Posted 09 May 2010 - 03:03 PM
Hi, all. Newbie here to the forums. ;) I hope I'm posting this to an appropriate forum, but if I'm not, my apologies. (Also, my apologies in advance for the wall of text, but I like to provide as much information as possible.)
Anyway, I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice regarding a fairly complex problem that led to the recent replacement of my PC and whether it's possible or advisable for me to try to grab files off the two hard drives from the old machine, which eventually went BSOD due to a SYSTEM_LICENSE_VIOLATION error (sorry, I forgot to get the precise Stop Code). Though that probably happened due to my own folly (more on that in a bit), I can't rule out the possibility of malware leading up to this, at this point. Please note that both the "dead" Windows 2000 machine and the "new" XP one were donated by friends, so I pretty much "got what I paid for" and had little choice in what was installed on them. Also, please note that the Windows 2000 machine "died" at the beginning of the year, and I got the replacement XP machine a month later; I've only just now gotten around to posting about this. ;)
The "dead" PC was running Windows 2000 on a Celeron 466 mHz processor with 128 MB of RAM. The OS is on a 10 GB HD, and there is also a nearly full 40 GB HD to store larger files; both are ATA drives using IDE controllers. I also used an external Western Digital MyBook 500 GB USB HD (I tried to swap it to the "new" XP machine and have run into a few problems getting it to work at all times; for some reason, at times, the XP machine wants to treat it like a bootable local disk instead of removable storage). Quite obviously, it was ridiculously slow, and even just running a few programs often caused Windows to have to increase virtual memory from 523k to the maximum of 625k. Over time, upgrades of certain programs (Firefox, SpyBot Search and Destroy, and ZoneAlarm, in particular) increasingly bogged down this machine to the point where it became nigh unusable for normal activities at times.
Without going into too much detail (if anyone wants the whole tl;dr -- or "too long, didn't read" -- saga of the problem's background, please let me know), I'll just say that through my own folly and self-surgery on the Windows 2000 machine (I'm the poster child for what all NOT to do *Sweatdrops*), I rendered it unbootable even in Safe Mode. I don't remember what the BSOD Stop Code was, but it was a SYSTEM_LICENSE_VIOLATION error. (Before you ask, why yes, I was a GENIUS who mucked around with HiJack This! and CCleaner, etc., to try to "clean up" the registry in an attempt to make the machine run faster. =P I learned quite a hard lesson from that.) Also, the last thing I remember doing before that happened was that I was running a whole slew of on-demand anti-malware programs I hadn't used before to see if malware was the cause for the increased slowness, and Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware had just quarantined two registry keys that were apparently the old remnants of adware I had gotten rid of some time back (that stupid Weatherbug, IIRC). Besides that, very little else was detected other than a couple of trojans in programs I'd downloaded ages ago but never installed (and previous anti-virus/anti-malware scans hadn't found anything in them either).
With all that said... is there a safe way that I can access the contents of both of the old drives without possibly infecting my XP machine if either of them have malware that can spread to the new machine? What I have in mind is to get an external hard drive enclosure and use that to copy needed files off each of the old hard drives, one at a time. However... since I don't know for sure what actually triggered the BSOD in the first place, I don't know how safe it is, and I don't want to take unnecessary risks in case there was a worm or virus present (doubtful, since I probably would have found it on the external HD by now, but...). I think I managed to disable auto-run on the XP machine, and I heard about Flash Disinfector after stalking some of the forum topics, but would that be a viable way to prevent any malware from automatically crossing over from the old drives to the XP machine? (And I'm aware that I'm probably just being paranoid here, but after all the horror stories I've read, perhaps my caution isn't unwarranted.)
I know that probably the better way would be to try to resolve the issue with the Windows 2000 machine using a recovery disk (I don't have one, but my XP machine has a CD/DVD burner that I can use to create one if need be). The only drawback is that I have only one monitor, keyboard, and mouse; it's doable (if inconvenient) to swap the cords back and forth. And I could then use a CD to scan the machine for malware without risking infection on the XP machine... but I'd still have to get it to boot up in Safe Mode first before I could get that to happen.
Thanks in advance, and please let me know if you need more information to advise me on this.
P.S. One other thing... the issue with the USB drive is something else I want to address, but I'm wondering if it's more appropriate to just go ahead and post a separate topic in the XP forum about it. I don't want to have too many open topics, but I actually think it's a separate enough issue having nothing to do with malware. Again, thanks!