I just got back from a perplexing stop at a new client's home to have a look at her misbehaving HP Mini netbook. Both the computer and it's owner are from Columbia, and by her own admission some software of dubious pedigree has been on the drive at one time or another.
There are several problems with the machine. First among them is that programs keep freezing. It seems to start up normally, but shortly after you launch any program (even explorer or the control panel), it hangs. This means among other things that I can't get into Device Manager to look at things like drivers because I can't get there before the freeze sets in. When it happens I can still get to the toolbar and use the start menu and so on, but if I try to launch any other programs, nothing happens. Also I can't force the shutdown of the "hung" programs.
I figured this sounded like a Class A virus situation, so I tried to download some tools like AVG. The Freeze got me, using both IE and Chrome. I tried loading up my USB Thumbdrive (full of troubleshooting tools). The HP won't admit that it even exists, and the access light on the stick never blinks.
She has an external USB HDD available, so I hooked it up. No soap. Again, not even rejected, just ignored. The HP WILL recognize an external DVD drive, but refuses to let me write anything to a black disc. In fact when I try the drive disappears altogether.
Oh, and as a final kicker, the machine is configured in Spanish (which I don't speak) and from what I've been able to find out you need a more elite version of Windows to switch the languages.
Finally, when you try to shut the system down, it gets as far as a black screen that still shows the mouse pointer and just stops. You have to do a hard reset to get it to reboot.
I'm about out of ideas. At this point I'm thinking exorcism, because this plays like a gypsy curse or something. I can't even wipe the drive and reinstall the O/S (not that I would anyway before recovering the data) because I can't get an alternate boot device recognized.
I'd be grateful for any sage advice. I've not worked much with these little jobbers, and the absence of a built-in optical drive is most aggravating in this situation. Thanks in advance.