How Can I Get Links to Open

Recently something has changed. Using XP Pro XP3...when I try to open link (using IE8 or Chrome), rather than link opening, it tries to save/download to folder as "executable file.exe".  I figure a registry edit got corrupted or removed when I did some routine maintenance/optimization.  How can I get my ability to open links (not sure if is isolated to links in my emails/MS office 2003/Outlook) or more broad
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It sounds like you might have somekind of malware. Have you tried doing a full virus/spyware scan?
wkittilsAuthor Commented:
windows defender has been running normally, but I will re-run. Do you recommend any other program (freeware)...while I may be wrong, I suspected my clearing of registry and other file optimization , an action taken prior to the problem cropping up, was a potential cause. I guess I could use a restore point? or is there some way to restore some level of defaults to whatever process/s are involved with opening a link....could not figure out how to some sort of file association (e.g., open with).
Trying to revert to a restore point might work if it was just some kind of freak, non-malicious thing.

Otherwise many viruses will embed themselves in the restore points so that they will still be there even after a restore to a point prior to the problem.

I would download and run malwarebytes to diagnose.

Also for a gernal purpose antivirus I highly recommend Windows Security Essentials, its free and I feel like it catches as much or more than anything paid on the market.
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wkittilsAuthor Commented:
i meant to say i use windows security essentials
I ran malwarebytes freeware (CNET 5 star rated download).
Still having same problem.

wkittilsAuthor Commented:
i've rebooted. i am fairly sure I do not have any malware or spyware. To rephrase my question, how do I instruct to have links open up in a browser
My real question would be:

What program did you use to
"clearing of registry and other file optimization , an action taken prior to the problem cropping up, was a potential cause." ?

Does the executable file that it attempts to download change with pages and applications or is it always the same file?

In general, any anchor tag html link will attempt to load the content it points to, so if it is another webpage it should not try to download anything.

You could also try to boot into safe mode (pressing F8 when or slightly before you see the XP splash screen and try running malwarebytes again.

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wkittilsAuthor Commented:
i used wise disk cleaner and wise registry cleaner.

screenshot shows
Located Link Browser
My documents
Files of type exectuble files (*exe)

It's as if I am trying to save the link to my documents folder, but there is no file to save into the "file name" window.
ok try this:

On the desktop, double-click My Computer.
On the Tools menu, click Folder Options, and then click the File Types tab.
In the Registered File Types list, click URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol, click Advanced, and then click Edit.
In the Actions box, type open.
In the Application used to perform action box, locate Internet Explorer (Iexplore.exe), and then click Open.
In the Application box, type IExplore, and then click OK.

from (
wkittilsAuthor Commented:
ok, that worked.  Can i ask yo one more related question.
I normally used chrome, but i uninstalled it when I first ran into this problem.
I have yet to re-install.
will this fix work, or will i have to go in an do something to get chrome to work
wkittilsAuthor Commented:
and before I forget...THANK YOU.
think this problem would have shown itself in any browser that uses the registered file types functionality of XP. Not positive but betting chrome would have similar issues with that problem.
no problem glad to help and hear you got it fixed!
wkittilsAuthor Commented:
Does this mean that I have to repeat your procedure and then substitute chrome exe file. I am awarding the points now but would appreciate clarificaiton on your last point. I did have the same problem using chrome, and from you answer I  understand that was to be expected...i.e., same problem for any browser.....are you saying chrome should work ok with this fix...i guess I could  just install chrome, see what happens, and if the problem reappears, substitute chrome for IE in your instructions

You are correct this will fix it (or likewise break it) for all browsers on the machine. Chrome should now work as expected.

I would use the built-in functionality in chrome to make it the default browser, it will take care to make the types of changes you just made.
Quick check, try and log on as another user account if you have one, try to repeat the issues you have highlighted and see what happens.
I usually recommend Kapersky Internet Security, though other products are decent, the full suite covers antivirus as well as internet issues, related to Outlook, etc.
wkittilsAuthor Commented:
thanks for the clarification

you are preaching to the choir about using chrome

if i parse you comment closely, i think you are saying install chrome and then while in chrome, use chrome function to set chrome as default browser rather than through another interface to set default browser

showing my ignorance, i do not know what you mean by log on as another user account. I guess I could log on as admin....I will check out are saying install this in additiion to windows security essentials (or my recent download of malwarebytes free version)
That is correct.

it seems as if andrewmcc still thinks you have some sort of malware. I am fairly confident that you do not if things started working after the change you just made.

wkittilsAuthor Commented:
everything is working fine now.

i was fairly sure no malware. i am careful about what i open and i have Windows Sec Essentials running on that machine (and Symantic Corp AV) on several other computers/home network. And I run antispy regularly
Word of advice, find one very good antivirus & internet security software and only use one, don't mix it with two or three or more.
I'm not biased towards anything in particular, though the Microsoft Security Essentials is a good piece of software, I'd prefer something a little more all round, especially with virus or indirect threats hence something like Kapersky or Nod32 a/v and i/s checker.
Read some of the forum posts for antivirus and internet security recommendations, there are a few listed on Experts Exchange, which are worth a good read and will cover basic low level to beginner tips to mid level.
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