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"Combofix-Add Recovery Console to Boot Menu" Problem


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#1 AlanCB

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 05:47 PM

Please help me resolve the following problem.

I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro M70-220 laptop, 60GB HDD, Pentium Mobile 750 Processor (1.8 MHz, 2MB Cache), 1.526 GB RAM, running on Win XP Pro SP3 (fully updated).

The laptop HDD has 4 partitions:

C: WinXP Pro SP3 OS, and all applications (pagefile for dumps)
D: Pagefile - to handle normal paging
E: Data & Downlaods
F: Backups

Have attempted to add the Recovery Console to the Boot menu on my Satellite Pro M70 laptop running on Win Pro XP3, using the method detailed in the ComboFix procedure given by Bill Castner in "Add "Recovery Console" to your Boot Menu -- Now! in the AumHa Forum.

I reached the stage where it said that the Recovery Console was succesfully installed, and I clicked on "No" to exit, and the CF-RC.txt log appeared; the CF-RC.txt looked OK:

WindowsXP-KB310994-SP2-Pro-BootDisk-ENU.exe
[boot loader]
timeout=2
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
C:\CMDCONS\BOOTSECT.DAT="Microsoft Windows Recovery Console" /cmdcons
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect


So I then attempted to delete the 2 downloads, starting with the Combofixe.exe. When I attempted to right-click on the Combofix.exe icon, the "hour-gloss" pointer appeared, and I was unable to get in the right-click menu to delete Combofix.exe. In fact the whole Windows screen appears to have frozen; the hourglass pointer remains active over the whole screen, except across the bottom toolbar, where it changes into the normal arrow-head pointer, but the latter is also unable to elcit any response e.g. won't bring the menu at the Start button on the left side of the toolbar, so I cannot even turn-off or resart the laptop byclicking on Start> Turn Off etc.


The Combofix procedure I used for adding the Recovery Console to the Boot Menu was as follows:

1. Turned off real-time scanning of the CA Anti-virus software
2. Turned off the Auto/online defrag option of Diskeeper Pro 2009 on all 4 partitions.
3. Cleaned up desktop of unused icons.
4. Disconnected peripherals except for the ADSL modem
5. Rebooted the laptop
6. Created System Restore Point named "Before Install of Recovery Console"
7. Downloaded Combofix.exe to Desktop from the link - download.bleepingcomputer.com/sUBs/Combofix.exe.
8. Downloaded WindowsXP-KB310994-SP2-Pro-BootDisk-ENU.exe to the Desktop, from the link given in http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310994
9. Ensured that all programs & open windows were closed. (but did not disconnect the ADS(USB)modem). Checked in Windows Task manager that there was nothing in the Applications Tab, and although there were 58 items listed in the Process tab, none were Antivirus scanning or Spy/Malware scanning processes. Nothing was said in the "Add "Recovery Console" to your Boot Menu -- Now!" procedure about doing a "Clean BOOT", so I did not do one.
10. Dragged the Win XP Pro SP2 Setup package onto Combofo.exe and dropped it.
11. Followed the prompt to start Combofix and agreed to the End-User License Agreement.
12. Eventually the "What's Next" Box popped up advising that:
The Recovery Console was successfully installed.
Click 'Yes' to continue scanning for malware
Click 'No' to exit
I clicked "No"
13. I then attempted to delete the 2 downloads, starting with the Combofix.exe. As soon as I attempted to right-click on the Combofix.exe icon, the hourglass pointer appeared, but not the right click menu and the screen froze.
The hour glass pointer does not disappear, except at the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, where it changes to the normal arrow-head pointer, but nothing on the toolbar including the Start Button responds to it.All frozen.
14. The CF-RC.txt appears to be normal as indicated above (should I have closed it before attempting to delete the 2 downloads ?)
15. I left the laptop on and plugged into the AC power supply, and after about 5 hours the laptop automatically went into "Standby Mode". I pressed button briefly to bring it out of Standby Mode, but although the hourglass icon re-appeared, the screen just went from black to grey, that is, the Windows Desktop did not reappear.
16. I then decided to put the laptop back into standby mode by closing the lid, and I turned off the AC Power supply. The reason I did this is that I could not hear the fan running, and I was scared the laptop might eventually overheat, and/or I would damage the battery.

Note: A couple days ago I downloaded the free versions of MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware, and used both of them to scan the C: (winXP) partition. Nothing found except cookies. Since they are both free versions, they should not have been running in the background when I attempted the Combofix procedure to add the Recovery Console to the Advanced Boot Menu. I was still able to check the Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del) to confirm that Malware Bytes and SuperAntiSpyware were not running after screen froze. Neither does Combofix appear in Windows Task Manager Process tab.

What are my options for resolving this problem ?

