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Son's computer frozen with LimeWire? and Task Manager!!!

by clueless1 / July 17, 2006 9:38 AM PDT


My 15-year-old son recently performed some ?computer expert? functions on his Dell 3000 running Windows XP that has left it completely useless. Although working relatively well, he evidently got rid of something some time ago that has forced him to disable Norton Security in order to be able to connect to the internet. He?s using Mozilla Firefox. Whether that contributed or not is unknown to me. Regardless, he just installed media management software from Sony for his PSP, and went in to LimeWire to download some additional files that he desired. Turns out the file was a ZIP file, so he opened it using Winrar. The file contained a .exe, so he opened that and tried to run it. Immediately, a ?corruption, program must be terminated? alert came up.

After realizing that there was a problem, he went back to his LimeWire library, and deleted the zip file. He also believes that his Task Manager wasn?t working, but he was not aware of it at the time. At this point, every time he attempted to exit LimeWire, it continually kept restarting the LimeWire window. He eventually had to manually turn off the computer. He then went into program search, and found seven files with LimeWire in the name, and deleted all of them. At that point he felt everything was okay. When he realized there was no Task Manager, he then went on to Google and searched for forums relating to his problem. On one of these, there was a suggestion to download two things: AVG and Hijackthis. After finding AVG, he downloaded this first. The system then seemed to lock up on him, and no matter what he did resulted in the message, ?Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access them.

After this, I pulled up the hard drive owner?s manual. It suggested that I run a ?quick system check? after starting up with the F-12 key. I did this, and received the following message: IDE device failed: Blank Media or no Media in optical drive.

It also suggested that I go into the control panel, and try and see if any hardware or systems had a yellow circle with the ?exclamation point? in them. However, trying to do this resulted in the message: Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access them.

This message is now the result no matter what I try and do. Clicking on internet explorer; trying to start Word; changing speaker volume, etc. EVERYTHING results in the same error message. Lost, I called the Dell help line, which of course patched me through to a woman in India. Despite the language barrier, I went through a lengthy series of attempts while she read from her screen prompts. She repeatedly told me that I needed the password to get into the system as System Administrator. After starting up in Safe Mode, I was prompted to log in either as my son?s name or as system administrator, and there was no password required. After clicking on ?administrator?, the screen goes black, and then ?safe mode? appears in all four corners. However, a window pops up for about one second or less, that appears to have a ?continue? or ?exit? on it, and then immediately disappears. I don?t have time to read what it says, as it vanishes too quickly. The screen then returns to the black with the corner ?safe modes?, and essentially sits frozen. I have no choice at this point but to manually shut the computer off. After failing to be able to help me re-format the drive and start from scratch, the worthless Dell people told me that the computer is two weeks past the one year warranty and feel that it is a hardware problem, and my only option is now to either go to a fee-based (read EXPENSIVE) assistance line, or to contact a local computer repair person.

Is there software such as RegCure, RegistryFix, etc. that can help? I am apprehensive, as I don?t believe that there is any way to get downloads to the computer anyway. I can?t even GET INTO it yet! Can anyone help?

Thanks in advance,


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More info
by phantazy / July 17, 2006 10:09 AM PDT

You do not say if how you tried to recover, that is what method. Do you have a Dell recovery disk, or is Windows on a secret partition? Or do you have an OEM CD version of windows? Strange to say, but this matters to help those who would advise you of the next step. If you have the CD I would advise using the Recovery Console with a few suggestions. This also assumes that the CD Drive is still recognised. What does the Bios set up show? This is usually F10 on power on for a Dell, I believe.

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by PKsteven / July 17, 2006 10:33 AM PDT

My suggestion would be this, as the other reply stated, you don't mention the re-install method you tried, so please fill us in on if you have restore disks, partition restore, etc....Limewire is bad news and I say this from helping countless people who downloaded garbage in one form or another and caused their pcs to go balistic (so to speak). You probably have some virus\Trojan running around on your system among a ton of spyware, but that is just a guess. I can't say to do much at this point except to get a knoppix or windows live cd and get your information off the drive before a repair\reinstall. But if there is a virus etc...running rampant, you risk transferring it right back to your pc if you are able to aquire it. It's hard to say at this point but tell what restore method you tried, or if you have disks or not.


