20 Copies Of Kaspersky Internet Security To Be Won

20 Copies Of Kaspersky Internet Security To Be Won

Security software is essential to ensure that your online experience is hassle-free and your personal data is safe. We’ve got 20 copies of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 to give away — a great way to protect your computer.

We know that many Lifehacker and Gizmodo readers end up acting as tech support for friends and relatives. So for your chance to win this prize, we want to know: what’s the worst tech disaster you’ve had to help someone fix?

The 20 stories we find the most amusing and interesting will win a copy, so tell us your tale in the comments. The competition is open until October 3. You can check the full terms and conditions here.


  • old relative didn’t like the directory structure on his C: drive, so he created alphabetized directories to place everything in – so it became c:\w\windows and c:\t\temp etc – and then wondered why everything broke

  • One of my favourites was when I got my first computer (back in 1990).

    A bit of a history lesson.
    DOS 4 by default booted into the DOS Shell (well at least my computer did) and when you exited that it would leave you in the C:\DOS directory.

    Ok, so here’s my story.

    My Dad decided that he wanted to clean off a whole heap of floppy disks, so I’d jump out of the DOS Shell, type A: then DEL *.*, by reflex just hit Y to confirm. Hey’d then type C: before changing disks (just to be safe). So before doing one of the disks he forgot to type A: and managed to delete the DOS directory – I’m sitting there and I ask “Dad, why did you just delete DOS?”. And there was my first operating system reinstall 🙂

  • I worked for a food processing company that started production at 5:00am. Users had links to production reports that would open in IE and then compile a live report.

    I was on call and got a call at some ungodly hour of the morning because “my production report looks different”.

    I couldn’t resolve it over the phone so I got out of bed VPN’d into the network, remote viewed his computer so see the report running in Safari. Upon minimising I saw iTunes on the desktop and knew what had happened. I started uninstalling it, told him to restart when it was done and it would all be fixed.

    Then back to bed.

  • Dead USB ports in a dusty 10 year old computer of my sisters. The USB ports were for some reason starting to BSOD intermittently if she was to plug them in too long.

    Changed the ports over to the second USB connector on the board and all sweet again.

  • I used to work for a scale company that mainly worked with weighbridges. Many of these weighbridges are in remote locations and phone support is the only form of communication.

    One day I recieved a call from the service manager telling me of an important client in Kalgoorlie needed the software updated. The person I was to call was one of the people working in IT. “Great” I thought, I’m use to talking to weighbridge operators that were promoted from driving trucks and know little of computers. I called said IT person and started to detail what was required. All that was required was to update a field enter in an .ini file. Simple, open note pad, make change save it and restart program. Little did I know the “IT” guy on the other end of the phone had the computer skills of a blind truck driver. All I asked him to do is open the .ini file on his PC and the .ini file I emailed him, then to rearrange the two window so he could see them both.
    “I can see both the notepad windows?” He asked
    “Are there two notepad programs showing on the windows task bar?” I asked.
    “The what?” he wondered.
    “The blue bar at the bottom of the screen that shows active programs” I said as I face palm myself.
    “Yes, there are two open” he advised me.
    Most would knows that when you open two notepad windows they open on top of each other. “Ok, move the emailed file to the left and the other to the right side of the screen” I instructed.
    “How do I do that?” he wondered”
    “Click and drag the top of the notepad window” I advised while face palming myself a second time.
    “Oh there is the other file” he said with surprise.
    “Okay now copy the contents of the notepad file on the left of the screen into the notepad file on the right of the screen” I asked hoping he knew how to ctrl+c.
    “How do I…” he began to say.
    I jumped in with the appropriate action and finally he was on his way.

    I just couldn’t believe that someone could be so inept at operating a computer when their title quite clearly says I.T.
    Obviously this guy had managed to fail upwards like no other before.

  • This happens to my wife all the time. She will try doing something, and it will cause an error, and then I will come up, do exactly the same thing (supposedly) and it will work.

    The other day, she was trying to change her Facebook image and it would not update.

    She called me over, she walked me through the steps and wallah! it updated. She claims the computer is against her and swears black and blue that she did exactly the same thing, especially considering she told me how to do it.

    So who knows? Maybe I just have the Midas Touch.

