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Virus on laptop-advice by computer experts appreciated?!

Travel Forums System Talk Virus on laptop-advice by computer experts appreciated?!

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1. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 11y

Hi guys,

sorry, if this is not exactly TP system talk, but I thought there are a lot of computer experts around here who could eventually help me. I tried to get into the internet with wireless lan from my laptop the other day and it worked fine. But now I have the disaster, when I tried to start it today it said some windows programm was damaged or missing and wouldn´t let me enter to the desktop unless I had the original set-up CD. Of course I left the CD at home in Germany and I´m now wondering what to do??? Computer illiterate as I am, I woudn´t even know what to ask for in a shop, and are all my photos, music, programms lost ??? Really hope it´s just a minor problem and somebody has advice.

Thanks a mil,

Steff

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 11y

This problem doesn't necessarily have to be caused by a virus.

Let me see... how far do you get in the startup process? To just before the login screen?
Note the exact name of the file windows is asking for. Post that here. Google for a place to download it from on the microsoft site (or I or someone else might be able to tell you a place if it isn't there).
Then reboot, and just before the graphical windows loading screen (I think - if not, try it continuously while booting), press F8. You should get a DOS-like screen (like this one), with different startup options. Go for Safe Mode with Networking. If that boots all the way into windows, that's a good sign. (It'll look ugly and very basic, but that's normal.)
Ideally you'd then hook up the laptop to the internet, download the missing file, put it where it belongs (if windows didn't tell you the directory, and the google search didn't reveal it either, we might know), reboot and everything would be working.
Chances are it won't be the ideal case, but telling us how far you got will still be useful. (Also, if "with networking" doesn't work, try just plain safe mode.)

Now, just in case this _was_ caused by a virus, rather than just windows being crappy: Do you have a virus scanner and a firewall installed? If not, make it a priority to get them. And always run windows update.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 11y

Oh, in case "with networking" doesn't work, the process would be something like - download and burn to cd in internet cafe, navigate to it in the command prompt, and copy over.

Ooooh! And if this is windows XP (chances are) - you might have a previous configuration. Try that first. In the DOS-like screen, go for " Last Known Good Configuration".
That might fix everything right away. (Though you'll need to re-install any security updates since that snapshot was made.)

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

You do realize that Sander's help does come at a very large price... Payment will be expected in mountains of chocolate...

5. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 11y

Quoting Sander

This problem doesn't necessarily have to be caused by a virus.

Let me see... how far do you get in the startup process? To just before the login screen?
Note the exact name of the file windows is asking for. Post that here.

Sander, thanks a lot! You´re right I only get before the login screen and it says the following file is missing \window\system32\config\system
So if I download it from the Microsoft side in an internet cafe do I then burn it on CD or how does work?
I think I also haven´t got a Virus scanner or a firewall, but definitely will get that too, can I download that as well?

Thanks again, and I will see if I can find some nice Spanish chocolate, any favorites?

Cheers,

Steff

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 11y

Oh, $*$%^@#!!
That isn't a file you can just download - that's your system registry. Which is unique for each computer.

  • ponders*

Okay, things to try in order:

0) See if you can backup any important data away from the laptop.
IF you can boot into safe mode (I don't know if that's possible given no system registry) with networking: email, ftp, upload, or move away any important data. (Photographs, writings, anything that wasn't on there when you got the laptop.) Or burn to cd if you can. Especially anything that's stored on your desktop, or in my documents. (Given that I distinctly recall a new windows install overwriting those two locations, and I very much fear you might have to go for reinstalling.)