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sounds like an infection (not hardware)
by linkit / July 17, 2006 3:42 PM PDT

After this is fixed, get one firewall, one antivirus and at least 2 andispyware protrams on that computer. There are many decent free versions.

About Limewire:
(Asking for trouble, IMO.)

Download antivirus and antispyware (very important) utilities and the latest accompanying definition files from a working computer. Install them on the infected computer.

If you have a current subscripton to Norton Antivirus, you can download and install those definitions manually, too.

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If you decide to go the ''complete re-install'' route.......
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 17, 2006 7:24 PM PDT

With a Dell shipped after July 16 2004, (Aug 30 2004 in Europe), you have a protected recovery partition on the hard disk.

Access to the recovery utility is via the keyboard immediately after the BIOS loads when you turn on the computer.

DELL instructions here Dell Support.

Part 2 is about backing up your data beforehand, but it seems likely that you will not be able to backup any files, from what you say in your post. So beware, everything will be lost and the computer will be returned to factory settings as when you purchased it.

Part 5 includes the instructions for accessing the recovery options.

I will say, briefly, about Limewire and other P2P file transfer programs. I do not want to belabour the point as you and your son have already suffered the problems caused by P2P. But, when your son disabed Norton's Internet Security, (including the firewall and anti-virus protection), he left his computer completely open to malicious and infectious software when he downloaded files through Limewire and then opened them without virus checking them first.

It may even be that the virus infected file was from a commercial software producer, seeding P2P servers with such in an attempt to protect his software from piracy. Not a very nice thing to do, but many people will feel this is justified in the battle against illegal downloads of copyrighted material.

It's a harsh lesson to learn.

But enough of my rantings. Good luck if you decide to go this way and re-install XP.


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More about Limewire
by dwalmz / July 17, 2006 10:05 PM PDT

Was his version of Limewire a legitimate one? The free version (that is bundled with adware)? The Pro version (stand alone, no adware)? Personally, I don't think it was Limewire but moreso what he downloaded and opened up without running it through a virus scan! I say this because I've been using Limewire for years both (free & Pro) versions and have never had one problem! I suggest you do a system restore.

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Further information from Greg
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 18, 2006 5:42 AM PDT

Lately we have seen a lot of posts that become "New Discussions" where they were meant to be replies to existing threads. One explanation is that the user attempts to reply when not logged in, and the forum software creates a new discussion, but there may be other reasons.

Anyway, Greg said this in a new discussion which I have now locked.


Don't have any disk...

Phantazy, Comicfan, Linkit, and Markflax,

Thanks for the rapid responses. I am definitely going to take preventive measures once (and if) I can get the PC up and running again. I have previously installed Adaware SE, and have run Spysweeper from a CD before. I'll also try Spybot S&D, Ewido, etc. to catch & destroy bugs. However, that's a step further right now...

I do NOT have any hard disk for the PC. It was shipped almost exactly one year ago (through Costco), which would make it about July, 2005. I looked through the documentation, and included with it was a paper simulated CD that stated something to the effect that, ''you do not have (need) hard disks for this computer. To perform vital functions, utilize the owners manual on the desktop of this PC''....

I am aware that I will probably lose all data on the PC. However, a 15-year old has essentially nothing of real value on there except his i-tunes (which can be transferred back via his i-pod), wallpapers, AIM junk (no e-mail for the ''in crowd''), PC games and associated attachments, etc. As it is summer, he has no important schoolwork, and there is also essentially no photos, documents, or anything else. What he has (had) can be replaced with a little effort, so I'll take the data loss hit if needed.

According to the linked article from Dell, I am supposed to use F-11 on start up. I'll check when I get home, but it seems to me I tried F-11 during the maligned call with Dell-New Delhi, and had no success. Better yet, I'll get my teenager out of bed, and walk him through it on the phone....

Thanks, I'll post an update.


