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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

So my Sony VAIO with Windows Vista finally crashed-- I suspect I may have gotten a virus. I get the infamous "blue screen of death" no matter what I do. The hardware is fine according to the onboard diagnostics . . . which work just fine. In fact Sony's built-in recovery utilities have allowed me to save virtually everything off of the computer and transfer it all to an external hard drive.

So my question is, where do I go from here?

The external hard drive now shows lots of files that Windows normally keeps hidden and which I'm pretty sure I don't need or want. Common sense would tell me to just save my personal data (photos, videos, documents, music, etc.), which is the really precious content, and delete everything else. Am I right there? Anything else I should be saving?

Also, I am worried that if I did get a virus, I might infect my new computer by transferring a file recovered by the VAIO utility to my new machine. Is this a vaild worry? Can a virus attach itself to a jpeg or Word document or whatever and travel to other computers?

Obviously, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and I appreciate any guidance more knowledgeable Jemsiters might be able to give me.

Peace

Mike
 

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You could have a corrupted windows state so the onboard diagnostic boot is to a different partition. The virus (if it is one) can easily be cleaned from a non-infected PC.

You already saved the data files to an external drive? If you can scan the external drive but it's not 100% required. If in doubt keep everything and delete later after restoring

When you restore or reinstall windows immediately install Microsoft Security Essentials this and do a FULL SCAN:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials

Others will recommend different scanners but this one is a virtual lock to fix/clean/protect... glen
 

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Well done so far, an external drive is a very good idea,
many of the checks / reinstalls you should do delete data so make a copy of everything first just in case.

I hate vista , most people do.
I would recommend installing win 7 then just copying back what you need.

hard to say what to do next without more info, the standard thing is to reinstall but if you have a corrupt disk that isnt going to help. I would say run diags on the hard disk but you have to be careful, some diags can do more harm than necessary.

If you can get Win 7 I would recomment a reformat and reinstall, but only if you are sure you have all data on the external drive, that includes email, software licences, synced mobile phone data as well as the obvious desktop , my docs etc.

Hav a long think about what data is important , and what programs, passwords and permissions you need to get it.
 

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its important to realise there is a big difference with a repair and reinstall,

if a repair works its still the same computer with the same name, address, accounts, users etc

once you do a reinstall its a new computer, even if you give it the same accounts with the same names they will look different to computers,

Its no good having a database or pst file if you dont have the permissions to access it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am very grateful to both of you for taking the time to respond. Some of what you say had occurred to me but I definitely learned some things.
Really great advice.

I downloaded MS Security Essentials and scanned the recovered files on the external HD. The software detected and removed several items of malware, including a trojan horse.

So now I have:
1) an old laptop that will not boot beyond the recovery/diagnostic software
2) an external drive with 90% of my stuff from the old computer (everything sccanned/cleaned), and
3) a new laptop protected by the MS security software.

So next I think the only option is what LostInRockFormations calls reinstalling and what the VAIO software calls "recovering" the C-drive-- restoring it to its original factory state-- because restoring it to previous (more recent) states has not worked.

My last question before I proceed with that is that Glen wrote, "The virus (if it is one) can easily be cleaned from a non-infected PC." And if I wanted to do that, I would have to physically remove the HD from the infected computer and attach it to the clean one, right?

Thanks again

Mike
 

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You're welcome. So far so good :)

The factory restore will wipe the drive and the virus/malware.

The old laptop will probably need a full "recovery" which is restore to factory state as you said. If you have boot discs you can try a "repair" which reinstalls the OS but keeping data intact. It works maybe 20% of the tim. I personally would do the factory restore, then install Vista SP2, then 100+ updates then reinstall apps and copy back data... glen
 

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I would be tempted to do a manual format of the disk, as opposed to using the recovery/restore cd. A manual format will delete any partitions, scan the physical drive for any bad sectors, and format the drive in it's entirety. Vista could then be re-installed using the recovery cd. For all it's flaws, Vista lasted you this long........I can't see any reason why it wouldn't continue to do so after a clean install.
 

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fwiw recovery does a total wipe replacing all sectors and repartition drives as per factory. Low level format is what RGTF seems to be talking about but the disc check can be run later regardless... glen
 

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So now I have:
1) an old laptop that will not boot beyond the recovery/diagnostic software

Mike
hmmm, bit worrying. if repair doesnt work from my experience this is much more likley to be a corrupt disk than virus damage. By all means have a go at reinstalling but dont be surprised if it doesnt work. If the laptop is more than 3 years old it would need a new hard disk before I would trust it.

My last question before I proceed with that is that Glen wrote, "The virus (if it is one) can easily be cleaned from a non-infected PC." And if I wanted to do that, I would have to physically remove the HD from the infected computer and attach it to the clean one, right?

