corrupted files, tried a bunch of stuff... I've listed everything I know.

Ok... here goes. This all started after I installed a new fan on my cpu. I then proceeded to test it out and decided while I was at it, I'd upgrade Windows XP. Keep in mind my PC has been up and running since January with no problems. I downloaded service pack 1, using IE, and things started going bad. I got random crashes and programs that worked fine before now began to crash. So I thought, must be Service Pack 1. I wouldn't be the first person to experience problems with it.

I did a reinstall of windows xp using quick format. Updated some junk, but not to SP1. I start having problems downloading .exe files, zip files, .rar files. They all became corrupted. Or, atleast the majority of them did. But no random crashes. Keep in mind that I have tried both Firefox and IE for downloads.

So, I completely reformatted my drive. Not the quick one, the extended 40 minute, check for bad sectors and write zeros one.

Now, I've got Windows XP Pro (no microsoft updates this time) up and running, and again without random crashes. But I still get the damned corrupted downloads.

I've done the following:

1. Made sure only one NIC was installed. There were two being seen in the device manager.

2. Used Seagate's Seatools to check my hard drive. It says there are minor inconsistencies, but that there are no errors and that things should work just fine. I also used Microsoft's checkdisk utility with the /f option to fix stuff. No problems found.

3. I used Ewido to check for malware using a very specific proceedure described here involving safe mode and upgrading ewido. Nothing found except some cookies, which are NOT the problem. However, when restarting the PC one time, ewido told me that some of IT'S FILES HAD BEEN MODIFIED!!! and that I should run the updater again, which I did and proceeded to use ewido again to check for viruses and malware. Afterwards I checked to see if it's files were changed, but they hadn't been that time. I'm thinking this may be caused by a virus or perhaps a bad hard drive... keep reading.

4. I also used avast! to check for viruses and such. Nothing found.

5. My most recent attempt was to install my copy of McAfee Antivirus, purchased in January, which was a bitch to upgrade and get up to date. It took several attempts to upgrade McAfee, as if it's own downloads were being corrupted. I actually had to update it in safemode, which only worked after the second time.

Whatever this is, it is really owning my pc. I'm an IT guy myself and I have no idea what to do next. Any help would be greatly appreciated. There's 500 points in it for someone who actually figures this out.

Thank you all in advance.


allenholmesAsked:
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Wooky JackCommented:
Did you also try running each stick on its own instead of just flip flopping them?
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ISoulCommented:
Do you happen to be running any firewall? By any chance ZoneAlarm?

I've had the same thing happen to me awhile back... downloaded files would be corrupted and it didn't make any sense to me at all. In the end, found out for some reason, it was ZoneAlarm that caused it. Never used it again since then.
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Wooky JackCommented:
in winrar:

open up the file with winrar.  click extract to.  when the window pops up asking where to extract to there is a check box on the bottom left side of this window that says "keep broken files," check that and click "OK" and let it extract until it finishes whether or not it says "error" or "corrupt files"

that should be a quick way to work around the problem, let me know if that works out.

-thephalanx
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Wooky JackCommented:
Also, you might try updating your BIOS if its not up to date ;)

-thephalanx
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Thanatos2kCommented:
It seems unlikely that hardware could cause something like this, but just to be on the safe side (since you had problems immediately after messing with hardware)

Did you install a new heatsink and fan or just a new fan on an existing heatsink? How hot is your CPU running now compared with before the upgrade? Do you have ambient temp monitoring (or motherboard temp) on your system?

Also, were you static grounded while inside the comp? Are all the cables inside tight?

Also, how old are the components in your rig? Maybe post the specs?
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
ISoul, Absolutely no firewall, minus the router, which I have set to be pretty secure while I troubleshoot this.

thephalanx, I'm a bit hesitant to update the boid just yet. I would need to download a bios... which might get corrupted itself, then I'd really be screwed. Also, I've had that bios working just fine for several months before this all began.

Thanantos2k, I installed a new fan and applied Artic Silver 5. I scrapped the thermal pad off of the processor using something plastic... cuz using something metal would be pretty dumb. Also, I did manage to check to see how hot it was getting. Idling around 50 degrees celcius. I then proceeded to play Lock On... a pretty harcore flight sim that really uses a lot of CPU cycles. It got up to about 65 degrees. Which might seem high. But it takes a around 100 temperature increases for Artic Silver 5 to reach it's maximum effieciency. So I'm really not worried about the temp increase at this point. While originally troubleshooting the corrupted files, my cpu was at around 50 degrees.

