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Trashed

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

An urgent call I received recently was from a lady who thought, in her words, that her computer had been “completely trashed.” I was very pleased to be able to tell over the phone that things were not nearly as bad as she thought and proceeded to guide her through putting out the trash. Most internet users are not consciously aware of it, but there are two vital configurations that exert a lot of control over their online experience. When either or both of these configurations somehow get changed, it can make everything on your computer seem way out of whack.

Your internet browser, also known as a web browser or simply a browser, is one of the programs installed on your computer, tablet, or smart phone that you use to view web pages. The job of an internet browser is to translate the complex computer code with which websites are designed in into a form that can be easily read by people. Two settings that are easily changed, and which can ruin your whole day when they do get changed, are the settings for your home page and your default search engine.

The home page or starting page is the first website your browser goes to when you start to surf the internet. Many people have this set to their favorite news site, Facebook, or their email page. Malicious websites can change this setting to redirect you to their site every time you go online. Fortunately changing this back is easy enough that most users can do so without professional help.

In your browser (Chrome, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) find the “Settings” menu. Look for “Home Page” or “On startup” or just look for a window populated with the address of a web page. Here is where you may type in the address of the page you want to open when you go online.

The other browser setting that sometimes gets changed by accident or by malicious websites is the default search engine. Google is the most popular internet search engine today, but there are others such as Bing or Yahoo. Amazon.com has a search engine for shoppers, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but if your default search engine somehow changed to Amazon then you would suddenly discover that you are unable to search for anything other than products Amazon has for sale. Shoppers might be in heaven, but for anyone wanting to find other information online, this would be frustrating.

A malware infection or simply visiting malicious websites can change your default search engine to one that misdirects your searches. Changing this back is usually no more complicated than opening the “Settings” menu in your browser and choosing the search engine you want to use, such as Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.

So the next time your computer is “trashed,” restoring your preferred choices for home page and default search engine could be all you need to do to put things back to normal.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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