Posted by: clueless1 (see profile) - 07/18/2006 5:47 AM

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So now what?.....
by clueless1 / July 18, 2006 7:47 AM PDT

Just utilized the ctrl F-11 function, and did a full restore on the hard drive. Everything appeared to go smoothly-I got a message that it had completed, all the data was lost, etc. It then prompted me to click "finish" so the system could reboot. I did so, and the screen went black. It stayed completely black, and never came back to Windows. I finally had to manually UNPLUG the tower in order to shut it down. Powering it back up got me through the Dell screen, through the Windows XP screen, to.....yet another blank screen.

Is the fact that I have installed an Nvidia upgraded video card affecting anything? He also has a new wireless keyboard and mouse which plugs into the standard port as well as a USB port.

Where do I go from here?

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Next step
by farhansyed / July 18, 2006 4:20 PM PDT
In reply to: So now what?.....

You don't say what kind of graphics card you installed, but on the inexpensive Dell computers, they use a really cheap motherboard with no AGP slot and 3 PCI slots. Depending on what graphics card you attempt to use, and what version of the BIOS is on your system, it may be difficult to disable the onboard graphics and get your add-on card to work.

In addition, on certain cheap Dell computers, they used a really poor quality hard disk, called the "Dell Value Hard Disk", OEM'd by Maxtor. This particular hard disk was available as a 40-gig or 80-gig, and for some reason it always develops bad sectors or functional problems right after the 1-year warranty ends. On such systems, Dell disabled the S.M.A.R.T. function in the BIOS, which would provide advanced warning of a hard disk developig excessive bad sectors. The updated version of the BIOS will re-enable that feature.

In any case, I woud first try removing the graphics card and see if that will help. Most likely it will not, as I think the problem is with the hard disk, or the so-called "recovery partition" on it.

Even though your computer is outside of warranty, you can still order a set of recovery CD's from Dell, though you will have to pay about $35 for them. Once you have the CD's in hand, you can proceed to the next step.

If you ordered your computer with a floppy drive, AND your hard disk is 120 gigs or smaller, then you can obtain a copy of the Windows 98 startup floppy disk, boot up from that disk, and use FDISK to delete all partitions on the hard disk. Then you can create a new Primary DOS partition and reformat the hard disk.

If you don't have a floppy drive, then look inside the computer to see what brand the hard disk is and go to that manufacturer's website. You will be able to download an ISO (CD image file) and use that to create a bootable CD. Put that CD into the Dell computer, boot from it, and use the utility program to delete all partitions on the hard disk, run diagnostic tests on it, and create a new primary partition and format it.

If the hard disk formatted to completion, without any errors or funny noises, and there were not any bad sectors, then proceed to install Windows XP. If there were any problems formatting, then it's time for a new hard disk. Every week, major electronics retailers like Best Buy are running very good "loss leader" sales on hard disks, so it shouldn't cost you very much to replace it.

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Things may be looking up
by clueless1 / July 18, 2006 10:22 PM PDT
In reply to: Next step

Man, the knowledge you guys have......

Anyway, last night we removed the Nvidia graphics card, and re-connected the OEM card. Rebooting did indeed bring up the setup screen. My son was ecstatic, and set about going through the setup and registration screens. As it was late, I went to bed while he was searching his room for the Linksys software to re-install his wireless internet connection. I'll talk to him this morning and see what progress he made. If he was able to get it connected and running, then I'll set about downloading some protection/detection programs for securtiy.

Stay tuned, and thanks for taking so much time to help.


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by MarkFlax Forum moderator / July 19, 2006 12:59 AM PDT

Well done to the two of you.

I'm no technical expert, eg with video cards etc, but once you have the system back to factory setup, I bet you can re-connect the Nvidia card and XP should be able to reinstall it ok. Or if not, and you had a disk with drivers that came with the card, you can use that.

Anyway, good work with getting the machine back to working order.


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by PKsteven / July 18, 2006 5:26 PM PDT
In reply to: So now what?.....

Unplug\take out the video card, enable onboard in CMOS, typically 64 mb you will see it as, then reboot. You can always reinstall the card. Just a hint, no need to unplug the tower, simply hold the power button in for about 10 seconds or less Wink


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