot the computer.
A hard shutdown with the power button is absolutely the last resort as this could potentially damage files.
To close a web page with the dangerous fake security warning pop-ups, use the same method by highlighting the web page in the list then clicking End Task. This will safely shut down the web page with its pop-up without installing the malware "security program."
By Terry MacLennan, Member at Large, Sauk Computer Users Group, IL,
Originally published in The Computer Connection, the newsletter of the Sauk Computer Users Group