Verify Action Type for File Association

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Berlin B. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

As part of my stringent preventive maintenance plan, I recently ran AdAware 6.0 and Norton AntiVirus software on my PC. Norton reported a number of 'at risk' files on my system. After I ran AdAware 6.0, the document files listed in the My Documents folder now show a .DOC extension with no associative icon.

When I try to click these files, a window appears and asks me to select the appropriate file extension. It also warns me that if I select the wrong type, the file may become unusable. I was unsure what to do, so I ran System Restore to repair this error. The problem is that I've run into this dilemma before and now it seems that I'm stuck in an endless loop.

Question: is it safe to delete the 'at risk' files Norton found? And, are the .DOC files listed in the My Documents folder Spyware or 'at risk' as well? I hope you can help."

My response:

Although your circumstances appear to be related, they are in fact two separate problems.

The 'at risk' files that Norton found are most likely virus infected and cannot be repaired. As far as I understand, Norton places 'at risk' files in quarantine. To remove these files, visit the quarantine section and remove any files you don't recognize as being significant.

As for the .DOC file problem with respect to AdAware 6.0: The only logical way I can see AdAware removing your .DOC file extensions is if your .DOC files were associated with a Spyware program.

In this case, AdAware has done its job by removing the Spyware from your system. Subsequently, your .DOC files need to be re-associated with the proper program (I.E.: MS Word or Word Pad).

If you are unsure of what program is associated with your .DOC files, you can look at its Action Type under File Types. To do this:

  • Open My Computer, click Tools -> Folder Options.  
  • Go to File Types, and scroll down to .DOC extensions.  
  • Click the Advance button, then double click the "Open" attribute. You will then see a new window appear which states 'Application used to perform action'. The correct association should be MS Word or Word Pad. If it is not, this is most likely your problem.

Other possibilities?

Although unlikely, it is possible that there is a bug in AdAware which is causing your .DOC files to revert to a blank association. On the same note, it is equally likely that your registry is corrupt and is causing AdAware to produce this strange behavior. In either case, using System Restore is only a temporary fix.

Side note: You can download and use Registry Mechanic to test your registry for errors. There is also an excellent utility called Associate This which locks your file extensions so this doesn't happen to you again. Both programs were reviewed in the Gazette (just click on the corresponding link).

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