Windows XP - Egg timer purgatory!

February 11, 2011 at 07:36:57
Specs: Windows XP, Intel P3 598MHX/192MB
Hi - I am running Windows XP Professional Build 2600 on an old Dell Dimension XPS T600r with an Intel Pentium III, 598MHZ, 192MB or RAM (I know "old school" but it was my very first computer and I can't bear to through it away and it works).
It is not over used - mainly browsing or streaming music whilst I work on my laptop but a few weeks ago, it began running v.v.slowly to the point it was as good as non functional i.e. log in but that was it.
I am not the most technically literate but figured I had picked up a virus of some sort (for reference I had been using AVG but had been having some problems).
I managed to get it to boot in safe mode and downloaded and ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Spybot and as I wasn't sure if AVG was working I downloaded Avast and removed AVG. (Both Malware and Spybot found a virus).
Initially it seemed as if this had done the trick and I logged off.
Now however, whilst I can log on - I can not launch any applications - IE - returns a web page not found message and opening any other application for a example a word doc on my desktop just shows up the egg timer shows and just hangs. I have checked in task manager and there only desktop manager itself seems to be using any of the CPU.
Can someone please help/advise?
Many thanks in advance.

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February 11, 2011 at 07:53:31
Try reinstalling Windows XP,or just install 7 if you wish.I know its a pain,but it looks like some of the files in WINDOWS folder are missing so it would be a good choice to reinstall and get those files again.Thats the bad thing.If a virus deletes a file when you delete the virus the file WONT come back.Hope this helps-randomacessmem.

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February 11, 2011 at 08:39:51
randomacessmem - just install 7! (windows 7?) - did you look at his spec.

neophyte123 - even before this the machine must have been almost impossibly slow! With that processor, but even more importantly only 192MB RAM, xp is only going to choke.

If you've had malware that's compromised windows settings then best bet is to do a fresh install - but I honestly wouldn't bother on that machine (the time & effort...) unless you have no alternative.

One thing you could try (if its working) is system restore to date before the problem started. If the malware has only compromised settings, not removed system files (which is the situation in every case I've fixed), system restore can help. However, be warned, some malware also wrecks system restore!

If you do get it back, make sure your start up list of programs only includes your internet security - and only have one internet security that runs at start up installed (I'd recommend Microsoft's Security Essentials). The program autoruns is good for managing startup list (or there's the built in msconfig of course).

Good luck!

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February 11, 2011 at 08:40:51
I suggest you run a hard drive fitness test on the drive. Get the correct download from the manufacturer of your drive. If you don't know the manufacturer and don't want to remove the drive to find out then either try to garner that information from watching the POST screens at start up, or use SIW to identify the drive brand and model. SIW has several versions and in your case the portable version may be best. Download it using a working rig and copy to compatible media. That version does not require installation so you should be able to access the media to run it. Worst case, boot to Safe Mode and run from there.

Device Manager may be of help too.

The fitness test works best when used by booting directly to it.

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February 11, 2011 at 09:55:00
Hi - thanks for the responses so far.
I tried system restore but the earliest date available did not predate when the issues first started.
I thought I would give it a go anyway but it said that file was not available.
Re: Windows 7 - yes don't think my spec is up to this! For browsing this was actually fine include playing online video so I know this may seem really really antiquated but it worked.

If I can find the original disk for XP (going to take some digging round in boxes - think I must have moved house three times with this machine!) - how does this affect the hard-drive and any files stored? What if their is a deeply hidden virus on the hard drive - wont it still exist with XP reinstalled? Sorry if these are dumb questions.

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February 12, 2011 at 02:46:49
ophyte123, several thoughts come to mind. First and foremost is RAM. To my way of thinking, there's no such thing as 'too much', but there's definitely too little and yours is sorta bordereline. Increase it if possible. In my experience XP needs at least 512K to be happy. It'll run with a lot less, but...
Try RIGHTCLICKING an unused spot on your taskbar to bring up what's currently running. Click on 'memory usage' to sort by use. Take a look at the biggest user and see if you can live without it. I've been able to delete high usage offenders and speed things up on mine.
Ed in Texas

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February 13, 2011 at 10:41:52
neophyte123 - if you do a clean install (ie, format the partition or remove & recreate it during the install process) you will definitely remove any malware, and also of course any files you have on the machine. You'd need to back these up first (to usb memory stick, external hard drive, CD/DVD..). You will also need to have the drivers for your hardware (motherboard, graphics, sound, network) available (its possible xp will have them all, but unlikely). They may already be on hard drive - if you haven't got them should be available on the web.If you could update the RAM, would be good - probably SDRAM with that age of machine - sounds like you've got a 128MB & a 64MB (or possibly 3x64) - don't know how many slots you have. Ebay has some sdram - check max size chip your board can take & go for that (should be at least 2x256MB).

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