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Vista repair options?

Posted on 2013-02-05
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Dell Vostro, running Vista Home Premium SP2.
Trouble started when trying to remove a rootkit with Hitman Pro & ever since then, I cannot get it to boot in anything other than safe mode.
When booting normally, it will get to the point where I can click on username & it reboots.
I have tied startup repair & it says it finds nothing wrong.
I have tried system restore, to about 5 different restore points & still the same.
Accessed the HD from another maching, ran chkdsk - it said it found & repaired several problems, but still the same problem.
I was hoping to do a repair install, like you could do in XP, but most of the things I read suggeat that you have to boot normally into Vista & it runs like an inplace upgrade, but won't run in safe mode!
Other than smashing this thing with a hammer, I am open to suggestions!
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Question by:gromack
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38 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38856368
See if the following procedure works for you:

Once you have booted up with the Vista DVD / Recovery Disc, select Repair Options and select Command Prompt. Type the following commands in succession, press <Enter> after each line:
 
cd "c:\windows\winsxs"
del pending.xml

Open in new window


Then close out and reboot. Hopefully the problem will be solved.
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856379
Backup your data and do a "Restore to Factory Settings".

That will wipe the drive and reinstall the OS as it was when it was brand new.

Then copy your data back.

You also might want to consider upgrading to Windows 7 or 8.
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38856389
You can also try and run the software Combofix, because other than searching and removing spyware, it can also fix numerous issues within Windows that were caused by spyware and its removal. It certainly is worth a try, especially since you can run it in Safe Mode.

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/combofix
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38856489
EMJSR - I'm getting the reply;
could not find c:\windows\winsxs\pending.xml
Will try combofix, too.

ScottCha - the reason I am here asking this, is that is really my last option & wanted to try other solutions first & yes, windows 7 is on the horizon. As far as Win 8 - didn't we learn anything from ME & Vista? I think I'll wait for Windows 9, ha-ha!
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856503
The only reason I suggested Windows 7 was because you mentioned a hammer.  :-)

Also before I suggested Win7 I did suggest a "Restore to new condition".

What what we learned from ME and Vista was "Never use even numbered installs of Windows".
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38856523
One other fly in the ointment about the restore to original settings is I'm betting sis isn't gonna have a clue where all her disks are!
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38856528
Running SFC /scannow at a command prompt saved my Vista machine from a similar situation.

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/1538-sfc-scannow-command-system-file-checker.html
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38856542
Actually, if you can boot into safe mode, the more likely cause of your trouble is a bad user profile. Lots of articles like this one address that problem.

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/software/3220675/how-to-fix-a-corrupt-user-profile-in-windows-vista/
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856545
Some machines have the restore partition on the HD.  That way you just press a function key or keys to access it.

Try Ctrl-F11.  This seems to be the norm for Dell.

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19245630.aspx
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856554
Here's how to do it on a Vostro 400:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8456630_factory-restore-dell-vostro-400.html

What model are you working with?
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38856587
Restoring to factory condition will wipe out your data and installed programs. To me that's the same as hitting it with a hammer. You should first try the "corrupt profile fix" at the link I posted. If you can get into safe mode then the computer is not that far gone.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38856595
TommyBoy, I kept getting a message about the disk being locked or read only, so I popped it out, put in an external drive enclosure, ran that & nothing! There are 2 profiles, from what I can see - there's a QB User & her's. I'll look into that, but if profile was a problem wouldn't it at least wait until I logged in before crapping out?
ScottCha, it's the office, quickbooks, etc., etc., that I'm worried about!
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856612
tommyBoy, not it's not.  That's why you backup the data in Safe Mode and keep your install disks safe.

Oh, didn't know those were on there.  I'd try and find the disks.  Because eventually every HD will fail.

If sis has to buy more disks I'll be she is more careful in the future.  ;-)
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38856653
True, you can back up your data in safe mode. Programs, no.
if profile was a problem wouldn't it at least wait until I logged in before crapping out?
Not necessarily, a corrupt profile can behave as you describe, i.e. click on the username and the machine reboots.

Getting into safe mode means that the basic system files are intact. Not being able to log in to the full Vista experience means some add-on feature or hardware driver is corrupt OR your profile is corrupt.

