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The machine is an el-cheapo Win8 with 4gb ram from HP.

While I have seen this machine in popup hell all I've managed to do is get logged back out before the desktop became useable.

I figured it was malware and since the machine refused to boot a disinfection disk (thank you secure boot!) I pulled the drive and scanned it. No malware but it does contain a windows.old which strongly suggests someone did a reset on it once before.

Any plan of attack??

Edit: Solved. I sat there reading a book while playing with the trackball for 10 minutes to keep the system from locking and I finally was able to actually get it to listen to me. The lock turned out to be set for 1 minute and it triggered enough garbage that it took more than a minute before you could do anything. Not only is it full of manufacturer-supplied bloatware but it appears the user is one of these guys who falls for all the install-this stuff one sees on the web. The last toolbar was installed 2 days before I became involved.

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I'd let the scan finish first, then see. Can you get it to boot into safe mode? – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '13 at 2:41
@JourneymanGeek Windows 8--unless you turn it on the option isn't there. – Loren Pechtel Jul 22 '13 at 3:19
For the Windows.old folder, you probably upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7. That folder keeps the good old Windows 7 system files. – Alvin Wong Jul 22 '13 at 4:41
Would have helped to know this was a client's pc. You can remove Windows.old to recover storage space. Might want to confirm it contains no user data. – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 16:25

I'm not sure if this is the answer you're looking for, but quite honestly my best advice in these types of situations is to back up all critical data (documents, pictures, videos, music, etc) to a separate drive or location, erase the HD and reinstall a fresh copy of the OS, and then copy the data back and reinstall programs. It might sound like a lot of work, but more often than not I find myself spending less time going this route and ending up with a completely clean and fast installation, as opposed to spending a lot of time "cleaning up" the problematic OS and ending up with a still somewhat slow/clunky OS.

Also, if the malware problems don't seem severe, you can always try a quick System Restore to a known working Restore Point if you have one. I've actually had success with this method a few times and it's nice and quick. More info here:

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If it were my machine I would have already done that. I'm very leery of the reinstall approach as it's Win8, a system for which I have no media and no experience and thus if anything goes wrong I've got problems. There's also the problem that so far I've never gotten a working desktop to try to go to a restore point. – Loren Pechtel Jul 22 '13 at 1:06
Just use the Reset feature built into. windows 8 – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 2:05
refreshes MAY need an install disk in some cases. – Journeyman Geek Jul 22 '13 at 2:40

Go to Control Panel -> Programs and Features -> and remove everything you don't want, or that isn't signed by Microsoft, Adobe, or Oracle.

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Why was this perfectly good answe down voted? Windows.old is from an upgrade from a previous version if windows – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 2:05
Because the problem is getting into the system to uninstall the garbage. And it's not from a previous version, it came from the factory with 8 on it. – Loren Pechtel Jul 22 '13 at 4:20
@LorenPechtel - First I would argue your question is not clear. Second if you remove the applications you don't want your likely to solve your performance problems. Its not clear what you mean by "useable". – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 12:18
@Ramhound Useable as in able to actually interact with it. – Loren Pechtel Jul 22 '13 at 16:06

If you pay close attention, you just might (depending on your computer) find that you can enter into your UEFI settings during startup, see HERE. If not, assuming can make your system usable enought to dig deep into your Metro settings, you should be able to boot into your UEFI config screen. See HERE. From there, it shouldn't be too difficult to disable Secure Booting altogether (and good riddance)! However, you'll still need to use UEFI without Secure Booting (as opposed to "legacy" BIOS settings), to run Windows 8.

Please note that once you get into your UEFI settings, you're pretty much on your own, as there's no guarantee that your UEFI config screen will look anything like the one pictured. However, simply getting to the screen is probably the most compicated part. If your smart enough to know what "Secure Booting" is, you'll probably be able to figure the rest out.

One more thing, I do believe you can make a basic restore disk for just this sort of thing. Said restore disk should allow you to access system restore, even if you're system absolutely won't boot anymore. Googling around for Hiren's Boot CD can't hurt either, as it can do... just about everything but system restores!

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Secure Boot isn't the reason his computer becomes usable its because his computer isn't up to the task of Windows Vista let alone Windows 8. He should have no problems using a Legacy BIOS mode and still use Windows 8. – Ramhound Jul 22 '13 at 12:20

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