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Questions about reformatting hard drive


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#1 chattykk

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 10:48 AM

Hello Windows XP forum

Have been working with boopme on the "Am I infected forum?" for several days and the discovery of
multiple serious threats have guided me to make a decision to reformat my hard drive. The support
and guidance received from this site thus far have been exceptional so I thought I would pose some questions before I proceed. Boopme provided a link, spyware-free.us/tutorials/reformat/, an excellent guide for the novice(or anyone else) on the process and I have proceeded with some steps however I do have the following questions.

Here is the info. regarding OS and other software:
Operating system is Windows XP Professional v. 5.1.2600 SP2 running IE7
Spybot S&D installed but not working properly since the infection.
mbam.exe installed per boopme, it discovered the trojan
McAfee AV installed with current updates
Have been using Windows firewall
Cybersitter installed with current updates to thwart the unwise choices of a 17 yo. son but this software
has been problematic since installation

Now the questions:
1. The instructions from the reformat link direct me to download the SP2 update from Microsoft to a CD, if I do that from the infected computer do I risk continuing the infection? If so, should I download from a clean computer?
2. I was preparing to do the SP3 update when the infection happened, should wait until after the reformat and reinstall
to do that or shall I just start with the SP3 update?
3. I have all the original installation CD for McAfee but it is 5 years old, is there any point in using it or should I download
the latest version? If I need to download the latest version, how do I do that?
4. I have copied the absolute minimal number of files I would like to save but again I have a concern about reinfecting the computer, should I be concerned?
5. Do I need more than the Windows firewall or a different firewall?
6. Is Spybot S&D enough, I was thinking that I should purchase mbam? Can I run multiple anti-spyware programs?

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Kathy

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#2 aommaster

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 11:15 AM

1. The instructions from the reformat link direct me to download the SP2 update from Microsoft to a CD, if I do that from the infected computer do I risk continuing the infection? If so, should I download from a clean computer?

Highly unlikely

2. I was preparing to do the SP3 update when the infection happened, should wait until after the reformat and reinstall
to do that or shall I just start with the SP3 update?

If you reformat, you basically wipe the harddrive and start clean. So upgrading to SP3 before the reformat doesn't make a difference. And besides, there are some problems with SP3 with regards to hardware.

3. I have all the original installation CD for McAfee but it is 5 years old, is there any point in using it or should I download
the latest version? If I need to download the latest version, how do I do that?

You've probably ended your subscription for the virus definitions, so no, you are no longer protected by that antivirus program. There are other good antivirus programs that you can download, I personally use AVG. However, others include Avast and Avira.

4. I have copied the absolute minimal number of files I would like to save but again I have a concern about reinfecting the computer, should I be concerned?

Really depends on the type of file, etc. Text documents and images have a much lower probability of getting infected than, say, executables.

5. Do I need more than the Windows firewall or a different firewall?

I, personally, follow bad practice and only use Windows firewall, because I am protected by my router. However, if you'd like maximum protection, then yes, another firewall is necessary.

6. Is Spybot S&D enough, I was thinking that I should purchase mbam? Can I run multiple anti-spyware programs?

Again, I do not use anti-spyware programs but there are a lot out there. MBAM is really, really good when it comes to fighting the latest malware, and purchasing it would be a step in the right direction. You can have multiple programs installed on your computer but not running, because they have real time scanning. Having multiple anti-spyware programs running is exactly like having multiple anti-virus programs running at the same time - they conflict and effectively reduce your level of protection.

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#3 hamluis

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 12:21 PM

Nice post by Aommaster.

I will just add:

a. The basic differences between the Windows firewall and 3d-party firewalls...does not lie in their abilities to protect the system from incoming potentially-damaging attacks. The key differences are:

1. Windows firewall does not monitor outgoing traffic, whereas 3d-party apps do. This is useful for those of us who want to know what's trying to connect from our systems...but it's not necessary to many users who just want something to protect the system.

2. 3d-party firewalls give users various controls over which applications are permitted to run, connect to the Internet, etc., while the Windows firewall is not made to give these controls to users.

b. The general recommendation I've seen made suggests that users employ at least 2 antispyware/antimalware programs to deal with items which escape the notice of AV programs. There are a ton of these programs (and false imitators) out there.

I use Spybot as one of mine because I feel (I don't have anything to to back this up, other than looking at the way that it works) it protects against a given type of malware (but not all). I use SUPERAntispyware ICW Spybot because I think it does an overall good job (but, again, does not necessarily protect against the same types of items Spybot concerns itself with.