The "corrupt profile fix" will fix the profile, the SFC /scannow will attempt to fix the other two types of problems.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38856686
Ok, unfortunately its time to go to my real job - thanks for advice & I'll get back to this tonight.
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38856693
Relatives can be such fun.
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38856721
To the last comment by ScottCha, I only have this to say:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/computers
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38859995
An extra added bonus is when you have people who can't remember their friggin' passwords, too!
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38879073
Ok, some actual paying work kept me tied up for a couple of days, but I'm back with a few more questions/problems.
Tried the corrupt profile fix.
I was only able to boot to safe mode to do this.
Added new account, logged in as that user, copied files from bad (?) acct to new folder, deleted bad acct - it asked if I wanted to keep files & I said yes, just in case.
Rebooted computer & same old acct I deleted was there, along with a QB User acct created when Quickbooks was installed!
Went to accounts & new account I had created was not there!
WTF?!?!?
And of course, when I logged in under mysteriously re-appearing account, none of old files, etc., were there.
So, I am open to any other suggestions, even those involving large hammers!
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38879788
Did SFC /scannow find and fix any problems?
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38880253
There is a system repair pending that requires a reboot to complete. Restart windows and run sfc again.
Rebooted with the repair your computer option, only get the option to log in as other user. Try the only acct I know to be available & get 'the specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted'
This is a home premium version, not a domain member - WTF?!?!
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Expert Comment

by:Tom Beck
ID: 38881359
Sounds like the profile is still corrupted.

You're still able to get to a command prompt from safe mode? If so, you can enable the local administrator's account by entering

net user administrator /active:yes

The password should be blank. Maybe if you run the profile fix and SFC /scannow from that login?
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Accepted Solution

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ScottCha earned 500 total points
ID: 38881381
You've been at this for a week.  Backing up the data, and doing a fresh install would only take a couple hours at most.

I know you don't want to lose the installed programs but at some point that's what is going to happen.
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38881443
If she doesn't have Office, you can always go for alternatives such as OpenOffice or something along those lines. As for Quickbooks, if she is a customer, I'm sure they will be able to help her with her details and provide a download link. I've found Intuit to be quite helpful in the past when we needed to get QB fixed for clients.

Also, you can try and run a keyfinder on Windows and at least obtain registry keys for Windows/Office and in some cases other software, so at least you have those. In cases of Office 2007 or 2010 you could then download a trial and activate it using the keys.
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38881454
Along those same lines, if she purchased Office and registered it I'm sure Microsoft will be able to help.  Good idea EMJSR.
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38881460
True, but Microsoft can be a bit tedious, especially if you're trying to call on someone's behalf etc. If she has the information though, I'm sure they will be able to help just as well.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38885338
Booted off a vista repair disk, chose repair options, command prompt, am in the recovery partition, can see PCRestore.exe, typing that command & NOTHING HAPPENS?!?
Just goes back to D:\Tools

Where did I put that #%^##€£ hammer...
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38885388
You keep trying to do a repair and it keeps failing.  Are you even going to consider doing a Factory Reset?
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38885427
I sm trying to do that now.
Currently booted safe mode with command prompt, in the recovery partition, running the factory image restore.
Halfway through formatting HD, window with red circle X, that just says error, only option is ok, which puts me back to D:\Tools...
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38885439
Sorry...misunderstood.  It's possible the HD is bad.  Try running the diagnostics in BIOS and see if they turn anything up.  Be sure to run the long scan.
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38885447
If it is a bad HD your sister will have to make the choice of the cost of a new HD and I would recommed upgrading to either Windows 7 or 8.  I think Microsoft still has the deal of upgrading to 8 for $80.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38885479
Windows 8?
Nooooooooo....
Running HD test now...
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38885486
LOL!!! I know.
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Expert Comment

by:EMJSR
ID: 38885511
As an unrelated side note...

Windows 8 isn't actually that bad, IF, and only IF you get the third party "Start 8" add-on. It's around $5 and makes 8 look like 7. At least on the surface for the most part. I guess I have no choice, but to start using it eventually, otherwise support could be difficult. Luckily there is VMware.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38888139
I let the long test run, no problems found.
On the bright side, we did come up with all the disks that came with it...
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Author Closing Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38889888
My stubborness kept me from doing this at the start!
Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:ScottCha
ID: 38889902
That's a lesson I learned a while back.  I usually don't spend more than an hour trying to fix a PC.  If there is a virus or it looks like a corrupted OS I backup the data, wipe, and rebuild.

Happy to be of assistance.
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Author Comment

by:gromack
ID: 38889992
It seems I need to be reminded every once in a while, ha-ha!
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