Apparently my wife's laptop has a problem with Libya
September 3, 2014 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My spouse's (Win7) laptop will not follow links, and I am utterly flummoxed. In every case, the browser simply treats it as though the server is unavailable, even when it's not. Halp?

This is true irrespective of browser used.
This is true whether or not a software firewall (Win Defender) is on.
This is true whether anti-malware is off/on installed/uninstalled.
No proxies are being used. No hardware firewall to contend with. No system connection blacklists are running.
No other site seems to be impacted.
No fiddly networking rules are configured.
Browser(s) cache(s) & registry flushed completely to no avail.
My own Win7 laptop in the same room, on the same network, has no issues.
The laptop has been deep-scanned for malware (MWB, Ad-Aware).
This is a relatively new thing, but spouse cannot put a finger on precisely when this happened.
Links shortened with & work fine.
The laptop seems otherwise fully operational.

I don' t know if it's merely not handling the 301 requests from this domain or ...? I am at a loss. Any assistance in diagnosing or finding tools to diagnose just WTF is going on here would be a boon. If you have a "Hey, dipshit, did you check this?" fix, that would equally great. Thanks!
posted by Emperor SnooKloze to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
What happens if you simply go to the root of
What about
posted by jozxyqk at 12:40 PM on September 3, 2014

Have you checked the system hosts file for rogue entries?

Perhaps also try manually setting up her network adapter to use a different DNS server than the DHCP default (e.g. the Google run ones - and

The Fiddler software can be useful in debugging web connections. It should at least show you whether there's contact being made with the remote server or not.
posted by leo_r at 12:43 PM on September 3, 2014

I also came here to suggest checking the system hosts file and perhaps resetting it to the default.

I was unable to watch ESPN3 and I figured out it because malware I accidentally downloaded a while back blocked me from popular web streaming video services via the system hosts file. It blocked ESPN3 in every web browser, which is how I figured out the malware made system-wide changes to my configurations. The hosts file was still messed up even after I uninstalled and scrubbed the malware from my system. The malware wanted me to download some special video player that was a virus, hence why it was blocking sites like ESPN3.

That said, I'm not sure why links would be blocked, but who knows. Maybe one of's competitors has a virus going around.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:46 PM on September 3, 2014

My DNS resolution says the IP address for is

So you could check if your browser can open -- that will determine whether it's a problem in the way your computer is resolving the name (e.g. a faulty hosts file) or some other blockage.

If it is not a DNS resolution problem then at a Command Prompt you could enter tracert and maybe see where the connection is blocked. This may not solve the problem, but could help by adding extra information.
posted by anadem at 1:48 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to quickly drop a note: will not work as the SSL certificate will probably not be issued for the IP. Also, in this case without the S DOES work but might not for other sites, depending upon how the webserver is configured.

That said, yeah, probably hosts file.
posted by destructive cactus at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2014

Thanks to those (including one user who memailed me) for suggesting the DNS issue. I set both laptops to use the Google DNS servers rather than the DHCP defaults just to ensure that was not the problem - no change in behavior.

Thanks to leo_r and AppleTurnover for the hosts file suggestion. I had run the traceroute to earlier and it hung up immediately at the localhost, which I didn't dig into immediately but when I read your suggestions about the host file it became plain that that must be the problem. When I looked at the astonishing raft of cruft on there, was pointing back at localhost for reasons I cannot fathom.

So, fixed. I roto-rootered my own while I was at it. My wife teaches and so gets tons of student files she has to deal with - they are no doubt the vector of much of the malware we end up scrubbing periodically. Cheers, all.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:44 AM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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