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Severely infected laptop, preloaded OS


My friend came to me with her laptop (Toshiba portege) running Windows XP completely overrun by viruses. The computer will not connect to the internet. She has no antivirus software on it (I know, I know). We tried to install Microsoft Security Essentials on it after downloading the installer on another computer and transferring it but the installation would not complete. We booted it in Safe mode and tried to do a system restore but it said system restore was infected so we couldn't even do that. It seems like the only option is to totally wipe it clean, but the OS came preinstalled and she does not have any installation discs or recovery discs. What can we do? If it helps, I have the exact same computer (these are school issued laptops). Can I somehow use files from my computer to restore hers provided we have her license key? I have an external enclosure so I can take her hard drive out if I need to, but everything I have tried to look at seems to say if you have XP and no software discs you are out of luck.

Any thoughts?

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Re: infected laptop

If there's no installation or recovery disc, there must be a recovery partition you can boot into to go back to factory settings. Read the manual or ask the IT-staff of your school. Or she should be able to order recovery discs from Toshiba.

It's a common thing to do: go back to factory settings, and it's surely possible by one of the 2 methods above.


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No recovery partion

This just occurred to me: The computers came with Vista factory installed; the school elected to install XP on them all before distributing them to us. So I don't think we have any recovery partitions (none that I could find anyway). Are we just at the mercy of the school's IT help? She was hoping to get the computer fixed this weekend so she could look at our lecture powerpoints and videos on it. From what I understand, there is no way to create an XP install disk from a computer with XP installed on it. Is she just stuck until she can get someone from the school to look at it?

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Yep, I'd say she needs school to fix this.

So the program for the weekend:
1. Look at the lecture powerpoints and video's together. That's what friends are for, aren't they?
2. Get her disk out, put it in an external enclosure and copy all her personal files from it to any other safe place. Depending on the amount of space needed that could be:
a USB-stick, your own hard disk (that's what friends are for!), her own external disk (she can buy one tomorrow), burn to a data DVD. Prudence says to have 2 backup copies (out of this 4).
3. Give her some friendly lectures about (a) anti-virus and other protection and (b) backup.

Make it a nice weekend together. She can be happy with a friend like you!


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malwarebytes in safe mode

To run malwarebytes in safe mode:
1) Download malwarebytes to a USB stick on your drive.
2) On her machine in safe mode with networking, attach the USB stick.
3) Install program, and run update of malwarebytes, then run program.

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