Why can't my PC access eBay suddenly?
April 26, 2004 7:41 PM   Subscribe

My s.o. needs help with a technical problem on his home PC: "I cannot open any eBay page on my Internet Explorer. This just started last night. I can open all other internet pages, just none related to eBay. Is there a virus that specifically prevents people from opening eBay pages? This is really frustrating, I have run virus and spyware checks and found nothing, but I cannot think of anything else that could prevent access to a certain domain. Please help."
Anybody got any ideas (besides, obviously, switching to a Mac)?
posted by turbanhead to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Maybe you should just buy a ....


Sorry, missed that last line there.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:48 PM on April 26, 2004

Find the hosts file ... (C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc) and open it with a text editor. I'm betting that some malicious program edited that file so that the ebay domain points to nowhere. Look for and delete any line that includes "ebay" in it.
posted by crunchland at 7:50 PM on April 26, 2004

And you could try an alternate browser like Firefox to at least make those last minute bids until you figure out what's wrong.
posted by bcwinters at 8:07 PM on April 26, 2004

Also, tell him to open a command window (Start > Run > command.com) and running the command:

tracert ebay.com.

If it isn't a problem with his machine, he should notice some sort of indication by tracerouting (i.e. incredibly long pings, dropped connections, asterisks, etc.) If any of those appear, it's an issue with the pipe between his IP and eBay's, and will hopefully be routed around by the self-healing Internet shortly.
posted by Danelope at 8:35 PM on April 26, 2004

This probably isn't helpful, but I had the same exact problem with a computer I used at my workplace (AskMe Question Here) - some interesting suggestions, and we did narrow it down to the hosts file, but I never solved it.
posted by anastasiav at 9:33 PM on April 26, 2004

What happens when you try to visit eBay? What exactly appears on the screen? Does the PC power off? Does IE crash? Do you instead get a web page for Indian casinos? What does IE say? Nobody can answer your question without more info.
posted by Voivod at 11:27 PM on April 26, 2004

Try going to a command line and typing:

ipconfig /flushdns

... and then trying again in the browser.
posted by humuhumu at 1:28 AM on April 27, 2004

I had a similar problem once when I fiddled with IE's privacy options to block cookies and used AdSubtract to block referrer information. eBay does not like that.

Side note: I've often remarked at how quick people are to assume that their computer problems are caused by a "virus" (or these days, spyware). 99% of computer problems have nothing to do with malicious code.
posted by profwhat at 7:26 AM on April 27, 2004

"99% of computer problems have nothing to do with malicious code."

You have NO idea how much crap people will permit on their machines. It's utterly alarming. Give a 12 year old kid access to a Windows machine and Internet Explorer for a couple of days and the box will exhibit serious performance and reliability problems directly related to malware.

In any case, the first and foremost thing to try is renaming the hosts file once malware's been eliminated as a possibility. There is almost no good reason for the file to exist at all on the average Windows installation. (Some people do use it to defeat lookups of ad servers, but I'd argue that's a misapplication.)

On NT-like systems, it's \WINNT\System32\drivers\etc\hosts. Rename it to something else entirely and reboot the box. The location's different on Windows 9x, but if I remember correctly it's something like \WINDOWS\System\hosts.
posted by majick at 10:39 AM on April 27, 2004

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