- Norton won't update (error when processing updates)
- Windows Update will no install some updates (it will install some and fail on others)
- When you download software (like Java, Malwarebytes, etc.) and try to install it, errors result (file corruption errors, extraction errors)
- Web pages look funny (sometimes, other times they're okay)
Further troubleshooting led to suspect a router problem when I noticed that 3 different computers exhibited the same problems and the only thing they had in common was the Netgear router. I also noticed that some of my friends reported the same problems on their computers, and they used different Internet Service Providers (ISP's). But again, a Netgear router was a common denominator.
My problems were fixed when I bypassed the router and rebooted the computer and modem. According to my ISP, they started getting calls from customers last Friday (17Aug09) - so whatever happened most likely happened that day.
I suspect that the firmware (software inside the router) became corrupted somehow. There's only two real ways this can really happen .... either a corrupted update was installed or it became corrupted while internet surfing. I know two of the routers haven't been updated, so I suspect a harmful website may have caused the problem. Facebook is a common target for viruses and malware and this may be another common denominator.
Sadly, my attempts to update the firmware manually and rest router back to factory settings have failed so far. I'm still working on the problem and will share any answers I find here.
But in the mean time, I wanted to let folks know that if you are experiencing weird internet problems and you have a Netgear router, try bypassing it (then reboot your computer and modem) and see if that fixes the problem. Keep in mind this is only a temporary workaround, but may help eliminate immediate frustrations in the short term.
Be sure to check back later for more info on this problem.