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