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My Dad's PC will not boot up!

He has a Windows XP Pro SP2 machine and was running a manual scan with either Super AntiSpyware or MBAM (he does not remember which). Anyway, it found some 'stuff' and did a quarantine & immediate removal, then went into reboot.

When it got past the login screen, he said the screen did a blink and that was all! I had him try to login in safe mode -- same thing!

Since I am trying to help him via long distance, I told him to take it to Geek Squad, who at first said 'they have this problem all the time and it wouldn't be a problem to fix'. Yeah right!

They told him they couldn't find the problem, it wasn't the hard drive. They copied all his 'data' to a portable drive (which they charged him for, of course), and just gave him back the machine. Total charge $130.00.

So if they could get to the drive, I guess it is not that causing the problem?

I have some utility programs but am not sure if they will help:

Hirens boot CD


Ubuntu live

I am just not sure if these will do anything cause I don't know what to look for, excluding hardware problems.

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Safest way would be to reinstall Windows and use the backup drive (the 130$ one) to restore his Access stuff and files. But there has to be a more geeky way to solve this! – Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 7:24
Sounds like parts of the system are gone. A repair install or a normal repair from a Windows XP CD might work. – Bobby Jan 20 '10 at 8:00
@Bobby - I think so too, it's likely that one of the quarantine operation took too much, like some system files. Repairing from CD would probably help. – Gnoupi Jan 20 '10 at 8:30
I agree with @ivo. Reinstall Windows and reload the backed up programs. – Iain Jan 20 '10 at 8:54
@Ivo: more geeky ways generally involve some quality hands-on time with the broken computer. hard to do long-distance. :( – quack quixote Jan 20 '10 at 10:09

In this situation a complete re-install of the operating system is the best thing. However, you want to make sure that you can read all of his files before you do a re-install.

If he has a second computer handy, have him use that to test his files, or send them to someone (like you) to test the files if the program (Access, in this case) is not on that computer.

If he does not have access to another computer, there is a good chance that he can use that Ubuntu CD to get to the internet, depending on which version it is and how his network is setup (router, straight connection, etc.). Once he gets to the internet, he can e-mail you to verify the data before re-installing.

Once it's verified as working, he can use the Ubuntu Live CD* to verify that Geek Squad pulled off the right data. I've never used those services, but I'd guess unless he was present they would just pull off whatever was in My Documents and possibly the Desktop. If he stored files in any other location he might want to verify that they pulled that off as well.

The final step is to re-install XP with the disks that came with his computer. If he doesn't have these, find a local computer repair shop, as it is very likely they will have a set of OEM disks that they can restore with.

Good luck!

*The HD should show up under the Places menu as 160GB HD or something similar, depending on the size of the drive and version of Ubuntu he is using

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IMO, the ultimate geek repair would be to bring him back like all of this never happened. That probably isn't practical by doing a file-by-file repair. A reinstall is the best way IMO...not only will it be fast, it will be bug-free.

The good thing about the MS Access is that what he uses will simply be MDB or MDE files. Those will run fine again as long as Access is reinstalled. I wouldn't try to restore the program...reinstall it from the disc.

Basically, you want to ensure you have an entire clone of his existing drive backed up (on another drive) so there is no possibility that ANYTHING is lost. Don't trust that the Geek Squad has done that. Then, reformat the old drive, reinstall windows, then reinstall needed programs. After that, you can restore the USER files, be it music, documents, and the like.

Once you've got the PC back to EXACTLY the point where you're happy...MAKE A DISC IMAGE!! If it all goes kaput again, you can re-do a backup and just restore that image. Programs like Ghost (although I don't use it) can make restoring an image pretty easy that even a relative novice can do it with some decent directions.

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It could be that someone took a browse in the BIOS and turned on APCI or somthing. Its to bad you aren't there. Mabe phone him and walk him through doing a bios reset. Just make sure he can follow along lol.

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Try a repair install of the original OS first before you do a full install. Most times the repair install will repair these types of issues and can save you a lot of time reloading data and apps. There's still no guarantee that all data and apps will be preserved though, so backup whatever you can first!

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So many answers here, I apologise if this has already been written.

If everything was working fine, then a virus/malware scan damaged it this should in no way be a hardware fault and simply be software.

I am guessing that there was a virus that infected a windows system file, or, the virus scanner deleted something critical.

You can try getting into safe mode (press F8 after BIOS, Before windows screen loads) and then at command prompt type SFC /SCANNOW. If you can't get this far, verify the backup that Geek Squad made works and simply use your recovery disk that came with the machine and do a restore followed by recovering the backed up files.

To be honest, I wouldn't really like to recommend much else as I don't want to risk you loosing your data.

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sfc /scannow would be a good idea, but the computer doesn't boot in safe mode... And I don't know any way to launch it from a live cd... – fluxtendu Jan 21 '10 at 14:30

As it was already said, the reinstall is certainly the most easy and secure thing to do.

However here are some things to try from ubcd4win:

  • Add teamviewer to it for easy remote control
  • If the computer reboot after the blinking screen: prevent the automatic crash reboot (for vista & 7, it's simply in the F8 advanced boot menu) to see the error
  • If a crashdump is generated, use BlueScreenView to analyze the crash dump (.dmp files, located somewhere like C:\Windows\minidump, use Options > Avanced options to select the directory)
  • chkdsk your system drive
  • Manually check the quarantined files ( & google) and if they are false-positive, restore them.
  • A deep scan (disable all options to speed the scan) with good antivirus like Kaspersky Antivirus Removal Tool or malwarebytes anti-malware
  • check the strange startup process, drivers, services, ... with runalyzer or sysinternals autoruns launched by RunScanner, here is a batch file to do it easily:

copy %SystemDrive%\Programs\autoruns\autoruns.exe %Temp%
start %SystemDrive%\Programs\RunScanner\RunScanner.exe /t 0 %Temp%\autoruns.exe

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