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Email phishing scam seems to have killed my computer

by boatmonkey / November 2, 2011 12:30 AM PDT

I have a Dell 3000 computer about 5 years old, 35GB hard drive, CD-rom, over 2 gb memory, running Windows XP with all of the service packs and other updates installed. I believe a fake "Hotmail Update notification" that I opened, which was a phishing scam, also contained a virus that wiped out the "boot.ini" and "HAL.DLL" files on my computer hard drive and made it impossible to boot my computer without re-installing Windows. IT GOT PAST 3 SEPARATE ANTI-VIRUS AND ANTI-MALWARE programs on my computer. They are AVAST! (updated minutes before the computer crashed), Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and Windows Security Essentials Anti-virus.The computer absolutely will not boot "normally". I can get to Safe mode, but nothing that is offered (except booting from a CD) works on this problem. It seems that these two files are the first two accessed by the computer when it boots and, of course, I can't get past them. I was able to use another computer and Windows XP-SP2 install disks to build a bootable CD using a program called BartPE. I can boot with this from my CD, but have limited access. I can copy some files, but cannot change anything in Windows and cannot get to the Windows Restore to try it. I can't find any "BOOT.INI" file, and tried copying HAL.DLL from the Windows/i386 file to the Windows/system32 file, but had no luck. It looks like I am facing either re-installing Windows (and losing all my files) or buying another hard drive and trying to transfer at least some of my files. I am buying another, larger hard drive, but if anyone has any ideas how else to get around this, I need to know ASAP. This computer is critical to my business..

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If You've Got A Windows XP CD...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / November 2, 2011 1:29 AM PDT
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by boatmonkey / November 2, 2011 3:04 AM PDT

I'll try what you suggest and let you know how it turns out.

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An added note worth considering when the dust settles..
by Carol~ Forum moderator / November 2, 2011 3:35 AM PDT

Only an added note, worth considering when the dust settles.

With both Avast and Microsoft Security Essentials installed (and both competing for exclusivity), you run the risk of conflicts which may cause crashes, slow performance, wasted resources, false positives and over all instability.

I would highly recommend uninstalling one of the two. More is not better, in the case of A/V software. If you should choose to keep MSE, read what Microsoft has to say about the above (#3).

"Checklist for installing Microsoft Security Essentials"

Best of luck..

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