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Can't run .exe executables

We have an XP Pro laptop that's lost the ability to run .exe's.  It won't run anything in the Run sections of the registry.  It will run Malwarebytes, but nothing is found.  I can access the registry by running Start at a command prompt.  I've compared HKCR\exefile, .exe, etc to a working machine and found no differences.  I think I've tried everything at EE under the title of this question and related variations, and I'm stumped.
Avatar of David Kroll
David Kroll
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I assume you've done this:

How did you run Malwarebytes if you can't run exe's?
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try restoring to a date when it worked for you before
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dkrollCTN: yes, I was able to successfully import the .exe fix from Doug Knox, but upon reboot the problem persists.  Regarding Malwarebytes, I was able to install it and it ran once as part of the install.  It won't run now either.

moon_blue69: I can't run system restore in normal mode (I get the same error message ("The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000005)").  I can't log in in safe mode, as none of the passwords that have ever been used on this machine work in safe mode, though they work in normal mode(!)
Do the exe fix again, then run ComboFix (  ComboFix can be very dangerous if used improperly, so be careful.
OK, maybe you can clue me into (what is otherwise the mystery to me) of renaming Combofix, which won't run either.  I don't think I understand prevous posts about how to do that.  I tried running Combofix without renaming and get the same error (oxc000007b), whatever that means.
some malware can specifically target filenames, such as combofix.exe.  Renaming it to something else, like test.exe, might let it run.
If viable, it might be best to wipe and reload the machine.
Yeah, I figured.  It's just the 4 versions of QuickBooks and 3 of ProSeries that are on the machine (the guy's a CPA... but you probably guessed that).
Yeah, that's the last thing I ever want to do, but sometimes it's the only way.  Maybe he'll be a little more careful next time.
Careful of what?  He's a pretty careful guy...
I've seen people I thought were smart do stupid things.  Like one guy who opened the .zip attachment in the email from the USPS because he was expecting a package.  You just never know with some people.
Run exehelper first. Dont reboot if prompted..

Then run Hitmanpro.exe but rename it to first before launching.
MAy work :)
Also check this article, If you can't run .exes in an infected system:'T-RUN-EXES-IN-AN-INFECTED-SYSTEM.html 

If you scroll down EXEHelper is also mentioned in post 17 in ID: 10177
No luck.  I did as you said, but I still can't run any .exe files, and I have to step through every item in the startup section of msconfig to clear the failed to initialize errors.

I'll wait another day or so to see if any more ideas are forthcoming, and I greatly appreciate all your efforts...
rpggamegirl: I successfully ran tdsskiller.  It found nothing.  ComboFix won't run as combofix.exe or .com.  I was also able to run hitmanpro, and it didn't find anything either.

I don't think there's anything running around in this system, or one of these tools would likely have found it.  I think Windows is just broken, though I don't know where, since I've also successfully run the exe-fixers suggested above.
Longshot but try resetting internet explorer . Use Microsoft fixit .      
Have you tried to do a repair install of Windows?  Will the current situation allow that?
Regarding Microsoft Fix-It, a "cscript.exe failed to initialize" error stopped it cold.

dkrollCTN, please be more specific.  I could start off the Windows CD and reinstall over the current install.  I could do what's described in;en-us;q307545.
You could try that link, but I was referring to booting from the Windows CD, when the menu comes up, DON'T press R to go to the recovery console.  Choose Install, it should locate your previous version of Windows and give you the option to repair it.  If the previous version doesn't show up, a full install will be the next course of action.
OK, will do.
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I appreciate all the efforts.  I just erased and started over and all is well.