Eeeek need computer help ASAP!

Friend has an old Dell Inspirion laptop which he says has been running slow as shit lately. I asked if he has any spyware/virus protection - he has none.

Long story short, I installed the latest version of Spybot S&D where after doing a scan it prompted me to reboot to get rid of the remaining crap (and there was a lot of crap!).

After rebooting I can no longer get into Windows. When I get to the login screen the machine reboots itself. I can’t even get into Windows via safe mode and now I have one pissed off buddy.

WTF happened and how can I fix it? Is this indicative of a hardware failure or some nasty spyware that refuses to leave the machine?


Using last known good configuration worked but does that mean his computer is still going to be infested with the nasty stuff?

If it’s an old enough system, he may actually have the Windows setup disk. You can attempt a repair install.

Boot from the CD, go through all the screens until it finds the existing install. You should have an option to do a repair install.

If said option doesn’t exist, just stop there.

If the system only has a restore partition, you may be out of luck.

You can also get a commercial antivirus program that lets you boot from the CD and continue to clean the system out. But I don’t know if that will cure the boot problem.

His system may also be full of dust and the CPU is overheating and previously it was only enough to throttle the speed down and now it is enough that the CPU is halting to avoid melting. I suggest disassembling it and taking all the dust out of it that you can find, especially anything in the heatsink/fan or copper cooling system over the CPU. If disassembling it is not an option, compressed air might help a bit.

I’ve seen the dust/overheating thing happen more than a handful of times on friend’s laptops, especially ones from the era when people were sticking P4s in laptops.

I can’t tell you how many spyware infections I’ve removed where the system subsequently couldn’t boot into Windows. Not booting into safe mode is a rarity though - At that point, you’re looking at a repair installation for starters, a full reformat if that doesn’t do the trick.

The problem with fixing spyware infections is that sometimes legitmate portions of Windows end up broken as a result of the removal. Then the whole Jenga tower comes tumbling down and you’ve gotta hope that there’s enough useful information there to allow you to put it back together.

In my experience, about 9/10 spyware infections can be cleaned up with no need to reformat, and without excessive labor. That final 10% is going to be way too many man-hours or is simply beyond hopeless.

That’s assuming this isn’t hardware failure, like CCZ suggested.

If it’s not hardware failure, format+new install is recommended with a huge infestation.