Major Strange Problems

By Scern
Mar 5, 2008
  1. Ok, I apologize for the length, but I want to provide as much info as I can to best describe my problem and there is a bit of history to it.

    First thing is my system is about 3 years old, but has been running like a champ.

    The problem first arose when I started to see major slowdowns in Windows performance. It would take me forever to do anything.

    I then started to see popups declaring that files were corrupt and that I needed to run chkdsk. My system would sometimes randomly reboot and I was unable to run chkdsk (without error fix) while I was booted up because "Windows or another program has locked this drive...".

    Soo, at this point I suspected it was a virus and/or just hard drive failure. I bought a new drive, installed windows and everything was working fine for a day or so.

    I started to get registry errors on the new install, and chkdsk was successfully running and repairing many errors (on a brand new drive and install!). I started to experience slowdown again, and programs that were freshly installed would be corrupt and unusable after the restarts (I couldn't even uninstall them).

    I had at one point, booted the system with both drives connected, thinking to transfer files. I was unsure whether the potential virus may of been transferred to the new drive.

    So, I decided to delete my partitions and start over again. I did this and successfully reinstalled. However on the second reboot of the system, it could not find files in the Windows/system32/ and wouldn't boot up at all. I tried to repair or reinstall from the windows CD and I get a registry error blue screen that won't even let me enter the CD repair functions to repair XP or repartition the drive.

    I'm stuck, what do I do now? BTW the old hard drive is still bootable.
  2. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Do you run a Firewall?

    Do you use a router or straight connect or modem?

    Do you use antivirus protection?

    Did you load SP2 immediately after the OS install?

    Did you get all the updates immediately after SP2 install?
  3. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes I use the XP firewall

    I connect through a router

    I do use antivirus (AVG)

    On the first build with the new drive, I installed the updates and upgraded to SP2 and installed the rest of the updates. It was shortly after that when I noticed things going awry.
  4. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Do you have any router ports open? You can usually call it up using IE address I think.
  5. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I do have just one port open for a game software I use.
  6. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Well, you obviously either have a hole in the firewall OR when you connected the old drive it migrated a nasty.

    Close that router port.

    Disconnect the 'old' drive'.

    Download KillDisk and follow the instructions to make a boot disk eraser.

    Connect your NEW drive.

    Run KillDisk.

    Then do an OS install.

    If that doesn't get you a clean machine, then you have more serious problems.

    As far as the old drive, if you can get the new one working trouble free, then follow the above procedure for it (remember to disconnect your 'clean' new drive first).
  7. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I will try this.

    Are you thinking I had a hacker?

    On the KillDisk is the free (one-pass) enough?
  8. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter


    So I Killed the disk and amazing, I'm able to reinstall again! I have closed the open port and unplugged my computer from the network.

    My XP CD is SP1, so I downloaded SP2 and SP3 on another computer and burned them to a CD and I will update offline before I hook-up to the network again.

    I will keep you up to date on my progress.

    I would like to think this was a virus for my own sanity sake, but the problems were so random, quick and crippling that it makes me wonder if it was a hacker. My problem just got progressively worse and worse and worse. Can a virus cause this kind of behavior or do I need to start worrying about my personal information?
  9. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok new wrinkle

    I had the same error (missing files in the \windows\system32\config\system) and fatal reboot issue when I tried to install direct X9 from my video card CD. That is a non-recordable CD, so I'm pretty sure that isn't infected with anything.

    Anyone seen this issue before?
  10. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6


    Right after the install of the OS, install the motherboard chipset drivers. Then the SP's and then the updates and then the audio, video and network as required (since you already have them available -otherwise, you would need the network drivers earlier wouldn't you).

    Try this DX9 download after you get verified -

  11. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Got it.

    Yeah I saw that message about the system.ini corruption and that is probably my problem. It happened to me again after another fresh install. I rebooted more often this time between driver updates, but I think I did things out of order.

    1. OS (SP1)
    2. Motherboard drivers
    3. Audio, video, network drivers
    4. Direct X9
    5. SP2
    6. Win Update KB884020

    After that last update, it corrupted the system32\config\ again and I was able to recover it using that link you provided, but a couple other files were funked up to and I just booted up into a black screen.

    I will try updating in your order this time. The three update packages I have are:

    1. SP2 KB835935
    2. SP3 KB936929 (x86?)
    3. Update KB884020 (x86?)

    Not sure what order I should do these in and what the x86 means.
  12. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

  13. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,425   +77

    Whilst your symptoms are highly compatible with an infection, at three years old they could also indicate a failing component, most likely a memory stick or power supply, and I advise you to download and run specific checks for ram.
  14. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Is there a bootable floppy/CD program out there that can test memory?
  15. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

  16. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I reinstalled (again!) and set the updated/installed everything as CCT recommended. That has seemed to work pretty well so far. I used use Microsoft update page to install the remainder of my updates after SP2 and had no issues.

    I haven't installed Direct X9 yet.

    I copied over some files from the old drive (that were on DVD, not direct) and things seem to be OK so far.

    Oh I also used the memtest program to test my RAM and it checked out OK.

    Hopefully this is the last tiime I have to reinstall. I activated XP twice already in the last 3 days! I'm waiting a good week or more to make sure this iteration is stable before I register again! Will they start giving me a hard time after awhile?
  17. Scern

    Scern TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yeah the DVD screwed me, so its definitely got to be a bug. I scanned the disk content and found nothing with both AVG and Norton (latest updates).

    So far this bug has displayed the following properties:

    1. Its able to infect itself onto any media that is used to transfer files from an infected system
    2. It is able to delete system files and corrupt files (fairly common)
    3. It is able to cause reboots (fairly common)
    4. It is able to corrupt the registry so badly that I cannot even reinstall XP with a CD without killing the disk (KillDisk).
    5. It is able to SURVIVE a reformat and reinstall of the OS (prior to killing the disk)
    6. It has remained undetected by AVG and Norton.

    Is this a super bug or does something like this actually exist?
  18. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    1 - "Hopefully this is the last tiime I have to reinstall. I activated XP twice already in the last 3 days! I'm waiting a good week or more to make sure this iteration is stable before I register again! Will they start giving me a hard time after awhile?"

    You may be advised that you have to call them - no biggie - just explain that you had a virus and hardware problem combined and they'll authorize you.

    2 - "Is this a super bug or does something like this actually exist?"

    Combination of a MBR (Master Boot Record) or similar virus.

    If you use DSL you should install a router between the ISP equipment and your comp.

    You should run Windows defender so that changes are flagged before they take effect.

    Always have a firewall in place despite the router.

    etc etc etc

    Hope things stay together.

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