A little background on what I suspect has caused my problemsÖ
I used a brand new Dell laptop for work last year. After I accepted a job back home, I copied all of my work files from the Dell onto my Compaq so Iíd have portfolio materials. For the most part, they were sports-related InDesign, Photoshop, Word, and Acrobat files, as well as some photos. I noticed that after I got back to Omaha (and started using my personal Compaq more often), things were running strangely.
A few weeks after Iíd left, my co-workers mentioned that my Dell work laptop had been sent to IT for re-imaging before it was given to another employee. Apparently there were loads of viruses on it Ė eight in my desktopís basketball folder alone Ė and it had to be re-imaged over a dozen times to get everything straightened out. I suspect that my love of celebrity gossip sites has something to do with the source of those viruses, but I canít be sure. But it was then that I put two and two together Ė Iíd put those same files and folders on my own laptop, which is when it started acting up.
Now on to what Iím seeing on my Compaq...
Iím noticing a "phantom" Windows start menu come up on my screen, if that makes sense. My screen "blinks" or "shudders" in some way, and in place of the green "start" button in the corner, I see a "Start" button come up. The key thing is that itís a capitalized S instead of the normal lowercase one. Part of the screen also seems to revert to a classic Windows look, while other parts look XP-ish.
When Iím browsing the internet using Firefox, sometimes my wireless network will just stop working. Where I used to click on the wireless connections icon in the right-hand corner, it will now indicate no wireless is available. When I check the wireless networks in range, my in-home network Ė "Big 12" Ė is not listed as an option, and Iím advised that Windows does not manage my wireless connections (which is incorrect Ė it does, when things are working properly). Either that, or wireless will be available, but itíll be a network called "Access Point" instead of my own "Big 12."
Also when Iím in Firefox, I experience frequent crashes when I try to google something. This morning I tried using Bing as an alternative, but itís done the same thing multiple times. Iíve found that often the only way I can get operable internet again is to restart my whole system, but Iím still very cautious to do anything of importance online.
Finally, upon booting up my system, I get two messages that pop up every time. The first is one about Data Execution Prevention. It says: "To help protect your computer, Windows has closed this program. Generic Host Process for Win32 Services. Publisher: Microsoft Corporation." I get a subsequent message about sending a data report to Windows about it. This happens twice each time. Secondly, I get a wide message about Windows Defender. It reads: "Application failed to initialize: 0x800106ba. A problem caused Windows Defender Service to stop. To start the service, restart your computer or search Help and Support on how to start a service manually."
Could anyone advise me on how I should proceed? I had an internet repair associate recommend I post here and likely run ComboFix at your suggestions. Iím hesitant to take the computer to GeekSquad or somewhere similar because I donít want them to charge me $200+ just to reimage my computer and call it good.
To summarize, Iíd like to a) get my system working smoothly and safely again, and make sure that all my files arenít infected for the future (and if they are Ė get all the junk off my computer without losing my materials!). Iíd sure appreciate whatever insight youíve got!
Edited by bonnie3, 02 October 2010 - 12:36 PM.