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Widespread Failure.


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#1 Lost in Cyberspace

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 03:22 PM

I checked my computer for malware & spyware and found no malware or spyware. Used Spybot 1.4, Ad-Aware SE Personal with latest definitions & HijackThis latest version.


TYPE OF COMPUTER:

Dell Dimension 4100
about 750 MHz processor
40-gig hard drive (only small amount in use)
Windows 2000 Pro
56 model, dial-up to MSN


SYMPTOMS:

Symptoms began 10-14 days prior to main failures with apparently harmless occassionally flickering desktop and quick-start icons. Then about a week prior, Opera browser stopped bookmarking pages from Menu Bar -- but *would* bookmark from right-click menu. Then, on Sunday, 23 July I experienced a rare problem shutting down. Got a "program not functioning" box. Clicked the "Cancel" button. Screen froze showing only my Wallpaper. Control-Alt-Delete did nothing. Switching off power did nothing. Had to unplug computer to shut down.

Upon next start up I found the following symptoms:

Complete wipe of Network & Dial-Up Connections folder. All objects gone!

Add/Remove Programs also gone. Odd-colored, empty Add/Remove Programs box appears with description of program in text at top.

Internet Access Wizard malfunctioning. OK till page 3 where "country/region" text box is blank -- country/region list wiped out. Clicking on that box immediately ends the program with the following warning box message: "icwconn1.exe has generated errors and will be shut down by Windows. You will have to restart the program. An error log is being created."

Malfunctioning Computer Management program. Clicking on "Properties" in that program yields no Properties Box. Yet program will not close after attempting this. Warning box states: Must close all Property Boxes before program can close. But no Properties Boxes visible! Have to shut down to end this program.

Malfunctioning Event Viewer. Clicking, double-clicking or right-clicking on Errors yields no Event Properties box. I am, therefore, unable to access details of numerous error, warning, and information postings in that Viewer.

File or Folder Search malfunctioning from Start Menu. Clicking yields nothing.

Many Help Menu pages missing. They are often exactly the pages needed to investigate these problems. For example, I received an "Error 711" message at one point. When I attempted to look up the definition of that Error, the page was not available.

Unable to move, transfer or copy files.

Desktop icons no longer moveable.

Dial-Up portion of one installed program was eviscerated.

One program window display often de-selects itself from active status.

Real Network driver for playing in-computer music missing. Cannot play in-computer music files.

Some subtle changes in colors of some windows, dialogue boxes, backgrounds, etc.



The two most common patterns seem to be:
1. Not everything works when clicked on.
2. Programs, parts of programs & files are missing. Most have something to do with accessing the Internet.

Although I continue to find problems, some programs seem to remain unaffected and function normally at this time. All was functioning normally right up until the failure. Only the blinking icons and problems bookmarking mentioned above preceeded this massive failure/loss. The computer takes longer to start now than it used to, but still boots. It has shut down normally every time since the original failed shut down.


WHAT'S BEEN TRIED/DONE:

Control-Alt-Delete (failed)
Reboot. (several)
Hard reboot. (several)
Spybot scan. (nothing found)
Ad-Aware SE scan (nothing found)
Disk Check (normal -- okay)
No defrag necessary (according to computer)
HijackThis scan (no malware found)
HijackThis Uninstall list run (no malware found)


The Catch 22 is that I can't access the Internet. Internet Install Wizard will not let me create a new account to replace the one wiped out. Yet Internet access is required to get help! Am using another, old, computer to post, download, etc.

VIRUS SITUATION:

My virus situation is unknown. Former owner of computer who gave it to me didn't use any antivirus -- told me it wasn't necessary if Spybot & Windows Updates were kept up-to-date, which I did religiously for the year I've had it. He used the computer for gaming a lot and had a high-speed connection. Because all antivirus programs require Internet sign-up to activate, I'm unable to install any antivirus program now that the computer has broken down. I may try to install Kaspersky 6.0 downloaded with multiple floppy disks to my ancient NEC Ready 9625 computer (Windows 95, 166 MHz CPU, 2-gig hard drive).


