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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a world of computer hurt over here. Earlier this afternoon I was using the Internet on my Dell PC (which is Windows XP) when I suddenly started getting tons of spam pop-ups. I would X out of them and keep going, but soon Firefox completely crashed and I was getting warnings of low disk space - impossible because I just cleared off several GBs - and other bizarre error messages. I also lost my wallpaper image and taskbar. My gut instinct said "virus", but before I could get back on-line the computer restarted on its own - but when it did, it went through the initial Dell logo boot-up and then settled into a completely black screen. I can Control-Alt-Delete to start the process all over again, and the green power lights are on, but nothing I do gets me past the black screen. I also am not able to boot up in Safe Mode.

After some research via laptop I have a feeling the PC may have the VUNDO.B virus - only thing is, I have no way to initiate a virus scan since I can't actually boot up.

After looking for the discs that came with the Dell, I found a slip of paper that says "your new computer does not require an operating system CD or drivers CD" - so I have no boot disk to work off of. I tried downloading one and creating a CD, but the PC won't respond to that, either.

I am really stuck between a rock and a hard place here. Naturally, I have tons of vital files that never got backed up, and at the very least I would like to get in to copy them to an external in case this problem isn't fixable. I could do that if I could at least get into Safe Mode, to say nothing of running the anti-virus program I downloaded from HouseCall so I can try getting rid of the virus if there is one.

Can anyone offer some ideas as to how to get past this "black screen of death"? I am what I would call a moderate user and can understand computers on that level, but once we get into more complicated computer info and hardware issues my brain goes into a black screen of its own.

Grateful for any and all suggestions,
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your quick reply.

I hit F8 while it tries to boot, select Safe Mode, press enter...and then nothing. It just goes right back to the black screen.

Suggestions?
 

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It is very odd that you're not even able to boot into Safe Mode.

From my knowledge, the next step would be to install a fresh copy of the OS. Unfortunately, this would erase all data on the harddrive.

Since you seemed adamant that you didn't want to do this, I would suggest waiting for someone with a bit more knowledge to come by with another suggestion (if it exists).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't mind reinstalling the OS if I can at least take the hard drive to a place where I can get all my important files off of it first - which is doable tomorrow. But, since Dell didn't provide me with OS discs, I have nothing to install anyway, so it seems this little Catch-22 continues.

However, I appreciate your willingness to help me out, and even if we couldn't fix the problem at least I don't feel so isolated about it now. :) Interesting coincidence - I'm living in Canada now, but spent over 5 years in Port St. Lucie and surrounding areas back in the late '80s. Graduated from Fort Pierce Central! Small world, isn't it?
 

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Restart again and tap Function 8 and you should see the Advanced Boot menu which starts with Safe Mode but also includes "Disable automatic restart on system failure". Select that one and the system will stall at a blue screen showing an error message and it will be useful to see that message. We're looking for an alpha-numeric 0x0000?? and ANY_WORDS_JOINED_UP by underscores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello, Saga Lout...I have followed your instructions and tried "Disable automatic restart" - unfortunately instead of giving me the blue screen it simply goes back to a blank black screen. So there are no messages to be had.

I'm at least able to relax a little in that I downloaded Ubuntu on this laptop and created a disc, which allowed me to get into my PC and transfer thousands upon thousands of files onto external media. So at least I'm not feeling like all is lost now! It just wouldn't let me use the virus scan program I attempted, but that's a mystery for tomorrow. It's past 5AM my time and I need a system shut down of my own! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's an update: One on-line suggestion said to download the Linux-based Avira AntiVir Rescue System, which I did and was able to use on my broken-down PC. It detected and deleted no less than *26* viruses. But I still can't boot up, either normally or in Safe Mode. I thought getting rid of the viruses would at least get me into Safe Mode. I'm running out of ideas. Any takers?
 

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But, since Dell didn't provide me with OS discs, I have nothing to install anyway, so it seems this little Catch-22 continues.
With many Dells, you press or tap repeatedly the F10 or possibly the F11key immediately following POST and you will get the repair/reinstall screen.

edit: Now that I think about it, the access key may be ctrl+F11 or ctrl+F10. Try them all. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It's Ctrl+F11. As a result of trying them all! :)

Thank you for that, surferdude2 - I am currently scanning for viruses again, and then will attempt other recovery efforts.

In the meantime, I thought I would add that I just tried Recovery Console (which I was able to download and burn to CD from the laptop), specifically Fixboot and Bootcfg. Interestingly, it told me I have two installations of XP - one on the usual C and one on something called G:\minint. Trying to get into C just jumped me back to the black screen. But trying G:\minint got me this:

"Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: G:\minint\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM. You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM. Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair."

Of course, as I said before, thanks to Dell I don't have an original Setup CD-ROM, so in that sense I'm right back where I started. Does that error message ring any bells for anyone? Is it worth it to try and shake some sort of original disc or download out of Dell?

Will continue on Norton Ghost and see what that results in. The battle rages on! :)
 

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I'm living in Canada now, but spent over 5 years in Port St. Lucie and surrounding areas back in the late '80s. Graduated from Fort Pierce Central! Small world, isn't it?
Crazy coincidence! :D

Quite a big move though, from here to Canada. :D

-------------------------------------

Anyway, glad to see that you're getting help with the problem. I'll chime in if I see an opportunity for me to do so. :)
 

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Just a stab in the dark but if you have any USB devices plugged in, unplug them and try booting without. Sometimes a USB drive can cause the BIOS to flub up, especially on systems that have a BIOS that supports booting from the USB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Heh heh, The Shooter93 - if you think that was a big move, I first left PSL for Los Angeles and lived there 16 years before coming to The Great White North. Let's just say big moves are part of my history! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Surferdude2, I checked and the only remaining thing I had plugged into USB besides my keyboard was my printer. I've just unplugged it, and when I'm done fooling around with Norton Ghost I will try rebooting and see what happens. Thanks for the tip! :)
 

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You don't report actually going anywhere to get your data off. If you haven't done so, I'll suggest that while you're in the mood for a linux based virus scanner you might want to use Linux proper to recover your files. The best guide I've seen for this is found here.

Normally the policy here is to get you transferred to the malware removal forum where they are trained to handle recovery from an infection. If you would like to do this Click the "Report" button in the bottom right of any response and request the move. None of use are authorised to help there, so it would be farewell into good hands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hello, Ent - I actually was able to recover my files by using the Live CD of Ubuntu, to my ever eternal relief. I found myself very intrigued by Ubuntu and may be exploring that once this is all settled, that is if this Wine truly will let me have access to my Windows programs, but that's a whole 'nother thread. ;)

Speaking of which, I will transfer to the malware removal forum if that is the policy. This is of course going on the assumption that my problem is more the viruses than the fact that I can't boot up. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to have feelers in both forums, eh? :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
OK, that was useless. While Norton Ghost seemed to verify that there were no more viruses (at least the ones it's capable of detecting), it was only able to partially analyze the hard drive, and then when I tried to recover the computer to a specific point, it said there weren't any points to recover to. This after having this computer for 4 years? I suppose, since I didn't actually know I *had* Norton Ghost until tonight, I didn't actually use it before, which is why there are no previous points. Somewhere there must be an answer to this thing without going in these maddening circles...

Of course, I *could* just wipe the hard drive and start over. Grr.
 
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