Boot problem with validation error in XP Pro

Cornelia Yoder
Cornelia Yoder used Ask the Experts™
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I have a legal copy of XP Pro Windows which has been running on my desktop for several years now.  This morning when I booted, the process stopped showing only my desktop background.  In the icon tray there was a star, and when I right clicked it, it said "Validation error".  I tried to reboot and ever since, Windows stops at a point showing only my background and the command bar empty.  None of my desktop icons show, and the Start button shows only black rectangle.

I tried to boot using my XP Pro CD, and it got as far as showing some, not all, of the desktop icons.  The Start button still does not show anything.  I have to use the hardware reset to reboot.

Can anyone tell me what this means and how to fix it?

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Some viruses will do that to your computer.  Have you tried to run malware bytes or anything?  I have had many computers with viruses when that star comes up.
Commented:
+ task manager
+ check for unknown processes like viruses (kill them)
+ kill process "explorer.exe"
+ run new task "explorer.exe"
+ run malware & virus-program
Run this program as it should remove almost any virus and spyware that does this.
you need to run this program in safe mode.
to access safe mode keep hiting F6 key until the startup options show
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix
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Author

Commented:
I hate to sound really stupid, but how do I run any antivirus, antimalware, or downloaded fix program, when I cannot boot?
Pull the hard drive out, put it in another computer or USB device, and run it like that.  If you have another computer.  Have you tried safe mode?

Author

Commented:
Actually, I have a little more than that to work with.  I am posting now from my laptop, and I could download things here a put them on a CD or USB stick.

I also can boot the desktop with the problem using a second harddrive that was installed out of a previous computer about 5 years ago.  It has a very old version of XP on it, and I managed to use that to boot.  I am currently copying backup files of the most critical stuff from the main drive to this drive, and that seems to be working.

So is there a way to run my Norton AntiVirus program on the main drive from having booted on the secondary drive?

Author

Commented:
I have Norton on my laptop too.  Is there any way to use this to scan the desktop computer drives?  
install avast for free and do a boottime scan of all drives. that will take care of the viruses. however they also install adware and this is going to redownload the virus and vice versa in a loop. so you need to get into safemode without a network connection after you remove the viruses and run that combofix.

Author

Commented:
I finally managed to get into Safe mode, ran Norton AV, Malwarebytes, and SuperAntiSpyware.  Norton found 77 tracking cookies and nothing else.  Malwarebytes found nothing additional.  SuperAntiSpyware then found 30 more tracking cookies (I was not connected to the internet at all during this).  None of that looked like anything special, but when I rebooted, everything seems normal!

Thanks so much to all of you for the help in what was for me a scary situation.  

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