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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    SYSTEM_DRV and other mystery partitions




    LANGALIST PLUS

    SYSTEM_DRV and other mystery partitions


    By Fred Langa

    Many PCs ship with OEM-installed partitions whose purpose can be puzzling. Here's a description of two common types of OEM partitions and how to handle them as they apply to backups, System Restore, and the like.


    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/langalist-plus/system-drv-and-other-mystery-partitions/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    RE: Is MSE still a good choice for AV protection?

    I was relying on MSE until last week, when I watched a trojan invade my wife's XP computer in real-time, via a drive-by download.

    I was alerted to the attack by error messages popping up on screen (some part of the Trojan was actually CRASHING as it ran, although that didn't seem to hinder it too badly.) I then watched the MSE icon turn from green to red, then pop up a balloon warning me that "my computer might not be safe". When I moved the mouse over the red icon, it vanished completely, just as the fake anti-virus scanner installed by the trojan popped up on screen and began to run.

    So not only did MSE fail to prevent the infection, it was completely disabled by the attacker.

    This is not the first infection I have had to deal with on MSE's watch, although it was the first one I have witnessed as it happened, so I can rule out any errant clicks or downloads of questionable software as the source of the problem. We were eating dinner and no one was even using the computer when the attack occurred.

    I'm now using Avira, which seems to do a better job at finding and cleaning infections than the other free solutions I've tried (I've had dismal results with ClamWin AV as well).
    Last edited by jimdoria; 2012-07-26 at 11:00. Reason: Adding subject

  3. #3
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    Restoring a system after massive failure

    A fascinating story but there is a need for another column how to get drivers.

    I have found that the principal challenge of reinstalling a boot drive is getting the drivers. I have had occasion to do this a few times over the years and getting the new drive to boot is the least of it. Finding compatible drivers for drives, NIC, sound, and video etc. including the correct order in which to install these can be a bit of a challenge. Many manufacturers today may no longer provide older files on the web. Also, for some time now manufacturers no longer provide a driver disk when you purchase a new computer (not even for an extra charge).

    I believe some folks would be interested in an up-to-date column of finding/installing drivers.

  4. #4
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasrome View Post
    A fascinating story but there is a need for another column – how to get drivers.

    I have found that the principal challenge of reinstalling a boot drive is getting the drivers. I have had occasion to do this a few times over the years and getting the new drive to boot is the least of it. Finding compatible drivers for drives, NIC, sound, and video etc. including the correct order in which to install these can be a bit of a challenge. Many manufacturers today may no longer provide older files on the web. Also, for some time now manufacturers no longer provide a driver disk when you purchase a new computer (not even for an extra charge).

    I believe some folks would be interested in an up-to-date column of finding/installing drivers.
    I take a two-pronged approach to insure that I always have a driver backup (to go with my data and system backups) at hand in case of need.

    (1) When the computer is new, burn the OEM drivers onto a CD or DVD, along with all the associated OEM software. If this is not an option with a computer, the manufacturer will often sell OEM reinstall disks with the drivers on them.

    (2) Download DriverMax Free, but don't use it to get new drivers. Only your computer's manufacturer should be trusted with updating drivers for your system, and only then if anything goes wrong or a security or patching issue arises. Instead of getting the drivers from DriverMax's servers or links, use the Back Up Drivers (Backup and Restore) option to create a ZIP Folder containing all your current drivers as they are right now (assuming the system is working well). This becomes your drivers archive, and DriverMax can restore these drivers any time they are needed. Also, when un-ZIPped, this Folder can be used as a source for the built-in Windows "Update Driver" routines. It's the option to install a new driver "from the local computer" or "Have Disk", depending on your Windows version. DriverMax archives are pure driver files, except that they are compressed into a ZIP format. 7-Zip can un-ZIP these archives. Store copies of your driver archives on durable media or on external drives for safety.

    Driver archives of this sort are not tied to specific OEM hardware, so the drivers can be restored to any new or replaced hardware for which they are the correct drivers.

    I have successfully rolled back bad driver updates, restored and updated systems and reinstalled various versions and service packs of Windows to a couple of laptops using the backup and restore features of DriverMax Free.

    I am not compensated in any way for making positive posts about DriverMax. The vendor has offered free users Pro upgrades if they notify Innovative Solutions of their positive reviews. I have been declining these offers, and will continue to do so. My sole reason for recommending the backup and restore features of DriverMax Free is simple -- it just works.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-07-26 at 23:24.
    -- Bob Primak --

  5. #5
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Drivers are something one needs to get a handle on when the computer is first purchased.
    Finding and downloading drivers off the manufacturer's site is something that should be done routinely, and kept up as new drivers come out.
    This goes hand in hand with a well regimented backup plan, just like your data or your programs that don't come on a packaged disk.
    Driver disks, when provided, are almost like an insider joke, they're outdated the moment you get your hands on it. (what's the point)

    If you have an OEM partition on your computer, quite often one can pluck them from there, but even they will often be outdated.
    Software applications designed to find drivers may be usefull in some circumstances where one has a difficult driver to find, but I wouldn't rely
    on them for all my driver needs. The manufacturer's site will still be your best bet unless your dealing with something that is really antiquated, then
    a serious and meticulous google search will usually yield results. (from experience)

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    bobprimak (2012-07-31)

  7. #6
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    I totally agree, CLiNT. My reason for using DriverMax is both to update an older laptop which had gotten way out of date, and to do regular backups of drivers when I change them. Restoring (or rolling back, if a driver update doesn't work out well) from the DriverMax archives is very easy, and these archives can be used by Windows as a source when they are needed. If Windows is ever reinstalled or the hardware changes, such archives can be useful. So DriverMax for me is not primarily an updater program - it is a backup and restoration program in most of my uses of it.

    Generally, if a driver isn't broken, don't fix it.
    -- Bob Primak --

  8. #7
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    Hello... Very helpful info. I didn't know about MSE, so I downloaded and installed it, and in less than a week it's caught:
    - Adware:Win32 (3 of them)(Alert level: Low) (Action taken: Removed)
    - Exploit:Jave/CVE-2011-3544.gen!A (Alert level: Severe) (Action taken: Quarantined)

    That makes me both happy and perplexed. I already have paid versions of Malwarebytes and Avira Antivirus Premium. Why aren't these guys catching the stuff MSE catches?

    I just performed a scan with MSE, and it's identified Avira Antivira as "Adware... This program delivers potentially unwanted advertisements to your computer." Recommended action: Permit this detected item only if you trust the program or the softwaer publisher." I like Malwarebytes. It catches stuff, and never interferes with my PC's performance. When I had a question, I got a prompt reply from a human. Lately, Avira seems to slow things way down when it scans. I'm wondering:
    - Now that I have MSE and Malwarebytes (paid version), should I just disable or uninstall Avira?
    - If I keep Avira, should I "permit" it on MSE?

    Oh, BTW, I'm at low level of knowledge about this; still fuzzy about the difference between what anti-malware, anti-virus, and firewalls do. Still, even at my low lit level, I still get a lot out of Windows Secrets!

    Much thanks,
    Marc Grobman


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