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Virus Or Hard Drive Crashing?


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#1 jmots

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 12:34 PM

How can I tell if I have a virus or if my hard drive is crashing? I have windows XP home edition and just recently my computer started freezing up on me. Sometimes I can start up and open something, then it freezes, sometimes it freezes right away. I don't have a current backup, so I tried to copy some files to a CD last night, but froze up before I could write them to a disk. Any suggestions? What if I start up in "safe mode" will that help? If so, how do you do it? I know it's one of the "F" keys that I'm supposed to keep hitting when it's starting up, but I forgot which one.

Is there any help for me?

Edited by jmots, 17 October 2006 - 12:38 PM.


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#2 TMacK

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 12:57 PM

Hi jmots and Welcome to Bleeping Computer,
FYI, restarting and tapping on the F8 key will get you into safe mode.
A great diagnostic tool you should try is the WindowsOne Care Free Scan(On Line Scan).

To run the Windows One Care Free Scan,
Go to Windows Live Onecare Free Scan site using Internet Explorer.It will say "Get a free PC safety scan"
http://safety.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm
Make sure you click "Full Service Scan" in the middle of the page and not the "Try It Now Free" offer on the right side.
Allow the download of an Active X component.Choose "Complete Scan" in the window that opens.Click "Next"
Do not click on anything else that offers you a free trial or to sign up if you live in the US.
Allow it to scan - it may take quite a while, possibly two hours or so depending on the size of your hard drive is and how fragmented your registry and drive may be.
After completing the Windows OneCare Free Scan run both Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy from safe mode, updating each programís malware definitions before you reboot into safe mode to scan and allowing both to fix what they find.If you do not already have these freeware aps installed on your computer, you can get them at the following sites:
*AdAware SE:
http://www.majorgeeks.com/download506.html
*Spybot S&D:
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html


Edit;Here is a tutorial on How to Start Windows in Safe Mode.

Edited by TMacK, 17 October 2006 - 01:05 PM.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

aaaaaaaa a~Suzie Wagner

#3 quietman7

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 05:16 PM

Also download and scan with AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 in "SAFE MODE".
(This is Ewdio 4.0 renamed. If you already have Ewido installed, please update to this version which has a special "clean driver" for removing persistent malware). Be sure to print out the AVG Anti-Spyware Install-Scan Instructions.

Then perform at least two of these online Virus scans:
[Watch the Address bar in IE. You may receive alerts that "This site might require the following ActiveX control...Click here to install...". Click on that alert and then Click Install ActiveX component.]
Trend Micro Housecall
F-Secure Online Scanner Next Generation Beta - Be sure to follow the directions on the F-Secure page for proper Installation.
eTrust Antivirus Web Scanner - Be sure to read the eTrust Antivirus Scanner Help Guide before scanning.

The symptoms you describe could be viral related or they could be due to hardware or overheating problems caused by a failed processor fan, bad memory (RAM), failing power supply, CPU overheating, motherboard, drivers, etc. If your not finding any malware then its sounds like the latter problem. When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your computer? Open your machine and make sure the fans are working and the heat sink on the processor is not blocked with dust or debris. Remove the CPU's cooling unit and clean the fins on the heat sink that sits under the CPU with a can of compressed air. Dust restricts the airflow and prevents proper cooling. You can also remove the cards, RAM modules, clean and reseat them. Check your connections and fans to make sure they are working properly and monitor the temperature. If the computer is overheating, it usually begins to restart on a more regular basis.

In Windows XP, the default setting is for the computer to reboot automatically when a fatal error occurs. If that fatal error only occurs when you're shutting down, the system reboots automatically and you should be able to see the error by looking in the Event Log. An alternative is to turn off the automatic reboot so you can actually see the error code when it happens. This is a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

To change the recovery settings and disable automatic rebooting, do this:
1. Right-click on My Computer and select Properties > Advanced tab.
2. Click the Advanced tab.
3. Under "Startup and Recovery" click on the "Settings" button and go to "System failure".
4. Make sure "Write an event to the system log" is checked and that "Automatically restart" is UNchecked.
5. Click "OK" and reboot.

Doing this won't cure your problem but instead of restarting you will get a blue diagnostic screen with information displayed that will allow you to better trace your problem.

Download and run Motherboard Monitor 5. If Motherboard Monitor's seems to be reporting high temperatures for your CPU check to see what your max CPU temp is from here.

There are suggestions for troubleshooting power supply, video card, CPU, RAM, MB and hard drive here and here.

Try Microsoft's Online Crash Analysis - The Windows Memory Diagnostic tests the Random Access Memory (RAM) on your computer for errors. The diagnostic includes a comprehensive set of memory tests. Also see Memtest86+ and Memtest86.

Check for problem entries in Device Manager.
Check for updates to your drivers with a free Driver Scan.
Check your computer's Disk Health here.
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#4 jmots

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 11:36 AM

Well, I was all ready to try Tmack's suggestion, but my computer continued to freeze up, even in safe mode, before I could get a chance to do anything. Windows will start up, I can see desktop and files, and then it freezes. Something I didn't mention before: I can't turn off the computer, it doesn't respond. So each time I've had to turn the power off, which makes me cringe! I was reading somewhere else on this website about making a CD and starting up with "puppy". Has anyone ever heard of this??? I also have a wireless keyboard and mouse, can this have anything to do with it?

#5 TMacK

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:14 PM

Sometimes a wireless keyboard/mouse can cause problems,but I would only blame them if you just started to use them.
When your computer freezes up do you try pressing the Ctrl/Alt/Delete buttons all at the the same time? This should bring up the Task Manager with a message that you've discovered an unresponsive application.
The Task Manager lists the names of currently running programs,including the one thats nots responding.
Click the name of the program thats causing the problem,then click the End Process button.
If that still doesn't work,try clicking the Task Managers Shut Down menu and choose Restart. Your computer should shut down and restart,hopefully returning in a better mood.
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

aaaaaaaa a~Suzie Wagner

#6 quietman7

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:16 PM

I also have a wireless keyboard and mouse, can this have anything to do with it?

When the batteries go on my wireless mouse, it appears the computer freezes when that is not the case. It would be odd for both the keyboard and mouse to go at the same time but it would not hurt to toss in new batteries to elimate them as a possible cause.

You also may want to start with some of the hardware basics I suggested like making sure the fans are working and the heat sink on the processor is not blocked with dust or debris. Remove the CPU's cooling unit and clean the fins on the heat sink that sits under the CPU with a can of compressed air. Remove the cards, RAM modules, clean and reseat them. Check your connections and fans to make sure they are working properly, etc.
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#7 jmots

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:29 PM

It hasn't responded to the Ctl/Alt/Del to get the task manager since this started happening. It just doesn't respond to anything, including the switch that turns the computer on and off. This is so weird!! Quietman:
I will try what you suggested, it couldn't hurt! I know the fan is running, because it's always been kinda noisy, but I've never cleaned it in 5 years, so I'm sure I will find some dust bunnies.

#8 TMacK

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 03:11 PM

The BC tutorial Cleaning The Interior of Your PC is quite helpful.
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

aaaaaaaa a~Suzie Wagner




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