  • The other week I had to do some interesting data recovery for a business.

    The guy who owns the place is a real handyman, so when it stopped booting he googled around and decided it was a faulty hard drive. He opened the laptop, took out the hard drive, and opened it. He fiddled with the insides, then reassembled it all and tried to boot.

    When I got there there the drive casing was dented, the hard drive platters had visible fingerprints, and half a dozen cables were unplugged on the laptop motherboard.

    Amazingly, we managed to pull about 85% of the data off (including all the invoices they hadn’t backed up) and get the laptop up and running again with a fresh drive.

    The problem that caused all this? a BIOS issue. Unplugging the CMOS battery for a few seconds fixed everything.

  • My old house mate’s desktop developed a HDD noise on his second drive. So being the good roomie that I was I offered to lend him an external to backup his computer before the noise became fatal. He replied that he didn’t need it because “…everything is backed up!”

    A week later the computer wasn’t booting windows and he was using some colourful language to encourage it to work when I got home. So offering to help I tried an XP disk to fix the MBR. When this didn’t work I pulled out a Linux Live distro, booted the computer. To double check that everything important was backed up. I noticed that his second HDD wasn’t mounting, I pulled the drive and tried it with my computer. Still nothing. So I asked him where his backup was, he indicated that the this drive was the backup, “No worries then where are your originals so I can back them up?”. “Oh I deleted them!”

    Long story short he purchased an external HDD the next day. But the damage had been done. All his photo’s, music & documents that weren’t on his C drive were sacrificed to the computer gods.

  • Many years back I received a call from a covert government agency.

    They explained that they were using an Cray X-MP super-computer to crack Triple DES encryption and MD5 hashes.

    Unfortunately, every time they ran Windows Solitaire it crashed the system.

    The solution was simple… I talked them through the uninstallation of the encryption cracking programs.

  • About 6yrs ago, I worked as a contractor for large power company. IBM’s were used as desktop PC, however, to get one with CD-ROM in it was only approved by management.

    Remember the ones that didn’t use a tray, you just pushed in the CD? That was the standard.

    Anyway, got a support call for a stuck CD, looked up the user and he hadn’t been approved for a PC with CD. Alarm bells went off….

    He’d managed to stuff one of those mini-CD’s into the Floppy drive, and the CD shattered…

    He got a replacement PC WITH a CD drive.

  • Two monts ago I stuffed my computer up when installing macosx onto windows to dual boot but after the process nothing would turn on i couldnt go to mac osx or windows but i needed a windows 7 repair disc which i couldnt find so i went to JBHIFI with a CD and download the repair disc utility onto their computer and then burned it to the disc i had brought and everyone was staring at me like i was hacking something but luckily i put the cd in when i got home and booted the CD first from the boot menu and then clicked repair startup problems luckily for me it got fixed and i never tried that again and never will i hope.

  • I got a call from my parents saying they’d bought 2 brand new “state of the art” laptops. I was thrilled since they weren’t big fans of technology, however they were complaining that the power adapter didn’t fit into the laptop properly and was loose.

    A few days later I receive a call saying both the laptops are dead and won’t start, so I go around to their house and discover that they’ve been trying to plug the AC Power into the ethernet port, and had used electrical tape to hold the plug in.

    Not really a disaster, but I almost wet my pants in laugher

  • We (group of students at my school) took advantage of the $1 cheeseburger deal at McDonald’s today for lunch, ended up ordering 137 Cheeseburgers and a Mc Chicken meal. we were pleased 🙂

    here is a picture! http://d.pr/dW4P

    Have a great day,
    – Adrian

  • I recently quit my job at a retail store where I worked in a large stockroom. being the only tech head there i was the first port of call whenever something went wrong.

    Anyway, after months of me telling people that maybe downloading dodgy torrents onto the work computer and going to sites that were 90% adverts (you’re our 1,000,000th visitor you win a free prize) was a bad idea, we got a virus.

    I was away when this happened but when I returned, discovered that the virus was masquerading itself as a virus checker and kept prompting to scan (which they did multiple times). Regardless to say this wreaked havoc on the computers and for the past two days they had been doing the majority of their work manually, wondering why the virus checker wasn’t fixing the problem.

