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edit start up programs without starting windows

Posted on 2013-01-28
Last Modified: 2013-11-22
I am trying to remove a virus from a computer which runs as soon as windows starts, I need to be able to disable the virus so I can deal with it but the whole screen has been taken over by a fake security program called PCeU which is asking for £100 to "unlock" the computer. I am unable to use task manager or the run command even in safe mode, I have tried last known good configuration and also tried using a windows disc to use system restore but apparently there are no restore points. I would like to be able to take this program out of the start up list as if I was using msconfig to access system configuration. Is this possible by accessing the hard drive using another computer and editing a file? The system is Windows 7 Home Premium.
Question by:it4
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Expert Comment

ID: 38827536
Can you press F8 while the PC is booting to force it to boot into safe mode?

From there you will be able to disable everything that boots on starting by clicking start > run > msconfig

you can also ammend the registry if things are still starting up.

Expert Comment

ID: 38827540
You could also try using a recovery/rescue disc available free from many anti-virus companies to do a full scan of the system and remove the virus.

Kasperksy is available here: http://support.kaspersky.com/viruses/rescuedisk,

AVG, Avast and the other major players all have their various versions some free some not.

Expert Comment

ID: 38827541
Sorry ignore my answer, i missed the line where you already said you had tried safe mode.
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Expert Comment

ID: 38827574
There are 2 ways i can think of but could risk spreading the virus so make sure the other pc has good AV on it first.

1 - connect another PC to same subnet and try to access the registry over the network, however i have never tried this on a none domain pc so i dont know if it will work with just the ip address.

2 - plug your hard drive into a working pc, go into the registry editor and click file and then "load hive"

You should then be able to edit the other registry i think the file is located at C:\windows\system32\config

The keys you will be looking for are

For Windows 64-bit users you may also find entries listed under the following keys:-
Occasionally the following keys will also be used - primarily by malware:-
 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\Install\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
 HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

Brian Pringle earned 500 total points
ID: 38827705
I use Ultimate Boot CD 4 Windows (http://www.ubcd4win.com).  You can either use the standard installation or you can customize it.

It does require for you to have a Windows XP computer or the XP installation disc (i386 folder) to build your own bootable disc.  

After booting, you will see a desktop similar to Windows XP.  From there, you can run regedit, load the hives listed above, and edit them.  

Just make sure that you UNLOAD the hives after editing them for them to get saved properly.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:Brian Pringle
ID: 38827707
UBCD4Win will work with Windows 7, even though it is based on Windows XP.
LVL 83

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 38827901
I will second the recommendation for the Kapersky Rescue Disk.  It boots by itself since it is a Linux Live disk.  You need an active internet connection so it can download it's current definitions but it will scan your hard without booting up Windows.
LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38828018
If you are going to use an alternate boot disk, I highly suggest one created with SARDU, that way you have everything (including the kitchen sink) in one place.  This generally means booting to a USB device - but SARDU creates that for you.  See my article:


Author Closing Comment

ID: 38876977
Thanks that worked
LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38877023
I highly suggest you create a disk with SARDU anyway.  It will include UBCD if you wish, but it has so much more.  I use it all the time.

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