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Windows 7: Newish Dell Inspiron won't fully reboot

18 May 2013   #1
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 
Newish Dell Inspiron won't fully reboot

Greetings. Forgive the newbiness here. I've been using computers since my Mac+ was helping me Mod dialups on my last Mac, so I'm not exactly new...

I am new to this forum. I first posted my problems on another hobby board where I usually get pretty good advice on just about anything. I first thought I had a virus and that doesn't seem to be the problem. I'm going to repost all of what I stated there to show what I've done to isolate/fix the problem including virus scans/attempts and such. Advice I received will be posted where relevant (I'll leave out the "get a Mac" and "throw it out the window" comments <grin>)

First the basics: Two year old-ish Dell Inspiron (N5050 if memory serves) running Windows 7, 6g of RAM. I run Avast free edition.

I bought it few from Dell's referb page but it hadn't ever been used before. I think it was the last of the run or something. Shortly after the 1-year warranty ran out, of course, I kept getting a black screen notifying me of a kernel dump telling me to notify the admin and I couldn't reboot into Windows.

After about 20 minutes with Dell's people on the phone, the guy had me reboot and do an F2, then "restore defaults" and "save and reboot" which solved the problem. Since then the same thing happens about every other week but the fix works and I'm good to go again.I relate that to explain that yesterday I got up and wanted to check my email quickly before leaving but the screen was black and had some information on it, but it looked different than the usual problem but I was in a hurry so I didn't bother to read it and just did the usual F2 thing.

So now I can boot into Windows and get to the "choose user" screen and it locks up after I enter my password. I can get into the computer with SafeMode and do almost anything for a while. If I try to run Avast it locks up at 4% (stuck there overnight) I'm trying to run SUPERAntiSpyware and it's locked up on IEDIAGCMD.exe. I doubt that file is the problem because it started going really slow shortly before that one.

Oh, I ran SUPER 3 days ago and was clean.

Oh, and it won't let me set up a boot-check, which is suspicious to me as well.
cont.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
18 May 2013   #2
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Suggestion:
Create another account and do the cleaning up there. Once you have all your data files backed up or transferred delete that account and see what happens.

Some virus are attached to only that user account.
Great idea, thanks.

Created account with admin access. Rebooted, selected that account, took forever to create background, locked up. Rebooted into SafeMode with new account, ran Avast. Ran okay for about two minutes and then got stuck on file 3306 which happens to be \Avast\AvastBCL-Sfx.exe and it's been at 4% for about 15 minutes.

I'm going to reboot again into SafeMode into the new account and then try to schedule the boot-scan, but I don't have much hope.


Nope, booted into Windows.

Suggestion:

I have trusted and successfully used only MS MRT and MSE to keep both a desktop and laptop (XP and 7, respectively) clean and running for years. And this did not say I never got nasty sh!t on either computer. Both got hit bad many times. It is the nature of what happens when you visit questionable websites. But the point is, those two tools have cleaned up everything. Well, I guess not everything. Once I did have to resort to a system restore. That was the real bad one which stopped both of those utilities from running.

Reply:
Tried MRT while in SafeMode w/Networking. Stopped at 30 seconds with Bluetooth Suite\AthBtTray.exe and locked up for five minutes.

Rebooted and tried it while in SafeMode without networking. Stopped at the exact same point.

grr

cont:
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2013   #3
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

suggestion:
go to bleepingcomputer.com and download combofix.com. Works like a dream

reply:
Wow. This seemed to be the key. I ran it, looked at the log quite a bit but didn't see anything odd.

Computer booted as normal. Things were working as usual. Pulled up Avast and scheduled a boot-scan, rebooted...

Stuck at 0%.

Collection of posts:

Quote: Anti-rootkit utility TDSSKiller

Anti-rootkit utility TDSSKiller no idea where the download link is on this page

Found the dl link, ran it and it found nothing

Quote: You may want to use another computer to download a Linux operating system, Easy Peasy, Damn Small Linux, or Puppy Linux and put that OS on a flash drive. Boot from the flash drive, use the Linux OS, download all your vital documents, then reformat your drive and start over.

It's not recognizing my thumb drive.

Quote: Hitman Pro is the best at root kits.

Also found nothing

Quote: Could be a hard disk corruption problem. Try running a disk check if possible and make sure to check for bad sectors. It should schedule a disk check on next reboot.
I'm beginning to think that it's not a virus or malware and it's something to do with the HD. I tried to do what you suggested and it just booted to Windows again. For some reason the computer isn't letting me do any scheduling (virus-checker or this).

Thank you all for your suggestions and please keep them coming!!!

