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XP Won't start, even in safe mode


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#1
Mike T

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So i was trying to clean out a virus using my Symantec Antivirus software. It was a Trojan Virantix, one of the ones that installs an "antivirus" program that is in itself a virus. It kept bringing up a window telling me my computer was infected, and my Windows security center was reading this program as my antivirus. Basically, I could never close out of the program, i was getting a bunch of pop-ups, etc. SO i followed the instructions on Symantec's website to update my virus definitions and try a full system scan, then to delete the malware. If i couldn't delete in normal mode, it told me to try in safe mode. So I rebooted in safe mode and went to run a full system scan. The computer froze midway through the scan (about 35 minutes and 70,000 files in). I could tell it froze because the timer didn't move at all when it got to this picture. I tried Ctrl+Alt+Del, got nothing. My computer was frozen solid.

So after I let it sit for like 45 minutes to see if it would do anything, I gave up and tried to manually shut down and restart it. When i went to restart it, it brings up the black screen that came up originally before the windows logon screen. It says "Safe Mode" in each corner, and I have a mouse cursor, which moves around and all (so it's not frozen), but it does not advance past this screen. Any idea on how to force it to go back into Windows?
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#2
jt1990

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Try running a repair install of Windows. If that fixes the issue, please go to the Malware Removal Forum, but read THIS before posting a HijackThis log.

If the repair install doesn't fix the problem, post back here and we'll see if we can sort it out.
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#3
Mike T

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OK slight problem. I followed the instructions for the repair, and it looked like it installed all the files. The yellow bar went all the way across the screen, and it went to 100%, then said something like "Initializing Windows XP Setup..." so that looked good. Next thing I know, it goes to go into windows in safe mode (by starting with that black screen that says "safe mode" in each corner, like I mentioned in the prevous post). Then, it brings up an error message saying "Winows XP Setup cannot run under Safemode. Setup will restart now." All I can do is click "OK," which reboots the computer and tries to reinitiate the setup. Then it just goes back to this screen with the error. Problem is, I can't get into windows to turn off Safemode so it can continue setup. Is there a way i can do that from a command prompt? And if so, how do I get the command prompt to show up when I start the computer up? It's an HP desktop, if that helps.
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#4
Mark D

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Howszit?

Sounds like your hard drive has some wrinkle in it. If the repair procedure did not ask for your Product Code, boot from the XP CD again and choose the 1st repair choice. It will ask you what Windows you'd like to log onto, (unless you've done multiple installs, there should only be one), then it will ask for an Administrator password. It normally is blank, just press enter. It should then get to a command prompt. Type CHKDSK /P and press enter. It will run a quick hard drive check and hopefully get you out of your Safe mode start loop. After its finished, type Exit and press enter. When you restart, the Windows repair routine should then finish, asking you 1st for region settings, then for Product Code, then re-initializing all device drivers. Good luck...
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#5
Mike T

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Tried it, but it keeps starting in Safe Mode, and I'm stuck in the loop. I also tried hitting F8 when it starts up, and selecting "Start Windows Normally." But it keeps going into safe mode. Any other ideas?
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#6
Mark D

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At this point, it sounds like you may have to install a fresh copy of windows. If you have important data on the drive that has not been backed up, be sure not to re-format the partition when it asks you to, (leave the file system intact). You can either have the install wipe all the files in the existing Windows folder, or give it a different name where to install. Bear in mind that this will require you to re-load all your device drivers, (video - MB - sound and PCI cards) and programs, but it should restore the system to where it will start normally. Your data folders will be in the Document and Settings folder under your current profile name. If you choose to install to a different folder than windows, you will be asked which Windows to start when it's all finished.

Did you see the words "CHKDSK is performing additional checking or recovery..." when you ran the chkdsk routine? That would be an indication that it had found an error and was trying to correct it.
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#7
Mark D

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At this point, it sounds like you may have to install a fresh copy of windows. If you have important data on the drive that has not been backed up, be sure not to re-format the partition when it asks you to, (leave the file system intact). You can either have the install wipe all the files in the existing Windows folder, or give it a different name where to install. Bear in mind that this will require you to re-load all your device drivers, (video - MB - sound and PCI cards) and programs, but it should restore the system to where it will start normally. Your data folders will be in the Document and Settings folder under your current profile name. If you choose to install to a different folder than windows, you will be asked which Windows to start when it's all finished.

Did you see the words "CHKDSK is performing additional checking or recovery..." when you ran the chkdsk routine? That would be an indication that it had found an error and was trying to correct it.
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#8
Mike T

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When the Disk Check was done, it said it had "found one or more error(s)" on the drive. It didn't do anything after that, so I exited out.

Is there anything excessively complicated in the fressh windows install that I could mess up and accidentally cause a loss of information? This is my girlfriend's computer, and she'd kill me if I just wiped her drive if there is any way to avoid it.

I also have been posting to a forum on AfterDawn.com. One of the fellows on there suggested I download and burn a CD of free antivirus software, to create a boot disk, from here: http://www.afterdawn...rity/index3.cfm

What do you think of this? Is it legit / will it wreck the computer? Is AfterDawn.com in general legit?
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#9
Rorschach112

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I would not trust Afterdawn, their reputation is iffy at best

I am sure somebody will have some ideas

You didn't install ERUNT or create a registry backup before trying to fix your PC ?
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#10
Mike T

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I backed up the registry, but did not install ERUNT. The nest set of advice I got from AfterDawn was to go into the bootconfig option from the DOS prompt and edit it. Here are the instructions the guy linked to:

http://discussions.v...amp;postcount=6

What do you make of that idea?
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#11
Mark D

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Mike T,

If the CHKDSK didn't do anything after saying it had found some errors, then you didn't wait for it to finish(?) It should have shown you a percentage complete and gone to 100% with stats afterwards. I just ran it on a notebook today which after sometime reported that it had "unrecoverable errors".

Try the CHKDSK again and give it time to finish...
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#12
Mike T

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OK, I'll try that first thing when I get home tonight. Maybe my impatience got the best of me :) Thanks a lot for all your help. I'll let you know if that still doesn't work
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#13
Mike T

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I tried it again, and let it go to 100%. It says "CHKDSK found one or more erros on the volume." then it tells me how many kilobytes I have, and my allocation. Then it goes back to C:\WINDOWS> Command Prompt. I then type "EXIT" (without the quotes), to reboot the computer. I get a blue Windows XP screen that says "Setup is being restarted......................" Then it goes back to the black screen w/ "Safe Mode" in each corner and my Windows version across the top. Then I get the error message that says "Windows XP Setup cannot run under Safemode. Setup will restart now." And the only option I have is to just click "OK" in the box. Even if I click "x" in the top right corner, it reboots.
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#14
Mike T

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and what do you make of these instructions? I want to try them out but fear I could permanently damage the boot configuration
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#15
Mike T

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http://discussions.v...amp;postcount=6
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