Should I turn off the laptop manually by pressing the power button ?

If yes, what should I do after that ?

Should I turn on the laptop on again, and press F8 to try get into the Advanced Boot Menu, and then try to boot into Safe Mode ?
If I boot succesfully into Safe Mode, what should I do next ?

What should I do if it boots into the Recovery Console ?

Thank you for any assistance you can offer.

AlanCB

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#2 AustrAlien

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 06:42 PM

You appear to have been very thorough, and everything seems to have proceeded to plan, except for the last step, which I would interpret as a very minor problem (Combofix not realising that it had finished it's job?).

What I would have done:
Crl+Alt+Del and "Shut down" the system.

Wait 30 seconds and start the system.

I would expect all to be well.
----------
Try that if you wish.

Edit: Check the "Applications" tab in Task Manager to see whether Combofix is shown as running but not responding: If it is you can "End Process" there and that should fix the problem.

Edited by AustrAlien, 28 August 2009 - 06:44 PM.

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#3 AlanCB

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 11:22 PM

Thank you very much for your quick response. Much appreciated.

I did not know that I could do a Ctrl+Alt+Del to shut down the system.
I think I have tried that in the past, and it did not work for me. Maybe I did not hold down the keys long enough.
Anyway I will give the Ctrl+Alt+Del shutdown a try again, after I open the laptop lid to bring the laptop out of "Standby"; although the last time I opened the lid, I ended with a blank grey screen and the hourglass pointer, and not the Windows Desktop.

If Ctr+Alt+Del does not work, would shutting down the laptop by pressing the power button on the keyboard cause any problems ?

I did check the "Applications" tab in the Task Manager, and Combofix was not listed there. In fact there was nothing listed there.
I also checked the " Processes" tab, and checked individually, in detail, all 58 listed processes, by searching for each one on the
ProcessLibrary.com web page, and Combofix was NOT one of the listed processes.

Did you install the Recovery Console using the Combofix method ?

What can I expect to happen when I boot the laptop after I shut it down ?
Will it boot as normally into Win XP, or will it go directly to the Recovery Console page in the Advanced Boot Menu ?
Will I have to press F8 to access to the Advanced Boot Menu and the Recovery Console ?

I am wondering whether I should try to boot it into Safe Mode via F8/Advanced Boot Menu, and try again to delete the 2 downloads (Combofix.exe & Win XP Pro SP2 Setup package), if they are still on the desktop.

To make these forum posts, I am using my old Satellite 5105-S702 laptop, which luckily for me, I got going again a couple weeks ago by installing a new Hard Disk Drive.

Thanks again.

AlanCB

#4 AustrAlien

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 11:46 PM

Ctrl+Alt+Del will bring up a small window/dialog box, with several options including Task Manager, and Shut Down. If you click on "Shut Down", the system will do so.

If perchance the small window with the options does not appear after pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del, then try pressing Alt+S (the keyboard shortcut for the "Shut Down" button). If that does not shut the system down after a short time, then you have no option but to press the OFF button, and hold it down for >5 seconds to turn off the computer. Wait 1 minute before attempting to start it again. It may or may not cause a problem, but in my experience it is unlikely. Any problem caused by doing this can normally be remedied by running Error check on the hard drive (running chkdsk /r as it is often seen in the forums).

I did not use the Combofix method although I was tempted to do so (just for the heck of it!). I had the XP SP3 disk, so I used that instead.

Your system will boot normally, with the exception of a short (2 second) delay on the screen enabling you to change the default from XP to Recovery Console if you wished to do that. If you make no input, the XP system will boot as default. You will not have to make any input what-so-ever.

When you re-start the system, you will then be able to delete Combofix and Win XP Pro SP2 Setup by the usual means without any problem. There will be no need to use Safe Mode. (Yes, they will still be sitting on your Desktop.)

Always good to have more than one computer to use: It is essential!
Edit: It's a bit like owning a Range Rover .... you need to carry a mobile phone and a fire extinguisher!

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Edited by AustrAlien, 28 August 2009 - 11:52 PM.

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#5 AlanCB

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:32 AM

I just noticed that you replied to my last post (much thanks), just as I was about to post this update. Anyway I have decided to post this anyway, and I will update you further later.

Well, before reading your last reply, I opened the lid to bring the laptop out of Standby, resulting (as before) in a hourglass pointer on top of a grey screen.

I then pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del, and the Task Manager Window appeared , and for the first ever I noticed the "Shutdown" entry on the menubar of the Task manager Window.
I clicked on it, and selected the shutdown option.
Then the Windows "Shutting Down" screen (normal light blue background) miraclously appeared, and the only problem I experienced after that, was that an "End Process" Box appeared, either for Windows Explorer, or for Internet Explorer, I'm not sure which; although it must have been Windows Explorer, because I was not runnning Internet Explorer when I was installing the Recovery Console (at which time Internet Explorer did not appear either in the "Applications Tab" or the "Processes" Tab of Task Manager, but Explorere.exe was listed in the Processes tab, as would be expected).

