Formatting without the OS disc

By Zirotek ยท 15 replies
Jan 27, 2011
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  1. Hey all,

    Ive got a laptop that needs formatting but it came with a pre-installed version of windows7. The OS has a virus so i cant make a backup to disc now and was wondering if theres any way i could recover the OS after formatting the laptop through the command prompt.

    Suggestions ?
  2. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    Is your Windows 7 totally unuseable? You mention about the command line, but can you boot your pc and get into 'safe mode' ? If you can you may be able to clear the virus problem from there.
    Try , power on, then STRAIGHT AWAY,tap the 'F8' key quickly, several times a second, till you see the black screen with white text. Look down the options, using cursor keys, go down the list and choose 'Use last known good configuration' (or similar). Press enter.
    If your pc boots up in a working state, then use your anti-vius to do a FULL SCAN of your pc. If you have 'Spybot search and destroy', use that, it might take an hour or so, but may well sort out the virus you have on there.
    If you are ok with Safe mode, it's better to use your anti virus scanner from there, but the screen will have larger graphics than usual, that's ok. It will go back to normal when you boot the pc again.

    *Also it's usual for a pre-installed OS to have a second copy of the OS on a separate partition, it will take the pc back to day 1, but you will lose all your work if you don't copy it off onto an external HD. If you can get into windows via 'Safe mode' and copy what you value off the pc, then find the 'Factory reset/settings' key, (could be boot then F12, but correct info will be available), then it may get your pc working again as it was.
  3. winediva

    winediva TS Rookie

    clean your virus!

    I support mike1959 try to go to safe mode and delete the virus from there, I don't think there's a way to recover the OS through command line mmm I think you need the disk, that's the bad thing with preinstalling OS, but be positive what kind of virus you have?
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    In addition, it is always a good idea to download a bootable OS to examine your drive, and certainly to safely offload your most vital data onto some media like a memory stick.

    A bootable OS on a CD cannot possibly become infected (it's read-only right?) and if you do not run any win32 program under it either, it is utterly safe to dig around on your HDD. You only need to be a little cautious not to save (and later restore) something that might already be infected,

    What bootable OS ? numerous linux versions work fine from a CD or DVD or USB boot (e.g. Ubuntu, suse desktop). For a Windows PC if you have the necessary skill and a Windows install CD or DVD handy you will find UBCD4WIN the most incredibly useful CD you could ever have by you for diagnostics and anti-virus work. You obviously must build it on a uninfected PC. Just check this page - jaw-dropping !
  5. Zirotek

    Zirotek TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    thanks for your help guys, i'm starting to get further to solving the problem....
    Here are some pictures I took of my laptop (connected via vga to monitor cause the laptop screen wont display)

    Picture 1 - after pressing f8 the white text comes up in colours, in the picture some charaters are purple but that changes with every boot (eg sometimes they may be green)

    Picture 2 - I didnt know how to describe these lines that run in groups of three vertically down the monitor but theyre always there aswell

    Picture 3 - I got into windows using safe mode and want to reinstall windows but it says I need the disc , i have tried using system restore a few times to load a previous backup points (not the same one, i tried with a few) anyways i have the CD key for the windows 7 disc ... is that enough or do i actually need the full disc?

    **** I'd like to point out i think its a bit more than just something like the monitor cable not being plugged in correctly.... I saw before as I attempted a system restore that when the windows bar was filling up at the bottom of the screen it had "1"s strung through it kinda like this :
    dunno if that means anything but thats whats making me think that its not just as simple as a loose cable or faulty monitor or something else like a graphics card issue ****

    ALSO - I use avast antivirus and when im in safe mode i cant enable it ... i dont know if thats to do with being in safe mode or not but it wont let me enable avast no matter how i try... (by right clicking it on the task bar and going "enable" or by opening the actual application and trying to enable it from there) so i cant do a system scan with my antivirus either.
  6. Zirotek

    Zirotek TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    ok so ...
    wasnt able to scan the system in safe mode , but i restarted my laptop after putting it into safe mode and it worked fine... still couldnt use the anti virus so i uninstalled it, downloaded it again and installed windows updates (which were mainly anti-malware patches for windows defender) and everything seemed to be fine... the screen on my laptop wasnt working (was blue with a black line through the middle) but the picture was coming through on the monitor (connected via VGA) I was able to restart the laptop a few times as requested by windows after installing the updates.
    After restarting I opened avast and started a thorough system scan. I came back after about an hour or so and the monitor had gone into standby mode (which isnt set on the monitor) I forced restart by holding down the power button after trying to wake up the computer by moving the mouse around and pressing the spacebar and also tried ctrl+alt+del but neither worked.
    Now the laptop has those lines going back through the screen when i start it up and it only gets up to the loading windows screen and after that the screen is on but just goes black and stays that way .... ????

