Hi, folks -
It must be true that when it rains, it pours. I had a little malware problem with a laptop the other day. Now I've got another problem on an entirely different machine.
I have a Compaq Presario CQ5300Y desktop that has been acting wonky the past few weeks. I first noticed the machine was running pretty slowly... and was periodically kicking out messages that applications needed to be shut down because there wasn't enough memory to run them. (The machine has only 2GB, but it's really only used for surfing the Internet.)
I ran the HP/Compaq hardware diagnostic tools and it came up with a fail on the SMART Short Self Test. I rebooted and was able to get into the OS just fine. A couple of days later, I ran the diagnostic tools again and the SMART Short Self Test passed. So... I didn't think too much about it.
A few days later, I had trouble starting Windows... got a message saying Windows is unable to start. So, I ran Startup Repair and was able to get into the OS. I immediately started thinking maybe it was a virus/malware, so ran a bunch of scans with Avast! (pro version), Malewarebyte's Anti-Malware, rootkill, and a few others. Stuff was detected, but the programs were able to remove the malware/virus.
This morning, however, I can't get into Windows at all. When I tried System Restore, I got a brief message about the D: drive being corrupt. Startup Repair can't fix the problem and keeps wanting me to run System Restore. I've tried to restore back to four different restore points, but to no avail. Realizing that HP/Compaq puts the recovery programs on the D: partition, I figured I'd use my recovery disks instead. I booted with the recovery disk, but still can't repair or load Windows. I ran the hardware diagnostics tool from the recovery disk, though, and it came up with a fail on the SMART short self test again.
I'd REALLY like to avoid having to replace the hard drive if it's not necessary... so my question is this - When the SMART short self test fails, is it ALWAYS because the drive is bad? Or could it be a virus that's trying to make me think the drive is bad?
What are my options and what steps should I take?