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Old May 14 2009, 02:39 AM   #1
archeryguy1701
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Computer issues

Hey folks, I'm bringing a computer issue to you from a friend who has asked me to help him try to figure his machine out. This friend told me that he was downloading music from illegal sources and he got a virus. He went to Wal-Mart, picked up a copy of AVG, and installed it to try and fix the problem. The computer warned him that it might have issues with both AVG and his other anti-virus installed (he doesn't remember what it was), but he went ahead and used AVG anyways.

He got it installed, updated, did the virus scan, and it said that once he rebooted his machine the viruses will be gone. So, he rebooted and that's where he started having the big issue. Everytime he tries to log onto the computer, it either just sits on the log-in box, or it will start to log in, then immediately log him back out. We've tried this in both regular mode and in safe mode. He is for all intents and purposes locked out of his machine. He tried the last known good configuration, but that doesn't help.

My personal inclination is that he is S.O.L., that we will need to do a fresh install of Windows, and that he should take this as a lesson in the values of backing stuff up, but I wanted to confirm my conclusion before I go and make all of his information go away. So, what say you guys? Anything else that we can try, or do you agree that we are down to fresh install time?
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Old May 14 2009, 02:47 AM   #2
Garrovick
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Re: Computer issues

If safe mode doesn't work, SOL

A fresh clean Windows reinstall is the answer. One can't fix something if they can't get on the machine.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:01 AM   #3
The Fatman
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Re: Computer issues

Assuming you haven't started the re-install of the OS yet... all winXP and Vista install discs have a repair option. You can try booting from the recovery disc and running the repair utility. If it doesn't work, all you've lost is an hour.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:23 AM   #4
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Re: Computer issues

Foley0402 wrote: View Post
Assuming you haven't started the re-install of the OS yet... all winXP and Vista install discs have a repair option. You can try booting from the recovery disc and running the repair utility. If it doesn't work, all you've lost is an hour.
Y'know, every time I've tried the "repair" option, I get into Windows, but it's always as/more screwed up than it was before, so I end up reinstalling anyway. Which is easier now with a slipstreamed installation.

This is from the "repair Windows installation", not the "repair console" which I've never figured out how to make work.
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Old May 14 2009, 04:18 AM   #5
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Re: Computer issues

Ar-Pharazon wrote: View Post
Foley0402 wrote: View Post
Assuming you haven't started the re-install of the OS yet... all winXP and Vista install discs have a repair option. You can try booting from the recovery disc and running the repair utility. If it doesn't work, all you've lost is an hour.
Y'know, every time I've tried the "repair" option, I get into Windows, but it's always as/more screwed up than it was before, so I end up reinstalling anyway. Which is easier now with a slipstreamed installation.

This is from the "repair Windows installation", not the "repair console" which I've never figured out how to make work.
lol, the only time I really use repair console is to run fixboot/fixmbr. usually when some idiot decides to dual-boot Linux and then gets all frazzled when the uninstall, GRUB is gone, and they can't get into Windows.

I would estimate I'm 60/40 on using "repair", and then having to reinstall anyways. If it works, it saves me the hassle of a reinstall, and if not, it's an extra hour of troubleshooting I can bill for...
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Old May 14 2009, 10:18 AM   #6
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Re: Computer issues

^ Oh well, if there's money involved......
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Old May 14 2009, 02:20 PM   #7
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Re: Computer issues

archeryguy1701 wrote: View Post
Hey folks, I'm bringing a computer issue to you from a friend who has asked me to help him try to figure his machine out. This friend told me that he was downloading music from illegal sources and he got a virus. He went to Wal-Mart, picked up a copy of AVG, and installed it to try and fix the problem. The computer warned him that it might have issues with both AVG and his other anti-virus installed (he doesn't remember what it was), but he went ahead and used AVG anyways.

He got it installed, updated, did the virus scan, and it said that once he rebooted his machine the viruses will be gone. So, he rebooted and that's where he started having the big issue. Everytime he tries to log onto the computer, it either just sits on the log-in box, or it will start to log in, then immediately log him back out. We've tried this in both regular mode and in safe mode. He is for all intents and purposes locked out of his machine. He tried the last known good configuration, but that doesn't help.

My personal inclination is that he is S.O.L., that we will need to do a fresh install of Windows, and that he should take this as a lesson in the values of backing stuff up, but I wanted to confirm my conclusion before I go and make all of his information go away. So, what say you guys? Anything else that we can try, or do you agree that we are down to fresh install time?

A trick I've used on occasions when a client has had a virus problem-pull the drive and plug it into another where you know the Anti-Virus protection is up to date and work. You don't boot from the first drive but use the second to perform the scan.

It also allows you to run a checkdisk (after you've scanned) to test the drive integrity.

You could also rename the AVG program directory if you think that program is the problem. Next time you boot from the drive it will toss up some errors but it won't start the program.

The other possibility is the user profile has been corrupted. If you rename the current profile directory (located under Documents and Settings for XP, Users for Vista and based on the username) Windows will attempt to build a new profile the next time they logon.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:14 PM   #8
farmkid
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Re: Computer issues

If I were the one helping this friend of yours, it would be reinstall time. However, although I'm better than average at fixing computer problems, I'm no expert and there are certainly problems I couldn't fix but others could.