GOAL:

Fix problem with minimum loss of files, programs, & settings and at no cost or lowest cost; avoid calling expensive help lines or taking computer to a repair shop.


Should I:

A. On Start Up, hit F8 & try Last Known Good Configuration?

B. Initiate an Emergency Recovery Disk? (I may have one.)

C. Reload Windows 2000 Pro? [If so, how would I do this without a functioning Add/Remove Programs system?]

D. None of the above.


Again, I'd like a solution that leaves my files, programs and settings as intact as possible.

Finally, I need to know what caused this in order to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Any help from any gurus out there would be very greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks!
_________________

Edited by Lost in Cyberspace, 08 August 2006 - 03:24 PM.


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#2 Enthusiast

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 04:51 PM

I suggest you try last known good config first.

You may be able to download AVG antivirus free using safe mode with networking at http://www.grisoft.com/doc/289/lng/us/tpl/tpl01

and if that doesn't work, boot with the W2K disk in the drive and reinstall.

#3 Lost in Cyberspace

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 10:53 PM

Thanks for your reply. I've posted in 4 fora since July 24th and you're the first person to reply.

Do I understand you correctly that you're suggesting I try to access the Internet from safe mode? Is that possible? What is "safe mode with networking?"

After studying various articles, reviews, posts, I thought I'd download Kaspersky 6.0 and install first before doing anything else. Figured if I can only have 1 antivirus, it may as well be a top-flite one. If I can access the Internet from safe mode, I'll download it directly. Otherwise, because I have no current access to a CD-writeable computer, I'll have to try to download it to floppy. Furthermore, I'm not sure the computer will even read a CD right now. It didn't read the last one I tried. But floppy is still functioning on it. Sure wish they made 3.5" disks bigger than 1.44 MG.

Have you ever heard of such crazy symptoms? What virus would prevent access to the Internet? Any chance it was an electrical spike, you think? Whatever it is, it just came out of the blue.

#4 acklan

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 11:51 PM

Yes, Enthusiast want you to enter the Boot Menu (F8) and select Safe Mode with networking. This will give you full acess to the internet. When you finish downloading you will have to install form the normal XP startup.
NOTE: If you have a USB NIC you may not be able to connect to the internet. USB NICs in some cases do not install until after Windows starts.
In the event your network software is damaged try LSP-Fix. This may repair your network connection, if that is your problem.
"2007 & 2008 Windows Shell/User Award"

#5 Enthusiast

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Posted 12 August 2006 - 11:40 PM

If last known good config and safe mode with networking didn't produce desired results, booting with the Windows 2000 Pro installation disk should enable you to format and do a fresh installation of Win 2k.

You may have to change the boot order in the bios to boot from CD if it doesn't automatically do so. Look at your screen while first booting up to see what key to press to enter bios or setup.

Do a full format (not a quick format) and choose the NTFS file system, not FAT32.

The installation should be intuative but you will need the 25 digit Windows Key number which should be on the COA that came with the Windows CD or on a sticker on the computer.

As soon as it is installed the first place you need to go is to Windows Update and there are four major service pacs (you will wish you had broadband!) plus numerous other critical updates.

Secondly, you need an anti-virus program and a firewall asap.

Freeware AntiSpyware and Security Programs

Software firewalls with freeware versions
(Run only one and disable the ineffective Windows XP firewall)

ZoneAlarm (freeware) V. 6.5.722
http://www.download.com/ZoneAlarm/3000-10435_4-10039884.html
(you can have only one software firewall running. More than one will conflict)

Comodo firewall (freeware)
http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/

Antivirus programs - freeware
(you can only use one resident anti-virus program on your computer. More than one will conflict)

AVG Free:
http://www.grisoft.com/doc/289/lng/us/tpl/tpl01

Avast Anti-virus freeware
http://www.komando.com/bestshareware.asp

Good luck!

#6 acklan

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Posted 13 August 2006 - 01:07 AM

Don't forget SyGate 5.5 Free Personal Edition. It is very easy to use, lite on resources and and like the others free.
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