all my programs dissapeared

Posted on 2003-10-30
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-29
I booted my computer this morning, saw an error message and the blue screen of death, and then discovered that all of my programs had been uninstalled. ( everything that didn't come with windows, paint and notepad are still there but everything else is gone ) :?

I've no clue what happened. It took my drivers with it, whatever It was, and my last working cd drive is no longer working. ( This I discovered when trying to back up my documents, which were strangely enough entirely undisturbed, whenever a cd is loaded the computer freezes ( and does not thaw. )

If the cd drive insn't working, I can't do a clean reinstall, can't reinstall any of my programs, and am rendered computer-less.

I couldn't even come online using that computer, because Internet Explorer is gone too, as is aol and opera.

I am using windows 98se. Help anyone ?
Question by:màndÕlin
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Expert Comment

ID: 9653168
Can you boot from a CD?  If you have a Win98 CD, you can boot from it and reinstall from there.

LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 9653186
Hi màndÕlin,
Back up your documents!

Reinstall windows 98 over the top of itself, then get some virus scanning done and install some firewall software.

LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 9653190
Virus Checking

If you cant get the PC to boot you will need to scan from Dos

Online (Free) Virus Checking can be done at

SYMANTEC (You must have ActiveX enabled on your browser for it to work!)

Trend Micro (Housecall)

But You really Need some good quality Anti Virus Installed!


AntiDote Lite http://www.vintage-solutions.com/English/Antivirus/Super/index.html
Avast http://www.avast.com/
F-Prot http://www.f-prot.com/products/
V-Catch http://www.vcatch.com/download.html

The BIG Boys in AV


Symantec (or the firm formally known as Norton)

Sophos (This Protects My Corporate Network)

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LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 9653194
Software Firewalls

The basic version is still free!
Zone Labs offers a complete range of firewall products, from the free ZoneAlarm, to the comprehensive protection of ZoneAlarm Plus, to the ultimate privacy and security tools in ZoneAlarm Pro.

Black Ice Defender
BlackICE teams a personal firewall with an advanced intrusion detection system to constantly watch your Internet connections for suspicious behavior.

Symantec's Norton™ Personal Firewall
Keeps hackers out and personal data in. It makes robust firewall protection easy by automatically hiding your PC on the Internet and blocking suspicious connections. Norton Personal Firewall also protects your privacy by preventing confidential information from being sent out without your knowledge.

McAfee Personal Firewall
Personal Firewall places a barrier between the Internet and your PC, helping to block hackers from accessing your computer and allowing you to digitally 'fingerprint' trusted applications. Every time your computer is probed or attacked, you get detailed reports and clear follow-up options.

LVL 97

Assisted Solution

war1 earned 80 total points
ID: 9653204
   Looks like you are able to boot up to Windows.  Install Windows over itself. You will not lose data, even though you should always back up your data.

Boot up with the Windows CD. If the CD is not bootable, boot up with a startup disk. If you don't have one, download one from www.bootdisk.com . Type setup or E:\setup , where E is your CD-ROM drive.

If you don't have the Windows CD, the system files may be in the CABS folder. From a:> type "c:\windows\options\cabs\setup" or "c:\windows\options\install\setup" without the quotes and hit ENTER.

Best wishes, war1

Expert Comment

ID: 9653251
it sounds more to me like you lost all or part of the registry, possibly due to hard disk corruption or a badly timed power spike. Reinstalling windows won't fix that (it won't hurt either).  Check the c:\program files folder -- are the files for your apps still there? if so, you probably just need to reinstall the apps. If you're lucky, you might be able to restore a previous registry booting into dos and running scanreg /restore, picking a registry with a date before you had the problem.


Author Comment

ID: 9653271
I can't boot from cd, I can't use the cd drive ( I just said that ).   I don't know why, but every time a cd is loaded, * poof * the computer stops dead.

Virus checking I can't do, my firewall ( and zone alarm stuff ) is gone with the rest of my programs. I can't go online with that computer either, so I can't put anything new on the computer. ( somehow even dr.Watson is nowhere to be found )

Edit : ( missed a post )

Thanks war1, I'll try that.

