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"You have a virus" infection

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My husband received a popup message on his Gateway laptop running Windows Vista that indicated he might have a virus. He did not notice that the message was not from his Antivirus software (ZoneAlarm) and clicked scan. The scan indicated no problems.

When he told me about it, I advised him to run a scan with ZoneAlarm as the fake message may have installed some form of malware on his computer. ZoneAlarm did not find any problems. When he next booted his computer a few days later, he found that it was excruciatingly slow. Given that he has had this problem before, I suspected we needed to do some clean up work to remove unnecessary files and programs. (I had forgotten about the possible virus incident a few days earlier.)

I proceeded to Add/Remove programs in the Control Panel and asked it to Uninstall BigFix a program which came with the Gateway computer. It slowly did this. Given the lateness of the hour, I selected Shutdown and left the computer to shutdown.

Today, when the computer was booted, it popped up a message that it was unable to boot and suggested launching Windows boot repair which we did. (The only other option was Launch Windows Normally. Safe Mode was not a choice.) The Microsoft logo and green rotating lines appeared then the screen went black and the computer froze. Rebooting results in the same two choices and neither works.

I tried to boot the computer with the Recovery CDs I had made for the computer. The CD/DVD drive spins and tries to launch but then reverts to the same two choices. Something is preventing the Autolaunch. When I put the recovery CD in a different computer, it immediately launches.

Do you think this is a virus/malware issue or an issue of corrupted files on the hard drive? Since I cannot boot the computer in any way, I cannot make any attempt to identify the type of virus or to fix the problem.

Any suggestions you can give would be much appreciated!
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