OK:

Asus P5SD2-X Motherboard
P4 3 ghz dual core.
Nvidia Geforce 6800GS
1 Gig DDR2 RAM, I think it's DDR2.... whatever it is, it's compatible with the main board and pretty fast.
Seagate 120 gig 7200 RPM, to avoid partitioning... I've had big problems in the past. Also, the hard drive is new since January.
Audigy Platinum SomethingorOther.

I was using a static band on my arm when doing the work inside the comp. The ambient temp is around 30 degrees celcius. I'm gonna have to assume all the cables are tight. I don't think a loose cable is gonna corrupt only .exe files and zips and rars, while at the same time letting me view web pages and listen to music. :)


I dunno if you have to purchase winrar to have the option of "keep broken files", but it is faded out when trying to unpack an .exe file.... no wait, you can "keep broken files" for rar files and zip files, not .exe's

Bummer. Arg, any other suggestions?

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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
A thought crossed my mind. Could a virus hide in that 8mb space that you can't touch when you reformat a drive?
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Wooky JackCommented:
Do you mean in the small area after you have deleted the partition and reformatted and installed xp again?
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
When you have the option to reformat or to leave the current file system intact, it lists the current disks. You'll always see the C Drive with a lot of spcae available, then there will be, I believe, 8 mb of space you can not do anything to. As far as I know, it's always been like that. I'd have to read some info about it to verify why there is always 8mb of unusable space, but it's there.
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Thanatos2kCommented:
Yeah 65C is a little hot, but well within spec.

You can use Seagate's SeaTools to zero out the drive, which will write ones and zeros over all data on both the boot sector and the 8mb that exists past the windows partition. That will eliminate any possiblity of a virus. SeaTools is free from Seagate, and can be downloaded at http://download.seagate.com/seatools/registration.nsf/eula/desktop

If you do that and still have probs, I would say it is a hardware issue. Let me know how it goes.
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Wooky JackCommented:
I've never heard of a virus planting itself in the area that you're talking about.  Have you?  I believe deleting the partition and creating a new one will solve the problem if you need to go that far.  

What I have seen is a virus pop right back up after a fresh installation of XP because of a slave hard drive that had the old OS of xp backed up on it.  But that wasn't in the case of the extra 8mb you can't do anything about.

-thephalanx
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Thanatos2kCommented:
No, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible. There are also boot sector virii that deleting the partition would not get. Zero the entire drive and you know its clean...
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Wooky JackCommented:
I figured that'd be the case, but I've never heard of that situation happening anywhere.  Anything's possible!
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
I think I've found the problem. I downloaded and tried using RAMTester. Guess what... 20 errors testing all of the available memory. I am about to "reseed" the memory and see if that fixes it. If it doesn't, then I'll probably buy some RAM and try it out. I'm pretty sure that the RAM is the problem. When downloading large files on the net, they get stored in memory before the download completes. When it does complete, the stuff thrown into memory gets written to the hard drive. If there are a few messed up bytes in the memory... well you get corrupted downloads. Same with trying to upgrade McAfee, stuff gets stored in RAM before being installed. It worked only after the computer used good parts of the RAM.

Alright, time to test.
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
The reseed did not fix things. I took both out and flpped slots. Still getting memory errors. Guess I'll spend $35 at newegg for a test stick of 512. If that fixes problems, then I'll RMA the other two sticks.
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
Arg, my case sucks, as in it's damned near impossible to get to anything in it (It's the worst designed case I've ever seen. There's a big panel that takes up half of the space you could normally use to access parts. It's completely unnecessary). I suppose I could try that. I think I'll run some more tests on the memory before abandoning it. It would be odd if both sticks went bad at the same time.
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
Update: I ran Microsoft's memory diagnostic utility. My memory failed the LRAND and the ERAND tests. Tomorrow I will take out the sticks and test them individually.
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Wooky JackCommented:
was that the case allenholmes?  you found the bad ram by using one at a time?

Thanks for the points!
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allenholmesAuthor Commented:
I will fill you in within the next two days if your solution was absolutely correct. A few tests to run. Thanks for the help.
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