1. Most exes not opening, no error message
2. prior to this - redirection of web browser to spammy sites, unsolicited gumtree searches in tabs popping up.
3. Virus and malware scanners report nothing wrong.
For the last few days I haven't been able to open most exe files on my laptop. I have found that for some reason I can open IE, Paint and Peer Block. When I double click on a program I'd like to run there is no error message only a 'busy' cursor for a second or two and then nothing. I've watched process manager when I try and open something and for the first time I try the correct process appears in the pane, only to disappear less than a second later. I've tried running them as administrator to see if it made a difference, and it didn't. Many useful parts of the control panel do not load.
A few days prior to this I noticed that I was being redirected from google search results I'd clicked on, through a series of spammy looking sites and finally ending up on one called Gomo. Also, a few times I had not been doing anything on the laptop but happened to glance up and noticed it loading new tabs with some gumtree search results that I certainly hadn't asked for. I also noticed in the process manager that there were multiple instances of Opera running and they would not be ended without starting up a few second later. Sometimes they would duplicate endlessly, but other times it's insist on having a certain number.
Before the exe opening problem occured I used the McAffee virus scan that came with the laptop, AdAware and MalwareBytes, all of which claimed to find nothing wrong with the laptop. At this point the laptop was around a week old. When the exe problem started I still had access to McAffee, but nothing else, and it claimed the computer was working normally.
When I have tried to ask others on the internet for help with this they've suggested various virus scanners and so I must stress that I can download but not run any exe file!
Thanks in advance,
Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Dell Inspiron 15
Internet Explorer 8
Opera (most recent stable build)
** I'm intending to use system restore at some point but before I do that I'm waiting for Steam support to reply to me. I downloaded Civilization V after the only useful restore point and I'm wondering firstly whether it will be affected and secondly if it is wiped, whether steam will let me download it again with no charge. Any answers to these questions would be great as well as they seem to be really quite slow at replying