    I cant use f12 now on startup and dont know why seeing as it worked before but im thinking it might be because windows automatically detects a problem and sends me to the screen asking if i want it to scan the system to find the problem. Again, restoring a previous system image (as i made one after installing avast) doesnt work.

    I had it working and everything seemed fine after just being in safe mode... windows defender did a scan of System32 and didnt find any problems and avast was going fine through the system before the monitor turned off and now im back to square one....ummm help ?
  7. g3rsiu

    g3rsiu TS Rookie Posts: 40

    regarding pictures

    the pictures show a clasic case of VGA adapter problems (more specific VGA ram but not always)

    try running windows memory diagnostic tool at boot - if the VGA adapter is chipset embedded (UMA; integrated eg. INTEL ) and uses system RAM as VGA RAM - there is a slim chance it is just a ram failure tho a good bet is faulty hardware in the vga area - if your laptop has 2 ram memory modules you can try to remove one and swap them around and see if anything changes.

    one way to bypass this (in win 7) can be to go to device manager and disable the VGA adapter - this forces windows to load a standard adapter driver but no hardware acceleration will be available and you might end up with a stable but low performing video card

    i suggest you focus on fixing this hardware aspect before continuing with the virus problem - your problems might be only hardware related.
  8. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    yes, video chip failure almost certain. That it affects the screen at boot time is particulaly nasty.

    It could be the screen rather than the video chip - and you can eliminate it being the screen by plugging a standard monitor into the vga adapter at the rear (if you have one) to test.

    Of course, if still under warranty, it's an RTM case either way.

    Like I said already, a bootable linux will utterly clarify the problem, since it uses it's own (linux) video drivers. If the screen still looks wrong, well, QED
  9. g3rsiu

    g3rsiu TS Rookie Posts: 40

    no chance it's a lcd failure - shouldn't have crashed if it was and lcds don't display numbers instead of graphic elements or discoloration /deformation of random letters :)

    btw - warranty claim should always be your first try imho - your only wasting your time if it is in warranty period.
  10. Zirotek

    Zirotek TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    the only way i can get some kind of picture is by running my computer in safe mode
    i started my computer again in safe mode from boot and ran the windows memory diagnostic test. It restarted my computer and performed 2 tests. When it got to 100% completion it said under the status bar that it hadnt detected any problems.

    It said it would post the results again after windows starts up but, of course, after it was done it loaded win 7 straight away but not in safe mode so the monitor just went black after the windows loading screen had finished loading.

    So it didnt detect any problems through there, and i also looked in device manager for the vga adapter under display adapters but all it comes up with is my graphics card. I checked under the other headings but cant see it under them either

    The laptop screen isn't displaying much... it's on but it's just either a blue flickering screen (on and off) with some black lines through it or it might show whats on the monitor as a quick flash at timed intervals (kind of like a quick pulse once every second or so) but most of the times it black with a bunch of grey pinstripe lines taking up the righthand side of the screen from top to bottom

    you guys have been awesome with all your help,

    I'll read up on those diagnostic tool links that gbhall put up and get back to you guys. It's not my laptop so I'll have to have a read, talk to the owner and then get back to you guys in a day or so to let you know how it all went.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the input so far. :)

    EDIT : A good question to ask would be is there anyway that I can get the video chip replaced / upgraded so they can keep their system in tact " as-is " ? Would it be cost effective and not too much of a big job now that we've discovered the root of the problem ? Whats everyones opinions ?
  11. g3rsiu

    g3rsiu TS Rookie Posts: 40

    your graphic card is your display adapter - return to safemode and in device manager do properties on it and you should be able to select disable this device. if this doesnt work then you are most likely going to have to send your laptop for reapairs in or out of warranty

