Question

Need help restoring my Windows 7 system to normal...

Happy Boxing Day... At least, I hope yours has been better than mine! I'm running Windows 7 and have encountered the most problematic Windows 7 issue. I'm assuming this is a virus problem - but I am not an expert. Can anyone help?

The symptoms are as follows:

1) I can't install any new programs. When I try to run any new new program associated with scanning, antivirus, or other fix-it tools, the 'User Account Control' popup asks me if I want the program to make changes to my computer. When I click the 'yes' button, the screen goes semi-dark and I have to press ctrl-alt-del to cancel. The 'User Account Control' popup-box has a link, bottom-right, that offers to let me "change when these notifications appear", but clicking on the link has no effect.

2) I can't uninstall any programs either. Control Panel tells me to "wait until the current program is finished uninstalling or being changed" (which it never does).

3) I cannot start Windows in any of the Safe modes; when I try that, it hangs on the 'Welcome' screen.

4) I often cannot shut down or restart the computer normally; it hangs - or takes ages lingering on the 'shutting down' screen, and I sometimes have to hold the power button down to shut everything down, rather than waiting indefinitely.

Remedial steps attempted:

1) I ran AVG free antivirus. All it found was some PUPs. It removed them; there was no change.

2) I ran MS Security Essentials scan. It found one "dangerous virus" called Onaha.A ...The program quarantined it, but the symptoms remain. It was unable to uninstall the offending freeware program.

3) I ran SuperAntiSpyware. It found nothing.

4) I tried running Malware Bytes, but it won't open (like a lot of my programs: the screen goes semi-dark as soon as I try to run them and I have to press ctrl-alt-del)

5) I ran Hirem's rescue CD and one of the antivirus programs found and deleted 3 trojans, but the symptoms remain. Most of the anti-malware programs on the CD don't run. They may be out of date.

6) I tried restoring Windows to the only previous restore point (one day old) but there was no change. I thought I had other restore points but it seems not. I may have used third-party programs to save backup points had no longer have the programs on my system.

I'm assuming this is a malware problem, but I'll leave it to the experts to confirm. Diagnostics found no faults with my HDD or memory.

I'd love to run some other scans, but my computer won't currently run any diagnostic programs, and doesn't let run anything from a command prompt as administrator either. I do not have a windows 7 disc image to revert to, and I don't have the Windows 7 installation CD. (One was not supplied with this HP Compaq desktop PC, which I purchased about 5 years ago).

Thank you kindly for any help!

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Answer
Re: problems

PC's alwasy came with either recovery disks, or a recovery partition to boot from, or the option to make the recovery disks yourself. Once you found out how (user manual, HP's site, HP tech support), use them to go back to factory settings. Maybe you can still order those disks with HP Customer Service. That's cheaper than buying Windows 7 or 10 yourself, but more expensive then installing Linux in stead of Windows.
It's all your choice.

Then when you have it running again consider making an image backup (Easeys Todo is free, it can be done free from Linux; Acronis isn't free) so you can always go back to the latest backup of your full system.

Kees

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Re: Re: Problems

Hello Kees,
Thank you for the suggestion. Somewhere in my malfunctioning Windows 7 Control Panel, there is indeed an option to restore my PC to factory status, from something stored internally. I was hoping to avoid that last-resort option (if indeed it even works), because I have hundreds of programs on the computer which would be a nightmare to have to reinstall.

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Suspect csrss.exe?

PS....
PS. I just checked Windows 7 Task Manager and looked at my running processes. (See image below.) One thing concerns me. I googled each item starting at the top. All looked legitimate until I got to csrss.exe. I googled this and found that although this is the name of an important Windows process, there are also viruses by the same name. The genuine windows file should be located in C:\Windows\System32. However, when I right-click this item in the Task Manager, and click 'open file location', nothing happens! (unlike every other process in the list). Should I now assume this is a virus? What should I do?
http://www.adeptican.com/process-cap.jpg
TIA!

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So you suspect such. What are you doing next?
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What I'm doing now - and a q'n about upgrding to Windows 10

Thanks, R.P. for the suggested steps. that will probably be my next set of steps. I am currently waiting for a bootable AVG antivirus CD to finish scanning.

I'm also wondering if upgrading from Win7 to Win10 would be a way forward. I note that one can upgrade from Win7 to Win10 free of charge, and it can be done online from the MS site. Would this be a good option? Can anyone advise? Would doing this automatically delete/overwrite all infected files in the Win7 system?

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No.

Also your setup has AVG, Truecrypt some Cobian and is far from a clean stock OS so any upgrade would first have a full backup.

My routine is to be sure the drives are backed up then remove drive encryptions, the antivirus and more. I make the PC as plain as it can be. No Kalendar and more.

Here, I've yet to have a W10 upgrade failure. But then again, I carry an umbrella (prepare vs. take a chance.)

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Can't impelent your other suggestion

Unfortunately, I can't follow your original suggestion because I can't run any new programs on this PC. So i'm running some more bootable antivirus CDs AVG found two viruses and four trojans, but the symptoms remain. Now I'm about to try Avira's offering. I keep wondering if upgrading to Win10 would be a quicker, more sensible option.

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Not to sound impudent.

But you have a pile of items installed that could cause the W10 upgrade to not go so well.

Once you get your PC booting again, you can clean it off to where the W10 upgrade might work but trojans and OS damage mean it's not a sure thing.

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If I can't cure the issues, I may do a factory reset...

I understand. I was thinking of a clean Win10 install... but I've just been reading up on how many people seem to regret upgrading to Win10.... If I am unable to cure my issues, I may do a factory reset and stay with Win7.

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Here I won't be going back to XP, Vista, 7 or 8.

And a clean W10 install could be costly as that won't be the free upgrade. There are tomes on the web about this so in short... Upgrade to 10 and then your machine is marked "good to go for 10" and then you can do a clean install and it's activated and no license to buy.

Again, that's the short version.

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