Windows 7 PC so slow that it barely works

A friend has a Windows 7 Home Premium laptop PC running Internet Explorer. I think the browser has been hijacked as whatever you type into the address bar reverts to ASK and all the links on the page look suspicions. If you type in a website address within a second you get the error message "The page cannot be displayed" and sometimes a box with "script error message" I tried to run Ccleaner from a usb but it just ran for ages without doing anything.
Unfortunately the laptop has been run for sometime without any anti virus which I think probably accounts for the present problems.
I have managed to install a new up to date router without any problems.
I'm just not quite sure what is the best thing to do. I would like to avoid formatting the hard drive if possible and would be grateful for any suggestions as to how to resolve the problem.
medcomputersAsked:
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jcimarronCommented:
medcomputers--
Install and run an antivirus app.  There are plenty of free ones available.  Post back if you need suggestions.
Install and run MalwareBytes.

If no help Reset IE.  IE Tools|Internet Options|Advanced tab|Reset button.
http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free
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GaryCommented:
Check Add/Remove programs for anything suspicious and remove

Install Malwarebytes (free version but use the Pro trial)
http://www.malwarebytes.org

Download an AV - there's plenty free so no excuse for not having it.
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akbCommented:
Yes, run MalwareBytes but also check the Hard Disk by running HardDiskSentinel. http://www.hdsentinel.com/
Often a dying HDD can cause PC to grind to a halt.
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi guys
Thanks for really fast response. My problem is that I cannot install anything either from IE on the laptop or an exterior usb as a result of the constant redirection described in my original question. I think I need to boot the laptop from a cd and then run an anti virus program. Is that a good idea and, if so, what is the best programme to use? Do you think I should try Ultimate Boot CD?
Thanks
Matthew
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GaryCommented:
Try booting in Safe Mode with Networking - depends on what the problem is, if it's viruses won't make any difference
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GaryCommented:
Why don't you want to reinstall?
If there is space and the OS is as trashed as it sounds it may be the better option

You can still recover all your files from the win.old directory.
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi Gary
I was worried that I would loose all my files, which I would if I formatted the hard drive and started again. If I just do a reinstall can I recover all personal files from win.old?
I need to check if the owner has the original disks. I noted that there is an OS partition as you get on a new PC which I believe contains the original OS files. Do you know if it is possible to burn these files to a cd and then use the disk to reinstall Windows?
Thanks
Matthew
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GaryCommented:
Depends on the what the manufacturer has done.
Reinstalling Windows itself doesn't require a format, just enough space to reinstall. Your old Windows installation will be moved to windows.old and all your other folders (programs etc) will be left as they are but will no longer work.
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marsiliesCommented:
There are several bootable antivirus discs available:
http://pcsupport.about.com/od/system-security/tp/free-bootable-antivirus-software.htm

Note that they could damage the OS install by quarantining infected system files. If this happens, you'll likely have to do a new install.

A Windows 7 custom install will, by default, move the old install on a disc and all the user files to a WINDOWS.OLD folder. You'll have to make sure the drive has enough free space to hold both the old and new install on it at once.

The rescue partition on most OEM PCs do a "factory restore" of the original disk image, and thus will typically wipe out all user data. There's usually a utility on the PC for burning this partition to CD/DVD, but it's not the same as an OS install disc.
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GaryCommented:
Do you have the licence key and I assume access to another pc?
If so just download W7 (I assume x386?) from here, burn to a disc and use to reinstall.
http://msft.digitalrivercontent.net/win/X17-58996.iso

If it was me I would just forget trying to clean it, it sounds too fecked up to try and clean reasonably (and invariably not possible with 100% guarantee)
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jcimarronCommented:
medcomputers--
You will not lose personal data or uninstalled programs if you run a Repair Install.
http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/3413-repair-install.html

If you cannot read that on the affected PC, go to another PC and read it.  There is nothing to download.

I assume there is no antivirus or antimalware program already installed on the machine.
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi guys
Many thanks for all your suggestions, all really helpful. It may be some time before I have access again to this laptop, possibly a fortnight, so is it possible to get back to you in the near future?
Thanks
Matthew
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jcimarronCommented:
medcomputers--
Fine with me.  Just keep logging into this page from time to time to be sure the admins are not proposing to delete it.
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EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
The most important suggestion above was to boot into safe mode with networking.
This will stop most (if not all) of those nasties running in the background, which will allow you effectively run all those scans.

In future consider abandoning (not uninstalling) IE and using Firefox with the NoScripts addon.
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nobusCommented:
what i would do is first have a backup
you can try this when booted from the pc,  - or - better, hook the drive to a working pc for backup

then do a fresh install, or if the pc is branded, do a factory reset
what model PC is this?
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi Nobus
PC is a Packard Bell Easy Note TS13HR.

Have to get to work now.

Many thanks
Matthew
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nobusCommented:
if you have restore CD's - that's what they are for
otherwise tap either F8 on bootup to get to a screen for choices - safe mode , repair ,restore etc.
 Or  hit the F10 key during bootup to get to factory restore.
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jcimarronCommented:
Eirman--
"The most important suggestion above was to boot into safe mode with networking.
 This will stop most (if not all) of those nasties running in the background, which will allow you effectively run all those scans."

But anti malware programs advise against running scans in safe mode, since much of the malware is not active then and will not be detected.
http://www.sevenforums.com/system-security/53038-malwarebytes-safe-mode.html

So run MalwareBytes in safe mode only if that is the only way it will run.
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Hi guys
If I boot into safe mode should I be able to run a version of Malwarebytes or Ccleaner previously installed on a usb or is it better to try to download the programs from the internet and run them from the hard drive as usual?
It will be a few days yet before I have access to this laptop but you have all given me several things to try as soon as I can do so.
Many thanks
Matthew
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jcimarronCommented:
medcomputers--
"If I boot into safe mode should I be able to run a version of Malwarebytes or Ccleaner previously installed on a usb or is it better to try to download the programs from the internet and run them from the hard drive as usual? "

1)  As mentioned immediately above "So run MalwareBytes in safe mode only if that is the only way it will run. "
2)  Ideally run the most recent version of MalwareBytes if you can download from internet.  Or running from a USB stick should be fine.  Except in both cases you may or not be able to download the latest definitions.  They do not download with the basic program but only run just before you start the scan.
3)  I do not recommend CCleaner.  http://www.whatthetech.com/2007/11/25/do-i-need-a-registry-cleaner/
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medcomputersAuthor Commented:
Many thanks for all your suggestions guys. Really helpful.
Matthew
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