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Help: malware likely caused PXE issues, crashing, maybe hard drive fai

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My computer is on the verge of being unbootable, very possibly because of a malware/scumware problem. Here's my story, and I'm hoping someone can advise what I should do.  I posted this same question on the hardware forum at http://www.geekstogo...-can-i-test-it/.
My Gateway NE56R is having bad problems involving BSOD, PXE-E61 and PXE-MOF error messages, system crashes and hangs. The trouble started a few days ago after I foolishly clinked on a spam email link that may have been malware/spyware bait. When I realized I may have downloaded a virus, I used my Windows Recovery Partition to delete my entire operating system and restore the computer to factory default settings. The BSOD/PXE crashes came back, though.
I am now wondering if the problem is that my hard drive is dying on me due to age (I bought the computer two years ago) or if malware/virus may have infected the system restore software that resides in the Windows Recovery Partition. I suspect the latter cause, because my computer has never been exposed to any trauma that would break moving parts. I've only been using the computer for two years. Either way, I'm not sure, though.
Is there any way I can run some tests to find out which is the problem here? I'm not a techie. I'd appreciate any advice offered.
Gateway NE56R
Windows 7 (Service Pack 1)
Intel ® Pentium ® CUP B950 @ 2.10 Ghz 2.10 GHz
4.00 GB (3.84 GB available)
64 bit OS
1. BSOD - flashes for about two seconds on my screen; I never have time to read all the details before it closes. It says something like, "System shut down due to a problem."
2. When I try to restart the computer, I'm frequently blocked by PXE-E61 (meia test failure, check cable) and PXE-MOF (exiting....?....no bootable device....insert boot desk and press a key).
3. I usually power down after getting PXE, then get the option of restarting in safe mode, etc.
4. When restoring a fresh OS system from the recovery partition (I've done it about two or three times now), I get blocked during "Windows Updates" downloads. I get the "Failure configuring Windows updates. Redirecting changes. Do not turn off your computer."

Edited by ed_nobles, 01 October 2014 - 03:34 PM.

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I used my Windows Recovery Partition to delete my entire operating system and restore the computer to factory default settings. The BSOD/PXE crashes came back, though.


That says to me that this is not a malware problem. I think your option to post in the Hardware forum is a good one.


Meantime I will close this topic. If you find you need to reopen it, just ask. :)

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