Anyway the "End Process Box" seemed to hang, so I pressed the "End Now" button. Hope that was not the wrong thing to do.

Now to get the courage to start up the laptop again, or wait for for futher advice (which in fact I have effectively already received).

The anxiety and impatience in resolving this problem are hard to resist, but I do not want to make matters worse.

Fingers crossed.

AlanCB

#6 AustrAlien

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 12:41 AM

Anyway the "End Process Box" seemed to hang, so I pressed the "End Now" button. Hope that was not the wrong thing to do.


You are doing well. That was the correct (the only option, after waiting a "suitable" time period) thing to do.

All should be well.
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#7 AlanCB

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:06 AM

So far so good.

Started up the laptop by pressing the power button. It booted successfully via the 2 second timeout "Recovery Console vs Windows XP" Screen.

Before attempting to delete the 2 downloads, I closed the Lotus SmartSuite Task bar that is located across the top of the screen, and I then
attempted to change the Recycle Bin propertes to "Do not move the files to the Recycle Bin. Remove the files immediately when deleted", so
that I would not effectively have to delete each file twice.
However, as soon as I attempted to right-click on the Recycle Bin, the hourglass re-appeared, and I had to Shutdown the laptop again via Ctrl+Alt+Del.

I booted the laptop again, and this time I deleted each download in turn, starting with the Win XP Pro SP2 Setup Package. I made sure to empty
the Win XP Pro SP2 Setup package from the Recycle Bin before attempting to delete the Combofix.exe file.
After deleting the Win XP Pro Sp2 setup file from the Recycle Bin, I then deleted the Combofix.exe file via the same 2 step process.
Both files were succesfully deleted.

I would like to change the "timeout" for the "Recovery Console vs Windows XP" boot screen, from the default 2 secs to about 10 secs.
How can I do that without getting a "Selective Startup" Sytem Configuration Utility Window everytime I boot the laptop ?

Should I use the Recovery Console to do a "chdsk /p" on the C: partition, in order to check for and repair any errors, or alternatively do a "chdsk /r" to
check for and repair errors plus check for/locate any bad sectors and recover readable information ?


I used Diskeeper Pro 2009 a few days to do a ChkDsk prior to a boot-time defrag, and there were no bad sectors. So maybe the the "chdsk /p"
would suffice.

Or maybe I should use "chdsk /f" ( equivalent to chdsk /p in Recovery Console) on reboot from within Win XP i.e. open "My Computer"> select C:
partition> Properties> Tools>Error-Checking etc ?


Would appreciate any advice on this. Just concerned that some damage might have been done by Recovery Console/Combofix problem.

Thanks again for all your help.

AlanCB

#8 AustrAlien

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 04:23 AM

AlanCB BC

I would suggest that you do the following:

CHECK DISK - ERROR CHECKING UTILITY - Windows XP - "C: drive"

Use the Windows Error checking utility (Check Disk), with the options to scan the disk surface for errors, and attempt recovery of data and repair the disk.
Open "My Computer"
Right-click on the drive that you wish to check (C: drive/your System drive) > Properties > Tools > and in the "Error checking" section, click on "Check now".
Place a tick in both boxes > Start.
A message will notify you that a restart is necessary: Click OK, and close all windows.
Re-start the computer. The disk will be checked when the system boots.
This test will take some time to run and at times may appear stalled but just let it run.
When the disk check is complete, the system will re-start automatically and load Windows.
If any errors were found, it may be prudent to repeat the process.
---------------

Re: ""Recovery Console vs Windows XP" boot screen, from the default 2 secs to about 10 secs"

Yes, I changed mine to about 4 or 5 seconds: At 2 seconds, it barely flashed up on the screen.

Start > (Settings) > Control Panel > System > Advanced > Startup and Recovery area > Settings > System startup area > Edit
and change the timeout value from 2 to whatever you would like.
Click on File > Save
and close the Notepad window.
--------------------

FYI: Using MSCONFIG to manage startup items is generally not recommended practice by "those who should know best". Instead, it is widely recommended that an absolutely safe method to do this is by installing a small and simple program called Startup Control Panel. It will place an icon in Control Panel from which you can easily manage the startup items that are safe to "play" with.

http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml
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#9 AlanCB

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Posted 29 August 2009 - 05:00 AM

Great. Thanks. Will follow your advice.

Now I can go the beach without the pressure of the unknown (at least for the time being).

All the best.

AlanCB




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