Windows repair or Reformat?

Discussion in 'Computers & Website Forum' started by Trotter, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. Trotter

    Trotter
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    Here's the deal. I'm going over to a coworker's house Tuesday to try to fix his computer.

    Here is the situation: He used to be online, but hasn't been for about two years. I worked on his computer before (full of adware/spyware, had at least twelve viruses, major damage to some subsystems of Windows). I ran out of time that evening, so I'm giong back to try to repair Windows.

    My question: Would it be better to let Windows repair itself from the CD-rom, or to reformat the hard drive and start from scratch? I am not sure if all the viruses were wiped out, and Sasser was among them. I do not have an anti-virus program to drop in his system, and he doesn't want to buy one as he is not online anymore.

    Any and all advice would be welcome. And, if reformatting the drive is the best option, will the computer load Windows from the CD after reformatting?

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  2. gb93433

    gb93433
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    The same thing happened to me a few years ago. I reformatted the hard drive and it ran much faster then the original install from the company I bought the computer from. Often when you buy the computer it comes with all kinds of other programs you don't need or even like.

    Does the person have the restoration CD especially the drivers and Operating System CD? What Operating System does he have? When you reformat the disk it will wipe all of the information and give you a clean disk to start with.

    Be sure and save the documents he needs on some kind of backup like floppys or CD.
     
  3. Jodo Kast

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    Reformat!! I think he would be much happier with the results. Backup personal files!
     
  4. SpiritualMadMan

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    Reformat! Especially if he was that badly infected...

    Definately... Back-up any personal files and user settings... Saved Games, etc...

    Then Virus Scan them before copyng them back...
     
  5. Trotter

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    He has a Dell, with all of the disks for the original software. Also, he said he's not worried about losing anything on the hard drive.

    His computer has Windows XP, but it is in pretty rough shape, as in any window you open will only remain for between ten seconds and two minutes, then it closes. Like I said, major damage.

    So, after re-formatting, will the computer pick up and run the CD, or do I need to know something special? I've never had to completely wipe the drive before, and I really don't want to trash his system.

    Muchas gracias for the info, y'all.

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  6. Sir Joyful

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    It should have no problem picking up the cd after the format, as this is a computer BIOS setting and has nothing to do with windows. To make sure, get into the BIOS and confirm that the machine has the option to boot from a cd.

    Hope it goes well
    Doug
     
  7. SpiritualMadMan

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    Make sure you actually reformat the drive...

    If you have partition tools and know how also rewrite/recover the boot sector just in case there are any boot sector viruses...

    Lastly, don't hook back up to a network or go on-line with a modem until you get your basic Anti-Virus Sostware installed and operating...

    Lastly, pay close attention to his Internet browser settings...

    It's a real pain but I have "Prompt" turned on for all Active-X scripting...

    I only clck OK when I know I want to view a .PDF file or watch/listen to a Media File...

    As well as for "Cookies" in the Privacy Settings...

    I only allow cookies for sites that I intend to go back to or require them for something I *really* to get access to.

    I make note of sites that require them for no apparent reason. A good reason might be remembering your Car make and model for looking for parts...

    Hostile Web-Sites and E-mails seem to be the biggest threats...

    After getting the AV loaded... Download the updates...

    Download and install either Sygate or Zone Alarm... I had trouble with getting Zone Alarm to work in my WinXP-pro so I have gone to Sygate.

    Download Ad-Aware Personal and Spybot Search & Destroy... I forget which one does it but one of them immunizes your Internet Browser to make it more resistant to attack...

    Its a pretty long process to *really* recover...

    But, taking preemptive and preventative actions now should make your friendship last a lot longer...

    (Otherwise, whatever behavior he did that got him into this mess will keep recurring. [​IMG] )

    Oh yeah... And, I absolutely will not install Real Player, ever!

    Nothing, IMHO, I want to watch or listen is worth the Bloatware/Spyware that comes with "Real"!
     
  8. pinoybaptist

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    Zero the drive, period. Then reinstall XP.
    Zeroing and reinstalling is a good thing to do every six months, really.
     
  9. gb93433

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    One of the things I did was to install the Norton GoBack program. It has saved my bacon a few times. It has allowed me to recover a lost document. A long time ago there was a time when a virus came on my computer and I was able to go back in time before the virus. The only thing I don't like is that it makes the computer run slightly slower. I went to start - run then typed in msconfig and then click on the startup tab. I stooped some programs from running all the time. Do not uncheck anything you know nothing about. You might not like what may happen.
     
  10. SpiritualMadMan

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    Be careful with what you also install with GoBack as I had to take it off another system when his performance dropped to about equal to a 300Mhz P2!

