It’s all too common. In-laws who seem to find every spyware, malware, and virus out there. And then they expect a family member to clean up their systems for FREE ! No matter what you do, they disregard your warnings, fail to keep the protections you’ve installed updated, and in general have become a pain in the posterior.

What brought this to mind was the following email I got from a friend of mine in California in which he stated:

My in-law (wife’s sister) is a single mom with four kids. Mom has no control over the computer and lets the kids surf wildly on the Internet, clicking every banner ad and downloading anything they wish. The system gets so clogged with junk that it takes me about eight hours of work to clean it up. I’m doing this about once a month. I can’t say anything because I don’t want to upset the wife. But after working on computers all week to make a living, I am tired of having to set aside one weekend just to clean up this computer. Any suggestions?

This is the gist of what I recommended. I know it’s a difficult situation, especially when family is involved, and you feel like you are being taken advantage of. My only suggestion is tough love. Which is easy to say, but hard to implement. The first one you need to get on your side is your wife. And you need to do this slowly and not dump this on her all at once by saying “Your sister is a dummy and I’m not doing this anymore!” Wrong. Drop subtle hints here and there, using some humor. Like if the phone rings, say, “I hope it’s not your sister with another computer problem!” (make sure to say it with a huge smile on your face.)

Next, train the mom or oldest child on how to clean the system. Provide them with a disk of the cleanup utilities you use and train them on how to use them. Show them how time consuming it is to clean a system. They may not realize how much time you actually are spending to keep it clean.

Last, but not least. And this is hard. If you are still stuck doing the cleanup, do a lousy job. Clean up the system halfway, leaving some junk on it. When they call again, which they will, say this is much worse than you originally thought and you’ll have to take it home for a ‘few days.’ Keep it for a week. Maybe ten days. When they call asking where the PC is, tell them it’s really, really bad; it’s a really big job and you are doing your best. You know how it goes, just pretend you are the auto mechanic who’s working on your car. Every job is a ‘really big job,’ ‘worse than I thought,’ ‘might be tomorrow, next day at the latest, or first thing next week!’

You will be surprised that, when mom doesn’t have the built-in computer babysitter for a week or so, she may come to the realization that it would be in her best interest to try and work with you to keep the computer clean.

That’s it. I’ve got to go. My grandson just called me and said the new software game I bought him (Cars) is not working properly! LOL! What can I say? I’m easy.

[tags]spyware, viruses, free help, cleanup, relatives, family[/tags]