Author Comment

ID: 9653292
phoenix, I checked the program files, they are all gone without a trace.

(  Oddly, the only remaining files in that otherwise empty folder is a folder for eZula, which I never installed or noticed had snuck in. I've not even installed any screensavers or the like on that computer. :? )

Expert Comment

ID: 9653334
Well, if the the computer freezes when you put a cd in even in DOS mode, then it sounds like you have a hardware problem as well.  In Windows, I could understand, but if it happens in DOS, that.'s more serious.
LVL 41

Expert Comment

ID: 9654151
try what rogue_phoenix suggested
boot to dos (press F8 during boot and chooe prompt only
and from the prompt type
scanreg /restore
and choose a date before this happened
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 9655409
When you do get your system restored, please take note of all the comments on the following pages regarding eZula:





Accepted Solution

rogue_phoenix earned 1920 total points
ID: 9666698
program files are all gone? hmm.

go to DOS and do a thurough scandisk. if it finds a bunch of bad sectors, that's your problem. If not, you probably got hit with a virus that targeted them. Is there anything else on the drive besides windows, and is there a possiblity that program files was on another partition?

In either case (virus or severe HDD corruption, i.e. bad sector in the FAT), you've lost your data and probably aren't getting it back without a data recovery specialist (and lots of $$$). (there may be an off chance that an undelete utiity might bring some of that back IF the damage is only in the FAT AND none of it has been overwritten since the problem occurred, but know what you're doing before you attempt any of that, and only if you need to get back data you can't replace. It'll be faster to format & reinstall).  If the CD is having problems just being used AND you have severe HD corruption, you've probably lost the IDE controller on the mainboard.  

good luck!
LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 9676821
You can use this to check for viruses in DOS. Just use the computer you are using to post here at ee to download it.

F-Prot Antivirus for DOS

F-Prot Antivirus for DOS is free for personal use

LVL 44

Expert Comment

ID: 9676823
And if you want to try and get those files and such back

Take look at these.


File Recovery is a data recovery program that supports the FAT 12/16/32 and NTFS file systems. The current version 3.x replaces the previous version 2.x, which is now over 6 years old.

For 9x/NT/2K/XP. Restore deleted files that are no longer in the Recycle Bin!

Tool to check and undelete partition
Works with the following partitions:
- FAT12 FAT16 FAT32
- Linux
- Linux SWAP (version 1 and 2)
- NTFS (Windows NT)
- BeFS (BeOS)
- Netware
- RaiserFS


EasyRecovery DataRecovery is a simple, yet powerful tool that recovers data that is lost, inaccessible or deleted. It's the ultimate do-it-yourself solution for nearly all causes of data loss (except physical hardware or system problems) where your hard drive and system are fully functional.

File Rescue 2.5

GetDataBack for FAT
GetDataBack will help you retrieve your files if the hard drive's partition table, boot record, FAT, or root directory have been damaged by a virus, formatting, fdisk or power failure. GetDataBack can even recover your data when the drive is no longer recognized by Windows.

GetDataBack for NTFS
Recover your files when the data is no longer accessible due to formatting, fdisk, virus attack, power or software failure. Get everything back even when the drive's partition table, boot record, Master File Table or root directory is lost or corrupt.
Hard Drives
Floppy Drives
Drive Images
Zip/Jaz Drives

Norton Utilities/SystemWorks
The Norton Protected Recycle Bin helps you recover deleted and overwritten files.
The UnErase wizard helps you retrieve files you've accidentally deleted.


Data Recovery
Fast File Undelete


File Recover 2000


File Restore
If you've deleted your data and you want to get it back, you need FileRestore.
FileRestore is a simple, easy-to-use tool for recovering files that have been lost or deleted from your Windows system. Designed for Windows XP, 2000, NT, Me, and 9x

Hard Disk and Data Recovery Related Tools:
The DiskPatch tool supposedly can rebuild the File System structure depening on the damage to the structure.