1)
a) If you haven't yet, try booting into that "last known good configuration". If you can boot into that, follow the steps here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306084/
b) If you can't boot into it, try the steps here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/304449/
c) If you can't, but your laptop has a floppy drive, make a boot floppy. On an internet cafe, insert a blank floppy disk, right click on it in explorer, select format, and select the option "Create an MS-DOS startup disk." When done, insert this into your laptop, and boot from it. (If it doesn't automatically, you'll have to go into the BIOS (right at the very start of starting your computer, it'll say something like "hit DEL to enter BIOS"), find the option for "boot sequence" and move floppy to above harddisk. Careful not to change any other things here.) Once DOS is loaded, navigate to the hard disk: (type "c:"), and follow the steps in b)
c) If you don't have a floppy drive, consider buying an external one at a computer store
d) The alternative is to make a boot-cd. The problem here is that I don't know how to make one that will work. Various sites on the internet offer downloads of "disk-images", which you can then burn to cd with the burning program that the internet cafe has, but I don't see any that I would trust implicitly. If you want to take the chance (there's a chance - small, but present - that this will do something malcious) download "Bootable ISO Image for NTFS Reader" here. Once booted from that, do the same as under b).
e) or perhaps (unlikely, but worth mentioning) the internet cafe will let you borrow one of their windows xp install cds - you can't reinstall windows with this, but you can, when the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the "Recovery Console". Which is like the dos prompt. Then as above..

2) If going back to the last known configuration doesn't work, consider following these instructions, which would be perfect, except...

Warning Do not use the procedure that is described in this article if your computer has an OEM-installed operating system. The system hive on OEM installations creates passwords and user accounts that did not exist previously. If you use the procedure that is described in this article, you may not be able to log back into the recovery console to restore the original registry hives.

And 100 to 1 that your laptop has an OEM-installed operating system. Of course, you wouldn't be dealing with the "recovery console" (except in case of 1e) ) but... It's a risk, and I don't know XP well enough to be able to advise you if you should take it. I guess it'll be a case of "what do I have to lose?"

3) Ask someone back home to make a copy of your windows install cd, mail it to you, and reinstall windows from scratch. If so, use one of the options under 1) to get into windows or dos and copy over any files that you want to backup under c:\windows\desktop and c:\documents & settings to some other directory, as reinstalling will probably overwrite them.

7. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 11y

Thanks Sander I appreciate. Will try and follow your instructions, and also my best friend´s coming to visit in about a week and bringing the Windows install cd with her. Hopefully things will work out then!

Steff
(who will eventually get over that her photos and music are gone )

8. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting steffbo

Thanks Sander I appreciate. Will try and follow your instructions, and also my best friend´s coming to visit in about a week and bringing the Windows install cd with her. Hopefully things will work out then!

Steff
(who will eventually get over that her photos and music are gone )

I have a suggestion for you before you do anything else.
The problem could be due to a corrupted system file.
Try this:

Switch on your laptop. Once you see the manufacturer logo appears (and before Windows logo appears), press the F8 key repeatedly until you see a Windows Startup Menu.

Select the "Safe Mode" option and press Enter.

Let windows load. This may take longer than usual.

If you still get the same error message when windows is starting, you may skip all the remaining steps and try Sander's suggestion or reinstall your Windows.

You'll get a popup saying that Windows is running in Safe Mode, and the four corners of the screen will also have the words "Safe Mode". Click OK to acknowledge the information.

Open "My Computer".

Right-click on drive C: and select "Properties" from the menu.

"C: Properties" window will appear. Click on the "Tools" tab.

In the "Error Checking" section, click on the "Check Now..." button.

Select the "Automatically fix file system errors" and "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors" options. Make sure both options are selected/checked/ticked. Click on the "Start" button.

You will now be prompted with a popup message saying "The disk check could not be performed because... blah, blah, blah... Do you want to schedule disk check to occur the next time you restart the computer?"

Select "Yes" and close all the opened windows and restart windows.

Your system will now restart and Windows will load.

If you still get the same error message at this stage, you may skip all the remaining steps and try Sander's suggestion or reinstall your Windows.

Half way loading (in the Windows logo), you will see a message starting to perform some kind of a disk checking. Let it continue and DO NOT press any key as it may interrupt the process.

Once it's done checking, it'll automatically restart. If it managed to fix the corrupted file, your Windows will run as normal again. Otherwise, try Sander's suggestions.

Hope that helps. :)

9. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting steffbo

...
(who will eventually get over that her photos and music are gone )

Don't worry, Steff.

By right, your photos and music should still be safe in the drive if your hard disk drive is not TOTALLY corrupted.
Just make sure that you do not format your hard disk when you reinstall your windows (if you needed to).

10. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 11y

Hien, thanks for your advice and telling me that there´s hope I still might have the photos and music!