    His system is a 2.4 Ghz P4...

    What was happening, as near as we can figure... Program 1 would make a change which would trigger GoBack to take notice of the change which caused a nother disk update which then made the first program update it's stuff...

    Endless loop...

    I personally only use fully manual restoration programs...

    One I have used is "InControl" to track all changes an install makes allowing me to manually 'fully' un-install any install but a Windows Update...
     
  11. Trotter

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    'Msconfig' is a wunnerful, wunnerful thang! It is one of my first stops when I 'work' on someone's system.

    Clearing out the temporary internet files and cookies are also tops on the checklist.

    Next comes AdAware AND Spybot (Spybot is the one that immunizes your system). I've found that there is a sliver of security in redundancy, as Spybot will nail more programs than AdAware, but AdAware finds more registry alterations than Spybot.

    ZoneAlarm comes next, as I have found than most people do not have a firewall. I didn't until I got hit, then I learned.

    Panicware's free Pop-Up Stopper is next to be installed, unless they have a pop-up stopper. Suprisingly, many think pop-ups are supposed to be a part of the internet experience. Go figure!

    I then head to housecall.trendmicro.com for a free virus scan, just to make sure.

    Along aboutt his time, I make sure that their anti-virus is updated/renewed (most that I work on are working without a net). I also start Windows updating.

    After supper (because no one has their Windows even remotely up-to-date), I install Belarc's Advisor. I print off the snapshot of the system and tell them to put it in a safe place so that they will have it if their system dies. Having a hardcopy of everything inside your computer is absolutely essential if you have to call technical support, as the first thing they ask is "What components do you have in your computer?", which you cannot answer because it is lying there with all four up in the air!

    Lastly, I lecture them on the inherrant dangers (and sheer stupidity) of using IE. I then install Firefox.

    Before I leave, I revisit 'msconfig' to make sure that the firewall, anti-virus, and pop-up stopper (unless they installed Firefox) are checked to launch on start-up, and that nothing else is.

    ===================================================

    OK, guys. Do y'all see anything that I might have missed or that should be included in this minor tune-up? (This does not apply to the present situation, as I have done these, but Windows is fatally wounded)

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  12. swordsman

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  13. Trotter

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    Hit a snag, y'all. His computer would not let me reformat the drive. It said that I needed to close any program accessing the hard drive or anything that was showing the contents of the hard drive...but nothing was running.

    I pulled up Task Manager and killed everything that I could (that the computer would let me, and that didn't shut down Windows), but to no avail.

    I did re-install Windows and all the disks that came with his computer, but everything else is still on the drive.

    Also, his resolution is stuck on really low, and his color is stuck on 16 bit. I'm thinking that I need to delete his video driver, but I don't remember how I got my mother-in-law's to work (been a few moons ago).

    Any ideas on how to get the HD to reformat? I have MS Sasser removal tool, but I didn't take it with me. The Avast free version I had put on his computer showed that a virus was still there before we began, but it was in the System Restore files. Windows rewrote those files, so I don;t know if it got it or not. I'm going to take the removal tool next time.

    Any ideas on how to get his resolution and colors back to normal?

    Thanks for the help!

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  14. Trotter

    Trotter
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    Swordsman,

    Thanks for the link! I will file that one away.

    I recommend Firefox to everyone, but it is not a concern here, as he does not want to get his computer back online. He says it costs too much money...

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  15. gb93433

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    I had the same thing happen to me. So I called Dell and they had me go into the BIOS setup and hit ALT-F. He explained that it sets the BIOS to the defaults. So you might try that.
     
  16. Sir Joyful

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    I hope this is not too little too late, but if you have a windows 98 boot floppy handy, use it to access DOS with a cd driver, Then there should be no way to stop a good ole FORMAT C:\ command.
     
  17. GeneMBridges

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    Hey, Trotter...I'm Windows 2000 Server certified...

    If you are trying to reformat the harddrive, you can't reformat the drive you are sitting on from Windows if you are in the Partition that has the MBR on it. You can't sink the ship if you are standing on deck! You have to use the CD to do it and start from scratch...UNLESS, he has enough room on a separate partition, in which case you can install XP on THAT partition as a fresh install.

    For example....say the drives are C: and D:. Your system /boot volume currently is C: and you fear that there may be a virus on C:...D: is free to play with as you wish.

    Right click the My Computer Icon. Find Computer Management. Click it. YOu'll find Disk Management. Click. You'll see the partition information. You can reformat D: completely from there.

    Now, insert the XP CD and boot from the CD...Leave C: alone when you see the information.
    YOu can reformat D: again and /or you'll have an option to install Windows on the drive you highlight. Basically, find D: and do and install XP on it.

