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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My friend brought me a Dell Dimension C521 desktop to look at. She has 4 boys who've been all over the web and I believe it's caught a virus. She was using it a few days ago, but when I tried it, it tries to log on to Windows (I assume) but doesn't get past the wallpaper (no icons). The little hourglass turns on & off repeatedly (about 1 minute on, then 1 minute off, then another minute on, and so on...) but never fully logs on.
My plan to place her HD in my pc failed me 'cus it has different pin/cable structure (?).
Is there anything I can try to save it from reformatting the HD? I can't even get it far enough to chk the specs for you!
Pls help?
Thx~Rosa
 

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Hi Rosa... Do you get just the wallpaper? is the taskbar at the bottom (where the Start button is) of the window present?

If not do you know how to reboot into Safe mode/ post back.

Raybro
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, Ray, just the wallpaper... no icons, no taskbar, no start menu or button.
I tried looking for Safe mode but couldn't find any options, except for "press F2 for setup" and when I did, it just shows the settings but I never found any other options even when I pressed other F-keys continuosly (?).
Thx!!
Rosa~
 

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You should be able to get into Safe Mode by tapping the F8 key during startup before the windows logo screen comes up. If, during startup you see a blue line across the top of the screen with DELL printed on it, that is the time to do it. Otherwise, just start tapping the F8 key from the time you hit the power on button.

If successful, you will get a black screen with boot options on it. Using the arrow keys, highlight the Safe Mode option and hit "Enter"

Raybro
 

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Or at that same screen you could Try Last known good configuration.. Its a long shot but cant hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok, here we go...
RESULTS:
F8 apparently does nothing.
F2 is for Setup
F12 is for Boot Menu

Unfortunately, F12 ultimately brings up a black screen w/the following:
Diskette drive 0 seek failure
Press F1 to continue
Press F2 to enter Setup

Now, at setup, this is what's happening...
Under SYSTEM is Boot Sequence, & under BOOT SEQUENCE the following:

DRIVES:
*Diskette Drive
The integrated floppy drive is enabled.
*Drive 0
SATA-0 Drive ID = WDC WD800JD-75MSA3
"On" (which = A device attached to the interface is usable)
*Drive 1
SATA-1 Drive ID = TSSTcorp CD-RW/DVD-ROM TS-H493A

SMART REPORTING:
*This field controls whether hard drive errors for integrated drives are reported during system startup. This technology is part of the SMART (Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) specification.
Off = Errors are not reported
On = Errors are reported
The factory default setting is Off.
(Note: I tried changing this but noticed no changes)

MAINTENANCE:
*Load Defaults: This option allows you to reset every option back to the way it was when the system left the factory.
Cancel = Do not restore factory defaults
Continue = Restore factory defaults
(Note: I tried restoring the defaults but noticed no changes)

POST BEHAVIOR:
*Fast Boot: This field speeds up the boot process by bypassing some compatibility steps.
Off = Do not skip any steps in the boot process
On = Boot quickly
The factory default is On.
(Note: I tried changing this but noticed no changes)

POST HOTKEYS:
*Display both messages (F1=Setup, F12=Boot Menu)

Whew!! That's what I have right now... and again, hitting F12 only gives me a black screen w/the following:
"Diskette drive 0 seek failure"
Any ideas???
Thx, Rosa~
(PS: Shouldn't I just reformat??)
 

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I found the service manual for the C521 on the Dell site. You can look at it/download it here. Don't think it's going to be much help to you because their primary instruction for Troubleshooting is to use F12 key at startup to access the Dell diagnostics partition. I believe you already said that doesn't seem to work.

You may, in fact, be stuck with reformatting and a clean install of the OS. You do have an optical drive (CD/DVD) in the boot list. You should move that drive so it is before the hard drive in boot priority. Right now it appears after.

Raybro
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Guess what? I miraculously cracked the code to the Safe Mode (and all the others). For future reference, it is F1 for Startup, then F8.
Ok, now... I already tried Last Known Good Configuration, but it gives me the same "no taskbar, no start menu, no icon problem. I do know for a fact that it is infected w/a virus and indeed much advanced!!
How do I go about reformatting? I'll chk to see if it's in the downloadable manual you sent me in the meantime.
Thx!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Once again you were right on the money, Raybro! It "was" in the online manual... Dell has a very nice feature which restores your Windows XP w/out a disc nor product key, and it only takes less than 10 minutes :)
Now it looks fairly normal, but I'm trying to get my Comcast Internet to work on it so I can install an antivirus program for her. Then my only concern will be how much to charge for this (she insists on paying for the work & time I put into it).
Thx so much for all your help, seriously.
"You are the man"
 

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Once again you were right on the money, Raybro! It "was" in the online manual... Dell has a very nice feature which restores your Windows XP w/out a disc nor product key, and it only takes less than 10 minutes :)
Now it looks fairly normal, but I'm trying to get my Comcast Internet to work on it so I can install an antivirus program for her. Then my only concern will be how much to charge for this (she insists on paying for the work & time I put into it).
Thx so much for all your help, seriously.
"You are the man"
Thanks for the appreciation, Rosa. We are all here to do what we can for others. It hasn't been all that long when I, too, was completely lost and gained a lot of insight and knowledge on TSG forum. Great place to learn. All you gotta do is want to learn and the folks here will be more than happy to help you do that.

Couple of things I'd like to make you aware of. You mentioned the Product Key. If you do not have the Windows Product Key written down, I suggest that is something you should do. The Product key is recorded in the Registry. The simplest way to get it is to download a little utility called Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder. Its a zip file. After download, ust double click it, extract the files, click the Keyfinder.exe file, then click "Run".

Here is the reason you may have need of it. If, for whatever reason, you have to install windows from the CD. You will need the Product Key if you do that.

Next subject is related. Best insurance one can get against just about any type of catastrophic failure, virus, spyware, worm, etc.,etc, is a great program called Acronis True Image (ATI) backup program. You can find deals for older version online if you look around. Amazon has some good ones available. The best way to use ATI is to have a second HDD (either internal slave drive or USB external) to store the backup images. They are used to completely restore the entire content of the internal drive to a new hard drive should the current drive fail. The restored drive will be identical in all respects as the original drive was when the image was created. I would not be without ATI.

I'll be gone for part of the rest of the day. Check back later.

Raybro
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thx, Raybro...
Well, I made the mistake of "not" chkg & writing the product key before trying to reinstall XP. Instead, the same friend brought another pc for me to look at which ended up having no hard drive installed (this is the 2nd time), but inside there was a PCI fax/modem thingie w/its install CD, and a burned copy of Windows XP Pro w/SP1. I thought it would come in handy for the HD's I have and tried it on one, but didn't get very far!

I booted from the CD, and chose "Repair Windows XP" versus a complete install. Everything went fine and it restarted... up until the "product key" status. The key code written on the CD came up as "invalid". (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Now I have a hard drive that automatically reverts to the EXACT spot where I left off EVERY time, which is the product key entry window.
What are my options at this point?
(Help!)
~Rosa~
 
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