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Delving into the black box yet again - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 24th, 2013

09:22 am - Delving into the black box yet again

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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 23rd, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
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I didn't say you shouldn't use AVG, I just said I use something else, so I know absolutely nothing about AVG.

It sounds like what you said:
- Hardware problem, first thing to do: boot memory testing tool and leave it running a little bit. Second thing: boot into live linux cd and check the SMART statistics on the hard drives which can give a hint if things are close to failing.
- Failed Windows Update (when are your Windows Updates set to install? Is it possible they were updating at the same time as AVG?) The reason I dislike anti-virus software is it can sometimes fuck with the internals of the OS to make it more "secure", but can also have unintended consequences.
- Malware, but of the kind that's tried to infect your machine but failed and instead broke it. It'd be worth checking with T whether his computer problems have gotten worse. If his machine is infected, then it may try to exploit a weakness in yours. I've kept my machine in Linux for the last week, and will probably keep it in Linux until this is resolved.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 23rd, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
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That wasn't aimed at you, it was based in experience from pretty much every time I've mentioned computer problems on my blog. Often I get three or four conflicting pieces of advice from Folks What Know Stuff, all telling me I should be doing something different from what I was doing.

I said in my post that Wed night is the night for Windows Update, but I don't know if it did it because when I left it the machine was running disk error repairs, and therefore I don't know if Windows had actually loaded by the time WU was due to run. There was no evidence on startup of it having run, but the whole thing was so slow it probably didn't get that far.

My planned approach:

Start in safe mode.
Run System Restore to last week. If this works, completely uninstall AVG and start from scratch. This should detect whether it's a failed update of any kind.
Run malware check. This may or may not work because if AVG is the problem it may not run. But there are other options, and will exclude malware.

The site I looked at recommends that if neither of the above (or a couple of other software fixes) don't work, do a fresh install of Windows. I'm loath to do this because the way my machine is behaving I'm unlikely to be able to back up before doing that and the thought of reinstalling all my games leaves me cold. So instead of doing that, this is where I'd start looking at hardware testing problems.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 23rd, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
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I would suggest starting with the livecd Linux option first. My reasoning is that if things are fubared, then the longer you run things on a broken or malware infect environment, the more likely/possible that more data could be lost.

Linux can load without touching the data on your hard drive (much), so there's a better chance of recovery or detection of hardware problems before they make windows destroy itself.

But, that's just my 2c ;p
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From:t_c_da
Date:October 23rd, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
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From an experiential point of view, I have to agree with Dr Wheel. I had a series of BSD's in the space of 35 minutes a couple of weeks ago, which BIOS diagnostics revealed to be a failing hard drive. Linux was able to let me recover all my data before the drive completely died although Windoze, even in Safe Mode, couldn't stand long enough to do anything reliable.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 23rd, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
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1. I'm pretty sure I'll find out quickly if Windows won't stand long enough to do anything reliable.

2. Irony!
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