If you suspect that your computer may be sending automated queries for any reason, this article will help you eliminate the most probable causes.
Usually, when an installed software application is the cause, it will be through deliberate intention from the person who installed it.
When that’s not the situation, the reason for this happening is usually from some infection or malware that has crept its way onto your computer.
There is no reason to be alarmed. In these types of scenarios, things seem far worse than they really are.
Let’s proceed through some steps in order to resolve the problem.
What is an automated query?
An automated query is a request that is sent to a computer, server, an application, or any other device but typically generated from software like a daemon, processes or services, malware, viruses, or ordinary computer software.
Steps to stop automated queries being sent from your computer
Follow the steps to the best of your ability. All of them are important to give you the best chance to have the most common causes resolved.
This is not a guide to help resolve any network issues, this is purely aimed at resolving issues with your computer.
1. Install antivirus and antimalware software
Because this is one of the most likely causes of automated queries being sent from your computer, we will start here first.
Download the following software packages, install them, and perform scans to start removing unwanted critters.
- Avast Antivirus: Use the free version, it will do a decent enough job finding any viruses. Download it from the official website: Download Avast Antivirus.
- Malwarebytes: Again, the free version will do nicely. This will get rid of most kinds of unwanted malware. Download it from the official website: Download Malwarebytes.
After installing these two items, run a full scan with both of them. Be patient with the scans. They take time, but it is so worth it!
I would also recommend that you run a boot-time scan with Avast to allow the antivirus to scan freely without other processes interfering with it.
Oftentimes this whole step will be the one to stop automated queries from being sent from your computer.
But let’s make sure that all the steps are taken to make sure that you have the best chances to put an end to the problem. So let’s continue.
2. Clean up, or change your browser
Most commonly, Chrome is used as the browser of choice. For the purposes of this situation, I’d like to recommend that you install and use Mozilla Firefox.
If you prefer holding onto your current browser, it’s totally fine, simply close it and leave it closed while using Firefox in the meanwhile until you get the automated query situation resolved.
If you are already using Firefox, it will be most beneficial to give it a full reset to start over fresh.
If you follow these steps properly and your issues go away, you’ll know you have a browser issue if you return to your original browser and the problem returns.
3. Cleanup Registry items
Open the Registry editor by right-clicking on the Start Menu icon and left-clicking on ‘Run’ (Or by pressing the Windows key and R). Type ‘regedit’ (without quotes) into the text box and left-click on the ‘OK’ button.
Important: Make sure you backup the registry or set a system restore point before changing any settings.
Open the navigation tree until you can left-click on the ‘Run’ folder:
Remove everything except (You can remove entries by right-clicking your mouse on it and left-clicking on delete):
- Anything to do with your antivirus software.
Other recognizable entries like Adobe or Xbox gaming are entirely up to you if you don’t want them to run on startup.
Deleting these specific entries won’t adversely affect anything, it just means that these things will have to start up when you run the programs relying on these startup items.
If you use something very often that has an entry related to it, there won’t be much point to remove it.
Repeat the process for these Registry folders:
After that, close the Registry Editor.
4. Check for any suspicious looking processes
This step by its very nature is not black and white. It’s not easy to spot untrustworthy processes at a glance, so it’s up to your best judgment or discretion to decide whether or not a process has to be investigated or stopped.
There is no clear way to explain whether or not a process is bad, so try your best. Over time you will learn more about computers and how operating systems work. As you gain experience, this process will become easier for you.
Here is a list that you can look over to give you some indication about some commonly known harmful processes. You can search for the process or go through the list and look out for the colored dot representing something bad.
Open the Task Manager by right-clicking on the Start Menu icon and click on Task Manager. Make sure that ‘More Details’ is expanded in order to see more options.
Under the ‘Processes’ tab, you will see most things currently running. Look at the names of each item and try to identify unusual names that look out of place.
The link with the list of common processes that can be harmful to your computer has plenty of examples of what looks unusual.
Right-click on the process that you want to examine, then left-click on ‘Properties’.
Left-click on the ‘Details’ tab to see more about the process. If you don’t see details like a product name and version, it’s enough to get your attention, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad process.
After that, left-click on the ‘General’ tab and observe the ‘Location’.
Having the location is valuable. You will be able to see the exact file that is running as that process and take action to either uninstall the program based on the location information or to actually end the process and deleting it manually.
If you find that an item returns after deleting it, and you are sure that it’s something that shouldn’t be there, try and get rid of some others first and come back to the one that you couldn’t delete before.
Tip: If you prefer, you can rather click on the ‘Details’ tab in the Task Manager to view a more static list.
5. Cleanup programs that start when your computer starts
In the Task Manager, click on the ‘Startup’ tab. There will be a list of all the programs that execute on startup.
You can click on the item that you don’t want to run at startup, and click on the ‘Disable’ button to stop it from starting up in the future.
I recommend disabling anything without a reputable publisher name.
You can disable anything else you don’t won’t want running on startup. The fewer things you have running on startup, the more computer resources you claim back on your next startup.
6. Cleanup your drive
Quite often unwanted files end up sitting in various temporary folders. Follow this procedure to clean your drive up from junk files or leftover files from previous software installations and updates.
Open the Run box by right-clicking the Start Menu icon and left-clicking on ‘Run’. Type the following (without quotes): ‘%temp% into the run text box. Then click OK to proceed.
A folder in your Windows File Explorer should open and select all the files by clicking on ‘Select All’ or by pressing Ctrl + A on your keyboard.
With all the files now selected press the Delete key on your keyboard. Alternatively, right-click on any of the highlighted files and left-click on delete.
Skip over any files that cannot be deleted, and in some cases you might have to end up clicking on cancel to finish the process, but that’s fine.
In the left-hand pane click on ‘This PC’. Then right-click on ‘Local Disk (C:)’ then left-click on ‘Properties’.
Click on ‘Disk Cleanup’, then check all the boxes under ‘Files to delete’ except for ‘Downloads’.
Click on ‘Clean up system files’ and once that has been completed, click on ‘OK’.
All the waste files should now be cleaned off your system.
7. Uninstall unused programs
Even though uninstalling unwanted software is relatively safe, you must pay attention to specifically what it is that you are uninstalling.
Note down all the programs that you uninstall. This is handy if you ever need an application you’ve used that you may need to reinstall again.
How to uninstall software
Left-click on ‘Apps’ to open the Apps and Features window. You will see a list is generated with all your installed programs.
Left-click on the item you wish to uninstall and left-click on the ‘Uninstall’ button.
How to test for unwanted automated queries
This is one of those times where viewing the capturing your network data might not help unless you have good knowledge about network systems or computers.
In which case I doubt that you would be reading this article. But if you are still interested in taking a look at some data, have a look over here to see how you could download and install an application to capture some network data.
After performing all these steps, give the system a restart. You might have to repeat the steps a few times to make sure everything that shouldn’t be there is gone.
Some types of infections have processes that recopy files back to the original location, making it a bit trickier to get rid of them.
This whole procedure is also great for cleaning up your system from any viruses or infections in general.
After that, automated queries being sent from your computer should be a thing of the past. If you are still having problems after trying all of these steps, I would advise that you take your computer to a professional.
It’s definitely something you want to fix as it could be a serious security threat and your ISP may contact you if it gets bad enough.
So take steps to make sure that this is dealt with so you can enjoy a safer and less vulnerable computer.