    After XP installs on D: and you boot XP, you'll see choices for XP. Pick the one for D:, which should be the 2nd choice.

    You can still access C: Drive in total using D: as you system partition. Now...copy and file you wish to save from C: to D: and reformat C:

    You're good to go.

    You can even reinstall XP on C: fresh. (Which is fun too)...That way, just in case D: crashes on you, C: is still bootable or vice versa, and you can get still boot the pc using Windows without all that recovery console mess. However,you still can't fix the OS for the crashed drive from Windows using the opposing partition..you have to do that from Recovery Console.


    If you have an XP CD the easiest thing to do is insert the XP CD and reboot with the CD in the drive. Press any key as soon as it reboots. It will boot from the CD. XP (and all 2000 products and above) includes its own partitioning tool. Go through the defaults until you see the partition information. DELETE ALL PARTITIONS!!!!!

    Set new partitions. Be sure to create 2 or more if possible One will default to C: the other to D: . I like to leave room for E: but I do not format it. Format C: and D: in NTFS unless the pc needs to network with a FAT32 or FAT16 formatted pc on the network. If it does format using the FAT32 file system.

    BEFORE YOU DO ANY OF THIS...Download DELPART. DELPART is a simple, quickly downloadable partitioning tool. It's also FREEWARE. (Type DELPART into any browser and you can find a d/l for it). Copy it to a floppy.

    If you have problems repartitioning the harddrive for any reason, go into the pc's CMOS and make sure you can boot from A: (some pc's don't let you, just depends on the CMOS settings). Insert the program. At the A: prompt type DELPART You'll see a small blue screen with the partitioning information. Delete all partitions. This will take care of any boot sector viruses, as the hdd will be totally wiped. DELPART will delete Partitions for any Windows OS, DOS, Linus, Novell, et.al.

    DELPART is your last resort. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you execute a DOS command if the HDD is using NTFS. If you succeed in reformatting the MBR of an NTFS hdd using a specific DOS command, you run the risk of corrupting the entire boot sector. It should not work, but, unfortunately, I have seen it happen one and only one time on a laptop, and it was a major hemmorhoid to reconfigure after that.

    FYI, you CAN use other manufacturers XP OS distributions on a DELL. I've done it several times. XP will pick up all the generic drivers for the system. You can then go to the website for any special drivers you might need as specific to the attached hardware.

    RE: Your resolution problem. Go to the website for the monitor's hardware and d/l the correct driver, that should take care of it if it's a monitor problem.

    You can also right click the desktop and enter the desktop settings. The settings tab...radio button for advanced...click it...you'll see any specific settings you can manipulate there...try associating a color profile (RGB or Kodak are mainstays)...also be sure the adapter settings are correct...List all modes and click a 1024 (32 bit) or a 1024 (24bit) or lower, eg. 800 x 600 (32b or 24b)...it just depends on what the monitor is capable of. Older monitors, try 800 first...be sure that works...you can try 1024 as well...the monitor will go squiggly on you if it can't handle higher res. settings. Start at 16b color res. first, it should be fine...then set to 24...it should be fine...then 32...at the point it looks funky, dial it back a notch and you'll have found the correct setting...

    Note: the specific hardware/adapter driver will usually do this on its own once you install it (Update drivers in device manager once you d/l the right driver or install it from disk/cd).
    If you can't find the specific manufacturer driver go to www.driverguide.com and search for it there. It'll almost always be there.

    Email me if you need any more help.

    Gene
     
  18. superdave

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    Ill give that a hearty amen, and Look Out Express too! I am nearly windows free, give me about a month, and I won't even use it on my laptop hopefully, its a company mandate.

    Are you booting to the cd to repartition/reformat, it may be that something is broke on the O/S on the disk that won't let you do it. Or you can boot a linux cd and use the reformat tools on there, they are much better than the one on the windows cd.
     
  19. Trotter

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    I will probably go back over there Tuesday. I will post any results that I get.

    Thanks for the help thus far, guys!

    In Christ,
    Trotter
     
  20. superdave

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    speaking of rebuilding/reformatting. While I was checking out this thread yesterday on my laptop, I was loading drivers on my Solaris Workstation for my cdrw drive so I could make a jumpstart bootable disk with a flasharchive of my system so I could reinstall the system easily if it crashed. While I was doing so, the hard drive failed and I am now rebuilding Solaris from scratch on a new disk since I do not have a backup of the Operating system disk built yet. Oh, well, I think I am going to reload it with Solaris 10 anyway.

    These timesaving devices sure take up a lot of time
     

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