Disk Commander
In virtually any situation where you need to recover lost data from a Windows system, Disk Commander is the solution. Disk Commander performs a wide range of data recovery operations.

As a tool to 'UNDELETE' files that have been accidentaly deleted.
This feature is implemented for HPFS and NTFS only.


Emergency Undelete
I believe this is free
For Win2000 and NT may work on XP


Hard Drive Mechanic
It's true. Even if you just re-formatted your entire hard drive, you can still get all of your data back because, unlike what most people believe, formatting does NOT erase your files! With Hard Drive Mechanic's Unformat Feature, you can restore all of your valuable data in about 10 minutes!
demo version:

Filerecovery for Windows
Filerecovery for Windows® is a safe and affordable do-it-yourself data recovery solution that is designed to recover deleted files from all types of media such as Hard Drives, Floppy Drives, SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Sticks, and other types of removable media.

You know how upsetting it is to accidentally delete a file that you need—it takes just a moment to lose hours of work. Undelete file-recovery utility captures ALL deleted files including those that typically bypass the Recycle Bin. You can even recover files you purged from our Recovery Bin. With our Emergency Undelete feature, you can recover files deleted prior to Undelete being installed on your system (provided they have not been written over). Buy Undelete and you'll never again be at the mercy of lost data.

Fast File Recovery
A definite must for the PC guru! It will allow the user to perform all data recovery tasks associated with disks which are not physically damaged.

File Scavenge
File Scavenge is the most comprehensive, award-winning file undelete and data recovery for NTFS volumes on Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

Active UNERASER is a compact and powerful undelete utility that can recover deleted files and folders on FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS systems. It can even restore files from deleted and re-formatted partitions.

Undelete 3.0
Undelete 3.0 restores accidentally deleted files within seconds from anywhere on your system. Version 3.0 includes new SecureDelete, full Windows XP support and expanded search options.

FinalData Data Recovery
FinalData Data Recovery Solution will recover files that have been lost by   quick formatting, FDISK, FAT damage, MBR damage or directory   destruction. It recovers data from FAT12/16/32, NTFS, and EXT2, EXT3.

BadCopy Pro
BadCopy Pro is a leading data recovery tool for floppy disk, CD-ROM, CD-R/W and other storage media. It can effectively recover and rescue corrupted or lost data from damaged, unreadable or defective disks. Various damage situations and all file types are supported.

Directory Snoop
Directory Snoop is a low-level forensic utility that can recover erased files in an emergency, wipe sensitive data, and search for hidden data at the cluster level. Step through your File Allocation Table (FAT) and map individual clusters back to the file that owns them. Purge orphaned (and possibly sensitive) file names right out of the directory structure. $29 shareware for Windows 95 through XP (NTFS drives not supported).

Or Data Recovery Services

Ontrack offers a full range of data recovery solutions to address your data loss needs. Unlike other data recovery companies, Ontrack provides exclusive and patented solutions that do not require you to send in your media for recovery. In situations where the hardware is functioning normally, our patented Remote Data Recovery service and EasyRecovery software solutions can solve your data loss needs safely and effectively in a matter of hours. If another company claims that there is no alternative to shipping your drive, it's because they don't offer an alternative. For situations in which the hardware is physically failing, our In-Lab services will utilize our Class 100 clean-rooms to retrieve your mission critical data.




Total Recall
Our recovery and forensic technology is used by support and call centers as well as data recovery providers world-wide.

ESS Data Recovery
ESS Data Recovery, Inc. has been removing barriers in the data recovery and computer forensics market ever since its inception

Author Comment

ID: 9678469
Okay, there wasn't anything irreplaceable on that computer, ( I'd backed up a few days ago thankfully ) so I reformatted and reinstalled. First I tried just reinstallling windows, but the computer would freeze up every time the cd would start, so . .

It's all peachy keen now.   Thanks for the help.     I still wish I could figure out what happened, the program files were on the same drive as the document folder, and this makes no sense to me . . but no biggie.

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