Fix: What To Do if Removing a Virus Blocks Executable (.EXE) Files From Opening

I have recently observed that after removing certain fake anti-spyware viruses (such as “Windows Security Center” or “Anti Virus 2010″), all executable (.exe) files will no longer open.  No matter what file you try to open – iTunes, Firefox, or even Malwarebytes – they will not open because they are all .exe files.

To fix this problem, I came across a process that fixes the registry keys that have been changed due to this virus.

The Problem

When attempting to open any executable file, you see the image shown below.  It is a notification asking you to choose what program you would like to open the file with, which means Windows does not understand how to open .exe files.

The Solution

Disclaimer: Before you start this guide, please keep in mind that this is an advanced procedure and you could potentially end up doing more harm than good by following this guide.  If you are not comfortable with the procedures mentioned in this guide, please call your computer’s manufacturer for support or bring it to an authorized PC technician.  We can take no responsibility for damage done to your system by following this guide.

Step 1: Open the Run dialog box by going to Start -> Run or pressing WIN + R.  Then open the command prompt by typing “command” (instead of typing “cmd” because “cmd” links to an .exe file which will not open).  “Command” links to a .com file which is not affected by the virus.

Step 2: Once you have opened the Command Prompt, type “regedit” and hit enter.

If you can’t open regedit (which is certainly possible because it is an executable file itself), try typing the following commands, one at a time, and press enter after each one.

cd \

cd \windows

copy regedit.exe regedit.com

start regedit.com

This makes a copy of regedit in the form of a .com file so it can be opened.

Step 3: As a precaution you should back up your registry.  To do this, go to File->Export to save a backup file.  You should save this backup to a USB flash drive or other type of portable media just in case you can’t access your hard drive.

Leave the Registry Editor open after you have made a backup because you may need it in the next step.

Step 4: You will now need to run a special registry file that will re-establish the file associations for executable files.  This file is specially tailored for your operating system, so make sure you use the correct file.  You will need to right click these files and select Save As to download them to your computer.

After downloading the correct file for your operating system, you need to try opening it to add those values to the registry.

a) You can first try double clicking the file (or right clicking it and selecting Merge).  If this works you can skip to Step 5.

b) If a) didn’t work, go back to the Registry Editor which you opened in Step 2 and go to File -> Import.  Navigate to the .reg file you downloaded and select it.

c) If neither of those worked, check out the final section of this guide for more help.  Windows XP users can check out this guide which offers the registry fix in a .COM file format.

Step 5: If you were able to successfully install the registry fix for your operating system, you should be good to go now.  Restart your computer and try opening any executable files to see if it worked.

If you encounter problems after changing your registry, you can restore the backup you made in Step 3.

If you still have problems

I’ve dealt with a few computers that have been afflicted with this problem, and I have discovered that there is a tremendous amount of variability that can occur.  If this guide wasn’t able to help you, I recommend checking out the following guides which offer more solutions:

If you’re still stuck after that, post in the comments below and provide as much information as possible.

Remember, if in doubt: call your computer’s manufacturer for support or contact an authorized PC technician.  We can take no responsibility for damage done to your system by following this guide.

Cleanup Your Computer With CCleaner

As a computer begins to age, many problems can arise such as slow startup, slow program execution and increased memory usage.  Many of these problems are caused by improper shutdowns, viruses, excess temporary files, and residual uninstall files.

CCleaner is a free program, available at http://www.ccleaner.com, which will give your computer the thorough cleaning that it deserves.

CCleaner is able to clean Cookies, Temporary Internet Files, History and Search results from all popular web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.  CCleaner also removes temporary files from Windows and other third-party applications.

Download and Install CCleaner

  1. Download CCleaner from http://www.ccleaner.com.
  2. Install CCleaner.
  3. Select Install Options as shown below
  4. CCleaner
    CCleaner Install Options
  5. Continue through the installation process.
  6. Run CCleaner.

Now that you have CCleaner installed and running, it is time to select what you would like to clean.  As there are many options, it is important to select the correct ones so that you do not lose important information.

Cleaner

CCleaner Cleaner

Once CCleaner is running, the Cleaner button should be selected on the left side of the window.  Once selected, you will see a list of check boxes of the many different cleaning options available to you.  Although all of the options are able to clean your computer, the most important options fall under the System and Advanced categories.

There is also the Applications tab near the top of the window.  Under this tab, you will find that CCleaner has the ability to remove any temporary files associated with the listed applications.  Many of these programs have the ability to remove the files, but CCleaner groups all of these features together.

Once you have selected the Windows features and Applications that you wish to clean, you can click the ‘Analyze’ button on the bottom of the window to preview the number of items that will be removed.  Once the analysis has finished, complete by clicking ‘Run Cleaner’ in the bottom-right corner.  Note: You can skip the analysis step and click ‘Run Cleaner’ first.

The time it takes to analyze and remove the files will depend on the speed of your computer and the number of files CCleaner must scan.

Registry

CCleaner Registry Button

Many computer problems can also be caused by obsolete or improperly removed registry entries.  A cluttered registry can be caused from the following action:

  • Improperly uninstall software.
  • Frequently installing or uninstalling software.
  • Viruses/Spyware
  • Driver problems.

CCleaner has a very powerful Windows Registry cleaner.  This registry cleaner can be used to scan your computer’s registry for problems such as:

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more…

From CCleaner.com

The Registry cleaner will often resolve many problems associated with the Windows Registry by scanning the Registry and removing any unnecessary entries.  CCleaner gives you the option to backup the removed entries, so that you may restore them if you have any problems.

Final Steps

Once you have ran both of the above cleaners, it is important that you restart your computer.  Once the computer has restarted, it may be necessary to run CCleaner another time to removed any residual entries.

What has your experience been with CCleaner?  What is the most number of Registry items CCleaner has removed from a system?  How many MB or GB of files were removed?  Share your experiences in the comments below.