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Hosed my laptop, looking for ideas


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#1 morganae

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 02:44 AM

I hate viruses etc, but I have to say that I am impressed with this one.

 

I have a Dell Inspiron 1720 running Vista 32bit that just got hit with one hell of a bug.  It was hidden in a video file and like the total professional masochist I am, I just had to see what this little bugger could do.  So, I opened it on the sacrificial laptop.

 

The cool/annoying part is that it appears to have killed my BIOS/Mainboard/Video Card.  The PC will power up, I will get the HD light for about 1/2 second, the light will then turn off and the fan will go crazy for a second.  The fan will go quiet and all I have left is a power light and the bluetooth light.

 

The interesting part is that the laptop screen appears to have 0 power, usually the LCD will at least be backlit if nothing else, not this time!  It's completely toast.

 

No beep codes, nothing on the screen at all, and the HD that had the nasty on it that was connected via USB has been wiped!

 

Whoever made this little turd is one mean SOB and I am so happy for sandbox computers.  This was a file someone had downloaded via eMule... I know that says a lot right there.

 

I'd give the file name, but I can't get anything now lol.

 

What can I say, I love finding something that I have no idea how to fix and this is one of those.  So, anyone familiar enough with the machine to suggest how to default the BIOS?  Otherwise it's a fine PC that is now a fine paper wheight

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Oh! And the video made the screen go blank but with the backlight on and the sound card went nuts at the same time.  Rebooting the PC usually at least allows me to get into diag or the BIOS or at least see if it will POST.  Not this time! 


Edited by hamluis, 11 March 2014 - 12:14 PM.
Modified topic title to reflect problem, moved to IH from Vista - Hamluis.


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#2 cryptodan

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:55 AM

I really doubt the Virus did as you say, because that would be one very well written virus. I am willing to bet, that your computer just crapped out at the same time you infected the computer. You will have to remove the battery, and clear the CMOS on your lap top to get it working again. Please consult your user manual on how to do this.

#3 morganae

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 02:13 PM

There is no battery in the laptop and it was left unplugged for hours.  Clearing the CMOS didn't help.  Dealing with this crap is what I do for a living (though I admit doing it for a living does not mean one does it well, but I do not fall under that catagory).

 

This is why I am rather impressed rather than annoyed.  I've seen BIOS bugs and ones that hose drivers etc, but the laptop has no issues and for it to suddenly have catastrophic failure when it was an otherwise perfectly good machine is silly, not impossible, but silly.  If the computer was having issues, there's usually something letting you know that the computer is on it's way out.  This however was a file that was highly suspect before it was run (which is why it was sandboxed to begin with) and it took out the machine is seconds. 

 

Honestly a well written bug makes far more sense than my external drive suddenly loosing it's file system, the LCD on the system completely loosing signal from the mainboard, and the machine loosing even the ability to POST, all in one instance...



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 02:42 PM

Anything happen when you tap F12 at boot?

Does a bootable CD work?

Does an external monitor hooked up to the laptop show the Dell logo.

 

Shut down. Remove the battery and power adapter. Hold the power button down for 30 seconds. Attach the power adapter but not the battery. Does it boot?



#5 morganae

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:11 PM

Since there is no signal to the LCD, I can't say what happens.  I do know that the Dell splash screen never appears nor do I see it POST.  If I tap F2 to enter the BIOS setup or F12 to enter boot selection, nothing happens (or at least I can't see anything happening).  I've not bothered with a bootable CD since I can't get to the BIOS to change the boot sequence or F12 to manually choose the DVD drive. 

 

There's no battery in the laptop and i left it completely unplugged for hours, holding down the power has no effect other than turning it off and on.  I will have do dig out an old CRT and see what it does on an external.  I am not expecting anything due to the fact that the HD lights up for 1/2 a second versus the normal flicker of constant actvity.

 

I posted this when I needed to get to bed and I'm in the office now, but I will try an external monitor and see what happens.

 

Kinda cool that it broke my external drive.  That's a first for me, usually I just get OS corruptions etc, the normal virus and malware activity.  This one, if a Virus, is a one mean little bugger.  I have another sacrificial laptop I plan on connecting the drive to when I get home to my lab so I can hopefully repair the NTFS file system and maybe get an identity on the bug. 

 

FYI, this machine was raw Vista.  No antivirus etc.  I fully expected this to be bad, so it's not really a suprise.  I am just after ideas in troubleshooting the down machine.



#6 JohnC_21

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:17 PM

I was kind of hoping that the BIOS was set to boot from a CD as the first device. If you can't boot to a CD or USB then there is no chance to even update the BIOS. Good Luck.



#7 cryptodan

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:46 PM

There is a BIOS Battery within the lap top you will have to take apart.

#8 NickAu

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 11:26 PM

 

I was kind of hoping that the BIOS was set to boot from a CD

Try this.

Remove the hard drive from the laptop and boot a live linux distro.