So, I have a cord to turn a HD into an external drive. If I pull the HD out of my laptop and attach it to another, I can do anything to it like check it for bad sectors and the like, correct? And if it happens to be a virus or malware, there's no risk of getting my working laptop infected if I don't run any programs from the infected disc, correct?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

18 May 2013   #4
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Suggestion:
This is my last shot, short of reformatting the hard-drive, you mention in the original email having run Super 3 days ago and not having any problems. So, do a system restore (just google how to do it for your flavor of windoze) to a save-point before that time (or right after it if you think it is close enough).

Now, even if the restore works and it looks fine, do nothing other than run every virus checking utility you own. And do the full super duper scans. System restore will restore only systems files and hence get the corruption out of them. If you truly have a virus, it will be in many other places, so do not play until everything is scanned and cleaned. That means no internet, no nothing on that computer.

Reply:
I didn't have System Restore enabled, apparently. And thus far, every possible scan stops.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2013   #5
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

So here I am.

I have the HD pulled and connected to another computer. I've run Avast and DiskCheck on it and they both come up clear. I have full access to everything on the HD so it doesn't appear that the HD is the problem.

Thoughts and suggestions are more than welcomed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2013   #6
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Hmm... since you scanned this with a lot of stuff I'd say it could just be that something critical got corrupted.
I'd reattach that hdd to its machine and follow this tutorial.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 May 2013   #7
essenbe

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint
 
 

In your first post you stated fixing the problem was going into bios and resetting defaults, every 2 weeks or so. If you didn't change anything in bios, that indicates a problem with bios or the CMOS battery. If bios is not remembering the correct settings, the problem most likely starts there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 May 2013   #8
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by bobafetthotmail View Post
Hmm... since you scanned this with a lot of stuff I'd say it could just be that something critical got corrupted.
I'd reattach that hdd to its machine and follow this tutorial.
Thank you for your speedy response and sorry for mine being slow. I have short periods of time I can work on this because of work and then having to share my wife's laptop to be able to access this. I followed the tutorial. When I ran the SFC, I got the blinking cursor while it took its time, then after about 15 minutes I got a "the scan cannot be run at this time" message. That's not the exact wording but I can run it again if that's important. I then became resourceful and rebooted into SafeMode with Command Prompt and tried running it from there instead of on boot. Exact same result. Oh, when I had the HD out and connected to this computer, I realized it had a "Recovery Partition." I looked at the files there but had no idea what to do with them. I'm assuming it's a good thing that I have that, so does that help me at this point?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 May 2013   #9
MrGromit

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by essenbe View Post
In your first post you stated fixing the problem was going into bios and resetting defaults, every 2 weeks or so. If you didn't change anything in bios, that indicates a problem with bios or the CMOS battery. If bios is not remembering the correct settings, the problem most likely starts there.
Thank you, wise one (in reference to your awesome OB1 theme). So...what do I do? Assuming the battery is rechargeable, that's not likely the problem since the laptop is almost always plugged in, but I'm more than happy to dig at it. Thoughts and suggestions?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 May 2013   #10
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Quote:
Thank you for your speedy response and sorry for mine being slow.
No problem. Once someone posts in a thread, the site sends a notification for every new post, so whenever you feel like posting again anyone that posted here gets notified semi-instantly.

It's pretty weird. Then your best bet to save the beast other than nuking and reinstalling would be a repair install. Follow this tutorial. Be warned that something will be reset (as indicated in the tutorial, don't go pressing buttons light-headed), and even this isn't guaranteed to fix. Better if you look at the potential CMOS issue first, read below.

Quote:
I realized it had a "Recovery Partition."
I'm pretty sure that that partition is used to bring it back to factory conditions. That is, you lose all your stuff and it gets filled of useless bloatware from Dell. It saves them the cost of making a bunch of recovery DVDs. You should be able to trigger it by pressing some combination of keys during boot, look at the text on screen during boot, it should tell you what to press. If not, go in BIOS options and disable "quick boot".

Although the general consensus on this board is to kill it with fire ahem , delete it and reclaim its space once the warranty expires and use a Win7 installation DVD/USB drive for troubleshooting/reinstalling which is better in any respect.

Quote:
Assuming the battery is rechargeable, that's not likely the problem since the laptop is almost always plugged in, but I'm more than happy to dig at it. Thoughts and suggestions?
As for the CMOS battery, it isn't rechargeable (it is used only to run the BIOS/system clock and keep settings remebered, it is theoretically supposed to outlast the service life of the device, sometimes it's not the case). And it is soldered to the board, so a would-be replacer needs also some soldering skills and a service/disassembly manual. Nothing horribly complex to do for a tech, but...

Anyway, to be sure it's that the culprit, go in the BIOS, change a secondary setting (say disable the USB Legacy mode or enable network booting), then power off and remove the laptop battery and power adapter, then press the power button for a few seconds, it's also better to wait for a day or so.
Then boot up again, go into BIOS and see if the setting is still like you set it. If it's like you left it the battery is ok, if it's not, the battery is dead.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Newish Dell Inspiron won't fully reboot




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