    It was a quick fix, which made me laugh all the more that the problem was left for so long. nobody rang tech support for fear of getting in trouble.

  • I had an Antivirus once. A paid one and a regularly updated one. Inspite of that I got infected with a virus so bad that I had to do a reinstall.

    Then I moved to Fedora core. Never been happier.!

    I hope I win this one

  • I was doing some work for a school and they wanted me to look at a PC they had sitting in the corner of a room, as it “wasn’t working right”.

    Since it had been sitting under a desk on the carport for so long most of the vents were bock with dust. I shut it down unplugged everything and took it outside to clean out where I found more then dust in it.

    Ants had sent up a small nest between the bottom of the case and the motherboard, right under the CPU

  • The list of IT problems I have solved for my parents and grandparents is as long as I’d like something else to be…

    and the most frustrating one was this:

    My dear mum calls me at work… her computer isn’t working. It’s falling apart, she says.


    After a long discussion I learn that it’s the *mouse* that isn’t working.

    Consulting her over the phone, we try unplugging it and plugging it back in.

    ‘Is it plugged into a USB connection now?’
    ‘What’s that?’
    I remind her…
    ‘Yes, yes! It’s in a UBS!’ She insists.

    I don’t have an answer. I know I should just tell her to buy a new one, but I’m sure she’s confused the USB with an e-sata or some other damn thing.

    I’ll have to visit to see what it is…

    That evening I arrive.

    ‘Your mum is going spare over this damn mouse!’ Dad growls. ‘Just tell her to get a bloody new one!’

    Yeah, yeah. She’s just plugged it in wrong, I assure him.

    The mouse doesn’t work.

    The lights are on, but nobody’s home.

    I check the driver. The driver is fine. I check the USB ports. All ports are functioning optimally.

    Damn it.

    I go home, get a spare mouse and return with it.

    As we swap over the mouse, my mum holds up the other mouse and says ‘It’s been falling apart for a week.’

    How so?

    ‘Oh, just the bottom parts of it. You know, the round plasticy things you slide it on. I thought you’d be real proud of me when I fixed it, but it fell apart anyway!’

    Wait. You did what?

    ‘I fixed the mouse!’ She stated happily.

    ‘And *how* did you *fix* the mouse?’ I ask dangerously…

    ‘With sticky tape!’

    I peer at the bottom of the mouse, realising something that I’d missed with my cursory inspection earlier… Sure enough, there’s a line of sticky tape across the sensor.

    I remove the tape.

    The mouse works.

    Damn it.

    ‘Oh, thank you so much!’ Mum cheers and sits down at her computer, her worries all forgotten.

    ‘I knew your father and I had you for a reason.’ She states cheerfully as she checks her email…

  • Our first computer was put together by a friend of my dad’s when I was 13. It was running windows 95 and functioned normally for a year before it suddenly crashed one day and the PC Speaker inside began to play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” over and over again until it was turned off. We were stumped for months until finally we realised it was the CPU fan failing that caused it to play the song. To this day, if our current PC’s ever crash or show an error, we sing that song 😛

  • Well i my partners friend asked if i could take a look at the virus she seemed to have on her computer, After a quick look i found and cleaned the virus off with minimal fuss, But then she asked how it would of got on there, so she searched the internet history only to find that her husband had been searching for gay porn…. So awkwardly i just up and left and told her not to worry about payment. That was the last time i really saw her…

    • It’s might be worth mentioning the first rule of IT support: You never, ever look at anything not immediately related to the problem. Not the internet history, not the mail client’just to see if things are working’ , not even opening an innocent folder on the desktop.

      It doesn’t just avoid problems like this and have the moral high ground, it covers you legally. Some things are so illegal that you’re breaking the law if you see evidence and don’t go straight to the police, where you’d have to awkwardly explain why you were looking through somebodys browsing history.

      Next time…just explain the likely methods that viruses can arrive, and let her find out if she wants to. It’s safer for everybody.

