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  1. #1
    3 Star Lounger
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    Can't Start Any Programs (XP Home, SP2)

    Oh Great Gurus,

    It has been a while since I last asked for help, but this one has me baffled.

    My daughter reported that her computer was acting "funny." Aside from saying she lost her internet connection, she was not very descriptive.

    Her machine is a Dell Dimension 8100 running Windows XP-Home, SP2. She connects to the internet via a wireless connection to the household Netgear router and a cable modem.

    I logged onto my environment on her computer and noted that everything was running very slowly. When it finally came up, I noticed that nothing displayed in the notification area of the taskbar other than the time. I was able to load the task manager, but nothing else. When I opened the Control Panel and tried to open an applet, I got the following message:

    "THis file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Folder Options control panel."

    I shut down the computer and booted up in safe mode with networking, then logged into the Administrator environment. I got the same message there whenever I clicked on a program icon. I could open the file explorer and see files, but when I clicked on an executable application, I got the same message.

    If I clicked on the Tools option on the File Manager, then Folder Options, then the File Types tab, I could not see an EXE extension. I tried to add it to see if that made a difference and it did not.

    The only other thing my daughter said was that she started seeing a slew of Trend Micro pop-ups just before things went south. I had Trend Micro PC-Cillin on that machine as a virus checker.

    Any suggestions on what I might do? I am dead in the water right now.

    Thanks in advance.

    Douglas

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Can't Start Any Programs (XP Home, SP2)

    I'm guessing that the machines in the house aren't networked or that you don't have file sharing access if they are. This sounds like a virus infection, and a rather serious one. Your daughter didn't happen to notice what the PC-Cillin popups were warning her about, did she (I know mine wouldn't have) ?? Can you run PC-Cillin at this point ??? I'd give that a shot, although if it's not in the system tray it's probably been borked too.

    If nothing else works, you could pull the HD out of your daughters machine and slave it up in your computer, scan it for viruses before you do anything else, and clear out anything the virus scan finds. Next run all your antispyware tools on the slave drive and clean out anything they find. Then see what you can access on the drive using your OS. HTH
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  3. #3
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Can't Start Any Programs (XP Home, SP2)

    I agree with Dr. Watson. If you cannot connect to the Internet anymore to update your Antivirus virus definitions, try to boot to Safe Mode (how?) and run full system scan. If you can update your Antivirus, do so first and then run full system scan. Then update your anti-malvare program (as SpyBot Search & Destroy, Lavasoft Ad-Aware or another) and perform full cleanup. I bet you will need to restart your computer several times to clean it up fully. I also strongly recommend to use more then one anty-malware program for system cleaning (they have different databases and different approaches). Usually to clean a computer like yours takes 6 - 10 hours. In the future set your Antivirus automatic updates to update every day (not even every week!), and install automatic protection against malvare (so-called "Immunization" in SpyBot, for instance) or firewall with Anty-spyware protection (as ZoneAlarm Pro). Do not forget to update your anty-spyware programs regularly!

  4. #4
    3 Star Lounger
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    Re: Can't Start Any Programs (XP Home, SP2)

    All,

    Thanks for the suggestions. I tried the least intrusive options first, running anti-spyware in safe mode (Adaware SE, Spybot, PC-Cillian), but the non-responsive program problem plagued me there too.

    Then I attempted to repair the windows installation using the original windows disk. That did not work. Then I re-installed windows over the old copy (yes I know that is not the best way, but I thought that if I could get the system functioning to some degree, I could at least back data off before going in and flatlining the beast for a clean install.

    So I have re-installed windows and have a computer that is responding normally (so far). I have a functioning wireless connection established, but I cannot get through to the internet. The wireless connection shows up in the networks applet on the control panel.

    Any ideas what I could try next? I am posting this from my computer which has a hard connection to our router. My son's computer also has a wireless connection and it is working properly, so the router/cable modem setup is working.

    All thoughts welcome.

    Douglas

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