Without a Hard drive in your pc, It may skip to the next boot option.


Edited by NickAu1, 11 March 2014 - 12:25 AM.


#9 morganae

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 04:55 PM

There is a BIOS Battery within the lap top you will have to take apart.

 

It's like you think I'm 10!

 

Here's a little hint, been at this over 20 years and I'm certified to work on this exact machine and others so not only do I know that there's a battery, I even know where it is!  But keep pointing out the basics, it could be something really easy that I overlooked.

 

 

Here's what I've done in order to save people time and effort, then we can get some really weird ideas!

 

1) Unplugged the laptop and left it unpowered for hours, there's no battery to remove (haven't bothered to buy a new one)

2) Removed the CMOS battery in order to default the BIOS

3) Tried pressing and even holding, and tapping repeatedly the F2 button to enter the BIOS and the F12 button to attempt to boot off another device or enter diagnostics

4) Held down the power button for 30 seconds

5) Verified the monitor cable was connected properly

 

Here's the current situation

 

1) No signal to the LCD at all, nada.  No backlight, no splash screens, no POST, The bloody thing might as well be disconnected

2) The bug, or corrupt video file, broke the MBR on the external drive.  (SSD 3.5 sata drive on a USB adapter), I can recover this via a different machine

3) When you turn on the PC now, no video at all, the HD light flashes for a slight moment, the fan turns on for a slight moment, and then the machine goes quiet with only the power light on and the bluetooth on.  The laptop will not progress past that point.

4) The USB adapter works fine with other drives and I can connect the dead drive to another PC and my recovery tools can find the data.  I've not rebuilt the MBR yet.

 

What happened:

1) When the corrupted video file went crazy, it was in mid video and the sound card locked and played the last tone constantly until the machine was shut off

2) The video signal was lost at the same time as #3 above, but the LCD backlight was still on (so back but still lit, no image)

3) The external HD MBAR broke at the same time, data is still on the drive, should be recoverable.

 

The latop:

 

1) Sandbox laptop (no network connection, used to test updates and as a sacrifical lamb to test possible dangerous files) Dell Inspiron 1720

2) Windows Vista SP1

3) It had a Toshiba 3.5 64gb SSD using exFAT connected via a USB adapter

 

The Down and Dirty:

 

I can't see any point in dealing with the current HD in the laptop until I can get it to at least POST or allow me into the BIOS, nothing in the OS etc is going to matter if it won't even POST.  The same goes for recovery disks, rescue disks etc.  I couldn't run a command if I wanted to.  I tried defaulting the BIOS by memory (I know the keystrokes by heart, but no idea if the BIOS screen ever loaded) and it didn't help.

 

This is why I am at a loss, I'd rather not have to go out and buy a new mainboard for this unit,  It's just not worth that much, which is one of the reasons it's one of my sandbox computers.  I have 8 others I can use, so this is not an emergency, I love the challenge this presents and you've all be very helpful for other issues that I've ran into in the past.

 

Keep up the suggestions and the good work!  I'll try anything, even the stuff I think is silly!



#10 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:35 PM

Sounds crazy but I have read on other forums where a bad CMOS battery can keep a computer from booting. Even if it checks okay, may be worth a try to replace the battery and see what happens.

 

Came across this blog where it has happened to someone.

 

http://www.johndscomputers.com/2011/geek-friday/geek-friday-computer-wont-boot-might-be-a-bad-cmos-battery/



#11 cryptodan

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:37 PM

First let me say this, this is a forum and no one knows ones technical abilities nor do they know your certification and education level.

Secondly, having a condescending attitude on a forum where you are seeking help is very ill advised as it will get you no where very fast and very quick.

Finally, based upon my education and training in computers I would like to say that no virus caused the issues you are having. Your motherboard may have shorted out due to a video card getting over heated and the soldering becoming loose and you moved in such away that it caused the video card to become loose and slide off frying your motherboard. So take that diagnosis with a grain of salt, but that is my expert professional opinion.

Had this been a virus you could easily get a post but it appears that your motherboard is fried, so you may have to go out and buy a new one.

#12 NickAu

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:33 PM

 

Had this been a virus you could easily get a post

It's why I suggested a Live Linux and taking out the HDD



#13 morganae

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 05:39 PM

I've removed the HDD and there's no effect, even a lack of CMOS battery should make the laptop complain about the battery.  No HDD should make the machine complain about the lack of hard drive.  I've even unplugged the LCD and powered on the laptop, the effect is the same.  I'm starting to think the mainboard is toast.  If that's the case, it's time to recycle the machine and use another.

 

It uses an old SATA drive, which is annoying as heck because I have connections for everything but that one!  So off to Frys for a SATA to USB adapter so I pull data off the machine and see if there's any hints at what happened.

 

Thank goodness for throw away computers.  This is one amusing and nasty little bug, or really weird string of amazing coincidences.






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