  • He was a typical 21 year old young adult, quite tech literate. He knows how to install software & games, knows when to reset the router when the internet is acting up.
    So one day he needed to print his assignment, so he plugged his USB cable from the printer into the laptop but couldn’t make it work. He re-installed the driver and it still didn’t detect the printer. Turned it on & off, restart laptop multiple times, even had to google it up.
    Two hours later, he gave up and called me.
    “Is it plugged in?”, I asked
    “Yes, do you think I’m an idiot?”, he replied
    He proceeded to tell me what he has done etc.
    “Okay” I said “Try another USB port”
    “Oh… [long awkward silence]”
    Turned out that he plugged it in his LAN port in his laptop.*Facepalm*

  • Always doing bad things to their laptops and downloading nasty stuff by blissfully clicking away at links. I was resigned to another lenghty night trying to remotely solve all the problems of my 74 year old parents laptop the other night. But this time, instead of the usual ‘i’ve got all these messages saying i’ve got a virus’, my dad asks ‘where have my angry birds gone’?

  • I work as an IT service technician so I have lots of good stories. One that stands out is where this guy came into our store and he’d gotten it into his head that he was going to build his first PC. He got me to quote him on all these high-end parts and give him advice on how to fit them, etc. He asked about cooling options for the computer, I mentioned water cooling, he said “Oh yeah I can do that!”. I asked him “This is your first time building a PC, water cooling can be a little tricky, are you sure you don’t want us to just do that?”. He didn’t want us to do it, so we ordered in the parts, over $3000 worth. He picked them up, the next day we get a call saying the computer had sparked, started smoking and wouldn’t turn on and that “it’s the fault of the water cooling you suggested to me, I want my money back”.

    I got the customer to bring in the computer, first thing I noticed was there had been a hole cut into the side of the case, which I thought was odd. I opened up the side of the case, everything was wet, burnt black and stunk of smoke. Everything was completely destroyed. I asked him what the hell he had done and he replied “well I used water cooling, I cut a hole in the side of my case, then put a hose in and turned the hose one while the computer was going to cool it down”. I was shocked for a few seconds, and then I ran out the back and started pissing myself laughing, so funny!!

  • When moving my computer, I dropped it. A part inside the CPU broke. When I opened it up it was the graphic care what had it’s socket broken. I had my cousin with me and he had a bright idea. Place an eraser to gold it up. At that time it was the best idea. The problem was solved instantly. Every thing worked fine. It was summer. A couple of days later. There was something burning, the display on the computer started to turn on and off and then burned out. When an technician came, the showed the problem. It was the eraser that had melted and short circuted the entire motherboard. This is my story.

  • Working for a company where your boss is somewhat technically challenged also has it’s funny moments.
    Hey Dr Stef, can you burn something to
    cd for me? I tried and tried on my PC nothing seems to work.
    Sure thing, but let me look at your pc first. Is your drive working? Firmware ok?
    Maybe another program is preventing you from burning a cd?

    so, maybe you used a disc which already had something on it and was closed?

    I used this one here

    Gives me Phil Collins’s No Jacket Required Album…


  • A student at work came in to see me with his netbook and said it wasn’t working. I tried turning it on, but it wouldn’t switch on at all. I checked the battery. It was at 100%. I asked the student if he had dropped it or anything in the last few days. His response?

    The netbook had been through a mix of dog urine, salt water and possibly saliva. Dog had peed on the floor, mother went to put salt down to stop the smell. Student had spat in the puddle for the gross factor and his little brother crawled through it with netbook AND charger in tow.

    I looked him straight in the eye and said “Perhaps it’s best if you don’t have a netbook any more”

  • A friend called me claiming that his computer was BSOD’ing, found out after a little bit of probing that he had auto updates on and his Mrs was using the computer.. she thought when windows says “Windows is now installing updates” that it was a virus and power cycled the PC, a system restore was an easy fix.. but a humourous problem none the less.

  • When I first started using my new laptop in 2008 I decide to install Norton IS. Everything started ok once I was up and running, but a couple of weeks into the subscription I was having trouble trying to create a firewall rule. I tried the tech support via chat and the person was located in some other country and we must not have been on the same page because by the time I got done with his help my laptop was so messed up and me the same. I decided to try and call via the phone support and this time I ended up in the Phillipines with some guy that didn’t get my problem either. At that point forget the rule, just help me uninstall this mess. Me not being that tech savvy I let this guy take over my laptop because he said he could straighten in out in a couple of minutes. I was watching my computer go back to the stoneage right before my very eyes. I could not believe what this guy did. From a simple uninstall he ended up going into my registry and just deleting keys as he saw fit. The guy probably had good intentions to start, but by the time he was done, my laptop was so far gone I ended up reformatting to get it back to pristine. Lesson learned. I have come so far since then all due to that terrible experience with a probably very simple issue.