    then just send your laptop in for repairs - its a faulty videocard and you cant fix it - needs replacement (be it integrated or not on your mainboard).
  12. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    From your photo's it does look like a failing graphic chip. Sometimes on a laptop it is the ribbon connector or plug on the end of it, that connects the screen to the motherboard, the ribbon can start to fracture where it folds over.
    The separate issue with Win7, depends on if you made an image of the complete system while it was working. If yes then you can copy it all back onto C: and you will have a working pc, but everything you did after that will be gone.
    Or if you want or have to reinstall the OS, you need the product key, (underneath pc on the MS sticker) plus any Windows 7 DVD that is of the type it was when new. eg 32bit Home premium, or Pro, or Ultimate, it must be the same type.
    You will need to go into the BIOS screen, and change the order of drives, so that the CD/DVD is first in the list. (The 'Boot sequence').
    Then put the DVD into the drive, restart pc, and follow the options. Enter the product key when asked. Enter your time zone, and other preferences.
    When complete, you will need to go to the PC makers site, support, drivers (or updates etc) and let their site scan your pc for all the OEM drivers that Windows does not include. After that it should be 'good to go'.
    You will be asked to go to MS site to 'activate' your OS. It will work, it takes only a couple of seconds.
    You can go back into the BIOS and change the order back to 1)SATA primary, 2)CD/DVD, but it's optional, just remember to not leave a DVD in the drive when you 'Shut down'. Hope that makes sense.
  13. Zirotek

    Zirotek TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    So all of this COULD possibly be just wear and tear on the hardware ?
    Theres no system image so I cant do that.
    I dont think theres anything wrong in relation to virus' I think its just the video card / graphics chip now... i did do a scan of the laptop using both windows defender for Sys32 and avast for a thorough scan (when the laptop was displaying fine for a short while) and neither came up with anything so i dont think I need to reinstall the OS.

    The question is ... i got it to display fine (as i said in a previous post) for a short while. Now its back to only displaying in safe mode with the lines on the screen. I did get to do a virus scan and nothing came up, I did a memory diagnostics test and that was all fine.

    So with malware and memory not being the problems, and the need to reinstall the OS pretty much nullified - what would i be looking for to tell whats wrong if i opened it up. I'm not really knowledgeable when it comes to the hardware side of computers and dont really work with laptops, so would it be easier just to give it to someone who is and let them know that I've more or less isolated the problem to be a failing graphics card or ribbon connector to the motherboard and need them replaced to support connection via VGA to a monitor ?
  14. g3rsiu

    g3rsiu TS Rookie Posts: 40


    1st option - seek warranty claim if possible

    2nd - seek professional help for out of warranty repairs - the compact and delicate nature of laptops does require a bit more care on assemble / disassemble.

    the fault doesn't lie in the display-vga connection - it can cause lines to appear but your case is a clear vga chip problem.

    for clarification, i am a certified technician and i repair laptops for a job :) we replace the faulty modules not repair broken boards in-house so i cant advise you further if u plan to seek a way to repair the faulty vga card or motherboard. and yes you are correct - its mostly wear and tear due to heat and clogged cooling - i see it every day.

    if that doesn't help i cant do more for you :)

    hope you solve your problems.


    edit: have you disabled the vga card in device manager under safemode like i advised ? i currently have a "working" laptop that starts with displaying symptoms like yours but the OS boots up and i can use it to surf the web - no games or HD movies tho
  15. Zirotek

    Zirotek TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 16

    I did try disabling the vga card and yeah it loaded windows then not a problem, only thing is ts displaying at the lowest possible resolution (looks exactly like safe mode). the card i disabled was a NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400.

    But yes with the graphics card disabled i can get into windows without needing to use safe mode. But the resolution is terrible. Wasnt sure if i should raise it up seeing as its running on the standard adapter driver.

    So does this mean that its just about getting a new graphics card ? If so should i stick with the one that was installed on the laptop ( GeForce Go 7400 ) or get a newer one ?

    Thanks :)

    EDIT :

    Just went to check out the resolution settings and it only has the one setting so I can't change it even if i wanted to! :p

    Im pretty sure that my brother installed a game warhammer4000 and was playing that on it when it died... could the game have been asking for too much from the graphics card and caused it to "die" ?
  16. mike1959

    mike1959 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,034   +55

    A graphic card won't be damaged by using it, even at it's maximum speed and resolutions, it's the heat that does the damage. It wouldn't be a problem so much, but it's the heating up, and cooling down, that causes components and connections to fail. In this case, it does seem that your Windows system on C drive is probably ok, but until you get the graphic chip problem fixed, you can't see what you are doing. Of course you could put the hard drive in another pc to see, but it will fail validation, as the components in that pc are all different to the original PC.

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