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I found an old reformatted computer somewhere, with Windows XP installed. It's a bit faulty; I can't get the monitor settings to work on anything other than the lowest resolution. But that's not the point of this question.

I've hooked it up to a LAN line, and it's now browsing the internets pretty fine. I'm actually making this post from it right now. I'm working on Firefox, but I'd like to be able to upgrade Internet Explorer, or at least try to install the service pack upgrades.

There's only one problem -- attempting to browse to any website under the domain returns a Server Not Found error. I've tried changing my DNS settings to Google DNS, but nothing seems to work. It's as if whoever reformatted this computer had some sort of overzealous notion of censorship. All other computers on this network are able to access domain names perfectly fine.

Does anyone know what could perhaps be causing this problem?


Malware is likely the culprit so far, as is also behaving the same way that is behaving.

After a scan, it seems like that old Conficker bug is the culprit. Anyone have any idea how it could have gotten onto a system that was reformatted a few years back? Oh well.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

If weird stuff like that is happening, your best bet is normally just to wipe and reinstall.

However, a lot of malware stops you going to microsoft sites, partly to block windows updates. Check your hosts file (C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts), and run a scan with a good AV tool (I like MalwareBytes), to check it's no that.

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Would doing a wipe and install require me to purchase a new license for Windows? I'm not sure where this one came from. It has mysterious origins. – Justin L. Jun 30 '10 at 8:25
Your hunch about malware turns out to be not unfounded -- doesn't work either. – Justin L. Jun 30 '10 at 8:26
You can recover the license using one of the keyfinder programs. Nirsoft do a good one. Try running Combofix (get it from bleeping computer's site), download it elsewhere and move it over. – Dentrasi Jun 30 '10 at 9:02
Answer chosen as best for being the first one to suggest malware. I'm not sure why I never thought of that. – Justin L. Jun 30 '10 at 9:28

Have a look at %SystemRoot%\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts. If you find entries (lines) for domains you cannot connect to you should remove them. Unless you have special requirements this file should only contain a single entry for localhost.

To troubleshoot you problem you should also try to execute tracert You should be able to determine if the problem is a DNS problem or a connection problem.

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Here is the contents of hosts, as viewed by Notepad++. Is there anything out of the ordinary? – Justin L. Jun 30 '10 at 8:28
@Justin - No that seems fine! – BloodPhilia Jun 30 '10 at 9:04

Yeah that hosts file that you posted looks ordinary. Are you able to go to by using their IP address instead of the DNS name? Type "" without quotes into the address bar of the web browser.

Are you able to do an nslookup You should get results like this:

Non-authoritative answer:

You said this system was reformatted, so it hopefully doesn't have any viruses? Viruses sometimes block in order to prevent online support and windows updates. It might be worth doing a few virus scans as described here.

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For what it's worth, I came across this useful tool recently:

...which does what it says on the tin.

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