  • I was working on the an IT Service Desk and an employee calls and advises that his desktop icons aren’t working properly.

    He says he is clicking them but nothing is happening. I SMS into his PC and try double clicking on the desktop icons, and sure enough nothing is happening, they aren’t even getting selected. I tried a few things, and it was only when I went into the display properties that everything started to make sense.

    The desktop background picture in the display properties window had all of his icons on it.

    “Umm mate, i think someone is taking the piss out of you”

    I changed his desktop wallpaper and all the icons disappear – Some smartass noticed that he left his computer unlocked and took a screenshot of his desktop – set it as a wallpaper and then deleted all of his icons.


  • My friend was trying to build a new computer and it would not turn on at all.

    Eventually we figured out the PSU was to blame and while I had just picked it up when it was still plugged in (Test bench setup) my friend switched the voltage input from 230v to 110v and it blew apart in my hand.

    Afterwards I found that he had dropped a screw in there and it must have been causing a short….. That bastard almost killed me!!!

  • I worked for a telecomms company and the boss approached with a thick pile of pages of data. Names, phone numbers and other ID details but he needed them in Name, ID, phone number order to import into some other program. He asked me to type them out in the correct format. I used OCR for the bulk of the work and was about 20 pages into checking the results and I popped into his office to ask a question about the data and he swung around to look at an excel spreadsheet on his PC. He had a soft copy the whole time but didn’t know how to re-arrange the columns so he just hit print and passed it to me. 12 years later and I’m still telling that story.

  • Sorry I have another I just have to tell!

    I use to work in tech support for the second… wait… now third biggest Internet provider in Australia and had to deal with some pretty stupid people.

    One of the worst days I had to endure, this guy called saying he could not access the internet and one of the first things I’ll ask is what modem do you have and what are the lights doing and a common response is what is a modem (I know right thats bad enough) but this guy took 10 mins to figure it out, I was quoting brand names, common locations, even trying to get him to follow the phone cord from the wall. Anyways he eventually found it and it was not switched on (which was the issue) and he said at the end of the call “why doesn’t it have the word modem written on it?”. At this stage I was ropable and replied “maybe the same reason a car doesn’t have CAR written on it, people who own them generally know what it is!!!”

    Feels good to vent, Thanks!

  • My boss came to me with his laptop saying that the speakers were not working and the computer was unresponsive. Upon receiving the laptop the first thing i did was to check the processes running to see if the CPU was being hogged, but nothing unusual was found, in continuing my search i decided to check the power management, the problem was found, somehow he managed to set the maximum processor state to 1%, setting it back to 100% fixed nearly all his problems, one more thing was left, no windows updates had being applied in over two years as well as no anti-virus was installed. After installing all updates and some anti-virus software I handed back his laptop and shocked at how easy the fix was and now he allows windows updates.

  • When I worked in IT Tech Support for the University of Tasmania I had a user call me up one morning as she wanted help to burn some files onto a CD and then email it. I said to her “so you want to burn the files onto a CD, and then you want to email the CD?” to which she confirmed with a “Yeah, that’s what I said”!!!

    I then had to explain to her how email works and that a CD couldn’t be emailed 😀

    The same user then called up a couple of weeks later wanting to delete files from a CD-R so she could burn new ones on the same CD :S

  • I’m a student at Wollongong University doing Computer Science, I also have a friend doing an Economics degree.

    One day I went into his lecture as I had nothing else to do and saw the entire room huddling around the computer at the front of the lecture. I go down and find out that the lecturer is doing the lecture from the 17″ monitor out the front because no-one can figure out why the projector isn’t working. I asked the obvious things like have you checked power, vga cables plugged in etc. I walk over to the projector to find that the protective cap that goes over the lens was still on…sigh.