I've used Spybot for a number of years and SAS for a couple of years...I'm satisfied with each and I'm sure that there are other programs that function just as effectively on the systems of other users.

Contrary to what some seem to think...you can use as many of these types of programs (within reason) as you like, without conflict. But a user should only run one AV program, more than one just creates a potential setting for system problems.

I would suggest staying away from including Windows Defender and Lavasoft's Ad-Aware in the programs you decide to run.

Louis

Edited by hamluis, 17 January 2009 - 12:57 PM.


#4 chattykk

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 12:47 PM

To paraphrase another poster, thank you smart computer people!!!

#5 dc3

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 01:09 PM

2. I was preparing to do the SP3 update when the infection happened, should wait until after the reformat and reinstall
to do that or shall I just start with the SP3 update?
If you reformat, you basically wipe the harddrive and start clean. So upgrading to SP3 before the reformat doesn't make a difference. And besides, there are some problems with SP3 with regards to hardware.


The problems that were related to the SP3 were with AMD processors, and they have addressed this problem.

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#6 aommaster

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 02:12 PM

The problems that were related to the SP3 were with AMD processors, and they have addressed this problem.

Have they fixed the HD Audio problem too?

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#7 ghostwarrior25

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Posted 10 January 2009 - 02:57 PM

If your Mcafee subscription is still active, go ahead and install that one you have, and then go to the Mcafee website login, and there will be a link to update your product to the latest version.

If not active, take a look at the alternatives here on the forum.

#8 chattykk

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 09:18 AM

Well I took the plunge and using "Killdisk" proceeded to reformat the hard drive. Not only did it fail with a blue screen with the usual Windows error message but now it appears that the original CD containing the OS is useless too - refused to boot. Could this be a hardware failure and my
time and effort are futile? What are my options?

Researched purchasing XP Professional to replace the failed CD and at $260+ it is not the option I
would like right now. Hubby has been laid off for months, house is on the market(and not selling), son is going off to college in Sept. etc. If I must purchase new XP, will do it but will not be happy about it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated since I am feeling like a complete idiot right now.

Kathy

#9 rosiesdad

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:25 AM

Well I took the plunge and using "Killdisk" proceeded to reformat the hard drive. Not only did it fail with a blue screen with the usual Windows error message but now it appears that the original CD containing the OS is useless too - refused to boot. Could this be a hardware failure and my
time and effort are futile? What are my options?

Researched purchasing XP Professional to replace the failed CD and at $260+ it is not the option I
would like right now. Hubby has been laid off for months, house is on the market(and not selling), son is going off to college in Sept. etc. If I must purchase new XP, will do it but will not be happy about it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated since I am feeling like a complete idiot right now.

Kathy

Not too likely that the XP cd is "defective", unless it was out of the sleeve and all scratched and goobered up.
Make sure that you enter bios and have the boot set up so your computer will boot to your cd drive 1st, hd second..
Insert cd, power down and repower. It usually boots to xp cd.

#10 hamluis

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:00 PM

This CD you are attempting to use for the install...is it a Microsoft XP install CD or is it a recovery/restore CD of some sort?

System manufacturer and model?

If that info is already posted, chalk it up to my inability to properly read :thumbsup:.

Louis

#11 chattykk

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:08 PM

Sorry for the lack of clarity. It is the OS CD that came with the Dell PC when it was purchased in 2003. Unfortunately, it has been shuffled around and does indeed appear to have a scratch.

I bit the bullet and purchased a copy of XP Professional, have not received it yet so it can be returned, but now I am reconsidering that decision.

May be more cost and time effective to purchase an e-machine. PC is primarily used for
Office products for son with school, internet, e-mail and paid music downloads, listening to radio, etc. No IM, skype, gaming.

Concerns with a new e-machine are the peripherals. Need to use existing monitor, printer and some
software that I am not certain is compatible with Windows Vista. I think I can continue the McAfee license I just renewed in Oct. 2008, some other products like Dragon Naturally Speaking and a software package for son's scout troop may not work.

Thanks for the input but I think this thread can be closed since it is all about my decision.

Kathy

#12 aommaster

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 12:12 PM

Unfortunately, it has been shuffled around and does indeed appear to have a scratch.

Really depends on the size and the depth of the scratch on the CD. CD's are more resilient than most people think, so you may want to try it on another PC to just ensure it's dead :thumbsup:

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