If you do go the reinstall route his data isn't all lost. You could, as suggested above, put the drive into another computer and back up his data. Or, get a Live CD version of linux and use that to back up his data onto an external drive or flash drive. You can even run some versions of linux from a flash drive, if you prefer that.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:47 PM   #9
archeryguy1701
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Re: Computer issues

Marc wrote: View Post
archeryguy1701 wrote: View Post
Hey folks, I'm bringing a computer issue to you from a friend who has asked me to help him try to figure his machine out. This friend told me that he was downloading music from illegal sources and he got a virus. He went to Wal-Mart, picked up a copy of AVG, and installed it to try and fix the problem. The computer warned him that it might have issues with both AVG and his other anti-virus installed (he doesn't remember what it was), but he went ahead and used AVG anyways.

He got it installed, updated, did the virus scan, and it said that once he rebooted his machine the viruses will be gone. So, he rebooted and that's where he started having the big issue. Everytime he tries to log onto the computer, it either just sits on the log-in box, or it will start to log in, then immediately log him back out. We've tried this in both regular mode and in safe mode. He is for all intents and purposes locked out of his machine. He tried the last known good configuration, but that doesn't help.

My personal inclination is that he is S.O.L., that we will need to do a fresh install of Windows, and that he should take this as a lesson in the values of backing stuff up, but I wanted to confirm my conclusion before I go and make all of his information go away. So, what say you guys? Anything else that we can try, or do you agree that we are down to fresh install time?

A trick I've used on occasions when a client has had a virus problem-pull the drive and plug it into another where you know the Anti-Virus protection is up to date and work. You don't boot from the first drive but use the second to perform the scan.

It also allows you to run a checkdisk (after you've scanned) to test the drive integrity.

You could also rename the AVG program directory if you think that program is the problem. Next time you boot from the drive it will toss up some errors but it won't start the program.

The other possibility is the user profile has been corrupted. If you rename the current profile directory (located under Documents and Settings for XP, Users for Vista and based on the username) Windows will attempt to build a new profile the next time they logon.
This is a god thought, but unfortunately, it's a laptop that this guy messed up so this'll be a little tough.

Thanks for the inputs, I'll give the repair option, and if that doesn't go anywhere I guess I have to tell him that it's time to start fresh. If anyone else has other suggestions, feel free to pipe in as it should still be a day or two before I get a chance to do this.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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Re: Computer issues

One of the best methods of removing viruses is to reset the computer, and go into Windows Safe mode.
Once you have reached desktop in safe mode, scan the entire hard drive with the antivirus (but prior to all of that, make sure the AVG's antivirus database is up-to date).

Scan and clean-up the viruses if you find any.

Also what might be a good idea to do is to install the latest release of Spybot Search and destroy and update it's database to the latest one.
Then go into Safe Mode again and scan the computer.
If it doesn't find anything, then great, but if it does then just clean-up the infections.

In Safe Mode, it's always best to scan with anti-viruses because the OS is only working with the barest files and most of the high profile files that are usually in use are inactive (giving your anti-virus software the ability to modify/clean the files).
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Old May 14 2009, 04:20 PM   #11
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Re: Computer issues

Another possible option would be use another windows cd (not the vendor's recovery option that would wipe the drive) and install a second copy of windows to allow the data to be copied off
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Old May 15 2009, 04:41 PM   #12
Alpha_Geek
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Re: Computer issues

Putting the drive as a secondary on a machine would quite likely work. Care would have to be taken to make sure the infected drive was not booted from For such occasions there is a great piece f technology available! They have USB to IDE and SATA adapter cables for 20-ish bucks these days. Any geek worth their commbadge should have one of these gems in their bag o' tricks.

If such a cable is unavailable, as a hail mary before I recommend a windows reinstall, I'd check the A/V product documentation, see if there is a command line interface for it. If so, boot SAFE MODE COMMAND PROMPT ONLY, and then invoke the A/V program to run a cleanup.
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Old May 15 2009, 07:16 PM   #13
Meredith
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Re: Computer issues

Alpha_Geek wrote: View Post
Putting the drive as a secondary on a machine would quite likely work. Care would have to be taken to make sure the infected drive was not booted from For such occasions there is a great piece f technology available! They have USB to IDE and SATA adapter cables for 20-ish bucks these days. Any geek worth their commbadge should have one of these gems in their bag o' tricks.

If such a cable is unavailable, as a hail mary before I recommend a windows reinstall, I'd check the A/V product documentation, see if there is a command line interface for it. If so, boot SAFE MODE COMMAND PROMPT ONLY, and then invoke the A/V program to run a cleanup.

If the laptop has a SATA drive you need no adapter to hook it up to a desktop, it will just plug right in too!

(Providing the desktop as a SATA connector that is)
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Old May 29 2009, 12:10 PM   #14
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Re: Computer issues

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Old May 29 2009, 01:34 PM   #15
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Computer issues

Marc wrote: View Post
Another possible option would be use another windows cd (not the vendor's recovery option that would wipe the drive) and install a second copy of windows to allow the data to be copied off
Yeah, this is what I'd normally do if I simply could not recover Windows but I didn't want to lose my data. Parallel installation!

And then you can scan for viruses, get it cleaned up, delete the other copy of Windows, and leave your friend to reinstall all his programs.
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