Thanks again

Mike
wrong, I think he meant what you have already done, attach the external drive to a clean PC and scan it.
If you are going to do a restore to factory settings that will wipe the disk and the virus.
 

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just because you found a virus doesnt mean that was what caused the crash,
it could have been there quietly for months or years.

The crash could have been provoked by a software update , temp disk glitch or corruption of the hard disk. If you can get it back I would still regard it as unreliable at least for a couple of months.
 

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I just re-read Mikes first post and it seems to me that his problem could very likely be RAM. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't BSOD's typically caused by bad RAM (or extreme OC'ing in my case)
 

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blue-screen of death is often hardware or corrupted driver/system. i generally rule out RAM if the boot partition loads (bad ram often gives hw error @ the bios check long before windows logo).

i'd buy a new 2.5" drive myself but that requires more skill & know-how.. glen
 

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I just re-read Mikes first post and it seems to me that his problem could very likely be RAM. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't BSOD's typically caused by bad RAM (or extreme OC'ing in my case)
possible, if the RAM has jogged loose it might cause intermittent crashes,
or crashes when the system heats up.

probably worth taking the RAM out and putting it back carefully,
touch a radiator or pipe first to ground any static.
 

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blue-screen of death is often hardware or corrupted driver/system. i generally rule out RAM if the boot partition loads (bad ram often gives hw error @ the bios check long before windows logo).

i'd buy a new 2.5" drive myself but that requires more skill & know-how.. glen
I agree with you about the new drive...they're certainly cheap enough now and not really difficult at all to install on laptops. I am assuming the VIO's have a similar mount to most other laptops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, the recovery/reformat of the c-drive appears to have worked. The worst part of the process was watching as the computer re-loaded all the "free trial" BS bloatware that I didn't want in the first place-- and there was nothing I could do to stop it. But now it's back to its original factory state and working as well as it can be expected to. It's five years old, the battery is completely shot, . . . it's simply outdated. I will probably sell it and count my blessings-- this could have turned out far worse. I only experienced a few weeks of inconvenience and I was forced to buy a new machine (a Samsung 3-series, love it, small, powerful).

Those of you who mention hardware problems: I have no idea. I only know that the diagnostics report no problems as a result of a hardware scan.

Most important lesson from this whole episode is to back up your precious data so you don't lose it all in a crash (or theft, or whatever). An external drive is a small price to pay compared to the irreplaceable files you want to save.

Thanks again to everyone.

Peace

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Bumping the thread to ask a new question: after a system restore/reinstall, can I sell the computer without worrying about any privacy concerns?

I realize the "delete" button doesn't totally erase files . . . does the system restore make it so that no one can retrieve any personal information from the hard drive?

Thanks

Mike

P. S. If anyone wants a cheap SONY Vaio . . . heh heh heh . . . :)

EDIT: I mean I reformatted the hard drive. Not the option that restores the system to an earlier point in time, but the option that takes it all the way back to the original factory state. Thanks Mike
 

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blue-screen of death is often hardware or corrupted driver/system. i generally rule out RAM if the boot partition loads (bad ram often gives hw error @ the bios check long before windows logo).

i'd buy a new 2.5" drive myself but that requires more skill & know-how.. glen
correct. if you are on a budget, i would wipe the drive, reinstall windows fresh. not only will you rid the problem, you will have a faster machine since the OS is fresh, clean registry, etc. I'm thinking this was not a virus, but, some driver issues or an update that didn't play nice with something else. When I was running pc's, I would keep data on different hard drives and only the OS on drive C. Once a year I would just wipe C just to do it and start fresh, whether it needed it or not. Good luck and nice going so far!

On a side note I'm very good at removing many virus', however, some take hours! And once removed, there are dead files which lay dormant, so you never really remove everything...even when you uninstall a program, you never really REMOVE all of it...which is another reason I used to do what I did....
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Shredmaster, thanks for the response. I learned a lot through this process and you guys here on jemsite really have helped.

I did some research and realized how foolish it would be to let my hard drive fall into the wrong hands. Sold it on CL for $85 without the drive. I could've gotten more for it on ebay but didn't want the hassle.

Thanks again. Peace

Mike
 

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Bumping the thread to ask a new question: after a system restore/reinstall, can I sell the computer without worrying about any privacy concerns?

I realize the "delete" button doesn't totally erase files . . . does the system restore make it so that no one can retrieve any personal information from the hard drive?

Thanks

Mike

P. S. If anyone wants a cheap SONY Vaio . . . heh heh heh . . . :)

EDIT: I mean I reformatted the hard drive. Not the option that restores the system to an earlier point in time, but the option that takes it all the way back to the original factory state. Thanks Mike
I'm not a puter tech but I'm going to guess here.
If you formatted it you deleted everything but I heard/read techs can recover data from formatted drives and even from broken ones so if you have private data that you don't want anyone seeing, just put a new driver and sell your computer with it.
 
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