  • I used to tech support for one of the first wireless internet providers. Every week I’d get a call from the same customer. Every week he’d be whispering and every week he’d want me to check his signal in a new location.
    Ok or not he’d always ask me if the government could track him at this new location and tell me that a secret government agency was trying to catch him for some experiment.
    Tin foil hats ahoy!

  • this is a no brainer i got my 75 yr old mother with early onset alziemers onto facebook 3 mths ago and i still get a phone call almost every day with a question and yesterday was a horrible day with the new look to facebook took me 20 mins to calm her down thinking she had been a victim of identity theft and someone else was using her facebook page for illegal purposes .. welcome to my world


  • Back in DOS days I did PC support at the Minister’s office.

    A “very important” report had been written. After it had been approved a covering letter was written.

    One of his secretaries was asked to copy the covering letter to the report.

    She typed:


    and overwrote the only copy of the report.

    I was asked if I could recover the report.

    The word processor was IBM DisplayWrite4 which used EBCDIC rather than ASCII. When you viewed the disk with a disk viewer all you saw was gobbledygook.

    Fortunately, I knew that the Norton Utilities hex editor had an EBCDIC option.

    It took me several hours but I managed to recover all of the document.

    The secretary was very relieved.

    She invited me around to her place for dinner and …

    The best payoff for IT support I ever received.

  • My boyfriend’s internet didn’t work.

    He thought it was because there was a blackout.He called TPG to get it limited and for TPG to check the line.
    He replaced the power pack. He replaced his router.The internet still didn’t work with a new modem? Did they ruin the line?What?

    But what was the cause which I fixed when he finally asked me?
    Well, the router has to be logged into first! And well, that was that. The internet worked. All that trouble could have been avoided. Including having to ask me. =D

  • Rocking up one day home, and then having your sister crying on the floor because she can not get on MSN and Facebook because the computer got blue screened. Turns out she was trying to download music (to get it for free) and an ad says you can download free RAM she thought she wanted to do something nice for me and get some free RAM. So she clicked it, and of course she has a virus, and it pops up, she freaked out and thought how could I fix this, hence she googles it. What happens? She deletes system32. Teenage sisters thinking they know everything, I had to do a complete re format and install windows again, I swear kids and social networking and technology, plus I even went to go put Mozilla Firefox on their and she cried because she told me IE was 10x better?

  • My uncle’s custom made pc had crashed. The hard drive’s RAID had been totally screwed. After using heaps of linux utilities and finding RAID drivers for the SATA drive, I was able to reinstall XP Pro SP3 and managed to get all the data back.

  • Earlier this year we upgraded our internet service. When the job was complete my younger sister asked me to have a look at her computer as it would no longer connect to our wireless network.

    “No problem” i reply being the resident IT guy, after spending 5 minutes looking through her internet connection settings i notice she’s got a list of over 30 wireless access points many of which had duplicates.

    I notice that the previous connection she was using to connect to the wireless network was predefining her DNS!!!!

    This single little string of digits had solely been responsible for YEARS of dropped & poor connectivity for everyone else in the house & hundreds of dollars of technical solutions to attempt to resolve, bypass the issue or simply on upgrading existing hardware.

    I remove ALL the junk wireless access points & inquire as to if she’s been maintaining her machine since i last “cleaned it”, of course she sheepishly smiles and says “no, i haven’t had time”

    I install my preferred registry, junk removal & multi-fix application. Run the application & set it for a full scan.

    30,000 errors (& the majority of 2hrs of waiting) later & a newly created wireless network with it’s OWN name & Roberts your fathers brother

    No one has had connection problems in the house since.

    I still wonder if the problem would have ever been solved if not for her inability to reconnect bringing it to my attention.
    *Shakes Head*

  • I had built a computer system for a friend who was in her 80’s and I was surprised when I got a phone call from her 10 minutes after having set it up at her home saying that the mouse wasn’t working. I went back and asked her to show me what she was doing and she had the mouse in her hand lifted off the surface hovering around in mid air and she said see it doesn’t work

  • I was at a friend’s place and their computer was on the fritz. She said it had been doing this for a while now – intermittently rebooting and all kinds of random stuff. I open the case to find the wire to the CPU fan has been cut. The only other person to have opened the case in the last few months was a ‘professional’ tech support guy. He either did this himself or was so incompetent that he missed it completely.

    Sad but true.

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