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Problem bringing laptop up to working order
  #1  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:34 AM
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Default Problem bringing laptop up to working order

I've currently got a Dell Inspiron 1525 that I've had since 2008. I've intermittantly (sp?) had issues from the very beginning. I've had to do a factory restore more times than I care to think is even possible.

I'm currently in safe mode, just so that I can access email and check the news forums and get here to seek advise. It was working "fine" yesterday morning, after issues the night before, but I closed it, did some laundry and came back to check something on FB and started getting errors again.

It'll try to boot up, everything will look fine except the moment I try to click on anything, it locks up and eventually I'll get a message about security logon failure. Hubby googled the phrase and a microsoft help forum advised another user to go into safe mode, click computer and run a disc scan. I tried. Tells me it can't check it while it's in use . I'm seriously frustrated at the moment. I'm at the point that I need to just back up my emails (I have travel confirmations and such hanging there) and just do another restore. Besides getting detailed instructions on how to do that, I know I need to figure out the root cause of the problem (aside from the fact that it's a Dell.....I know, but it was a very thoughtful gift from hubby way back when...).

Can I backup my emails while in safe mode? And how? And then once I've returned the unit to it's original state, how would I go about restoring the emails?

I've run a virus scan (AVG 2012) as well as running TrendMicro's HouseCall. It almost seems like a virus infection, but neither are finding anything.

I've already had a mad fit and backed up all of my pictures to discs just 1 day prior to this latest breakdown since I had a tad bit of warning that it was coming.

Anyone have any suggestions for me to get started with? What other information do I need to locate to help someone help me diagnose/fix the problem? I hate to lose everything again as it was just about 3 months ago that I had to restore it prior.

Thanks in advance........

  #2  
Old 05-03-2012, 03:26 PM
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emax4 emax4 is offline
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Wow, certainly a lot of issues...

The first thing I would do is to back up what all you have to prepare for another (and hopefully a final) restoration, if you haven't done so already. Don't forget about Bookmarks, saved passwords, documents and photos, music, etc. Depending on what all you have, a flash drive might be sufficient, otherwise a separate hard drive is better. Don't forget about application serial numbers (if you got any from the Internet) and saved game files too. I have all my games on a separate hard drive, but certain games will put the user profiles on the same drive as the game files, but other games put them on the same hard drive as the operating system.

For emails, most of them should be on whatever email server your host provides, but if you have saved emails to your hard drive, you can back those up manually. Do you use any type of Cloud-based storage service, like Dropbox? Maybe look into something like that. Some of them are free and give you a limited amount of storage, but still makes backup a breeze (no pun intended).

The next thing i would do is create a new folder on the backup drive and label it "Dell Inspiron files". I looked up your model and found the website for the drivers here:

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/19

On this page, the files are for those using Windows XP. If you're using Vista 32-bit, select it from the drop-down menu, and the files should then change to those users using Vista 32-bit. You'll see entries like BIOS, Audio, chipset, etc. These newer files are updates that provide stability, security, or general enhancements to the files from the original Install or Restore CD/DVD. Once you have the necessary files downloaded (some files are for specific hardware options that may not be in your model) and everything backed up, go ahead and restore the operating system to its factory state.

Once it's back to that state, disconnect from the internet and start loading those dell Inspiron files one by one. This will bring up those files to the most recent update providing stability, security, or both. From there, you can go back on the internet and test it out, then see if you can get emails again.

As far as the root of the problem, that varies. the browser can sometimes make an impact. I prefer Firefox over Internet Explorer, but IE is starting to slowly get a better reputation. Sometimes Chrome is a much better browser as it's in a "sandbox" type environment, which separates itself so that if you somehow get any type of virus, most likely your other files on your laptop wont get affected. It doesn't protect you against phishing or similar actions though.

Make sure that your Anti-virus software is up-to-date with the most recent files as well. Some AV software won't work well with others, so if you're using multiple brands, maybe temporarily de-activate one while installing the other. Some AV will detect some things that others will not. Look into MalwareBytes Anti Malware while you're at it. There are free and paid versions of this.

Keep us updated.

  #3  
Old 05-03-2012, 11:18 PM
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Thanks for your detailed response, emax4. I'm fixing to embark on this journey one more time. Hubby is telling me I should go ahead and upgrade to Windows7 after I'm back up and running. I'm currently using Vista. I love the way it looks currently and thought I loved the way it works. However, I'm seeing that this has been a POS since I've had it. I really didn't want to admit it, I think because it was a special order, custom designed, just for me by DH. He put a lot of thought into each add-on that he'd ordered with this machine.

All email is downloaded into Windows Mail so my teen is going to help me get that backed up. I thought I'd go ahead and attempt to print the travel reservations that I needed, but in safe mode, I can't find the printer nor install one. Something about a bad image.

So, once more, here I go. DH is setting up his so that I can get back on here if I have questions or problems.

  #4  
Old 05-04-2012, 02:31 AM
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I am back up and running. Still searching for options to import my email backup. Teenager backed everything up to my thumbdrive, but the import function doesn't work. I installed all the driver updates before I got back online. I've gotten the latest version of AVG and am currently installing the malwarebytes program. I still have to update windows. I'm hoping that with all the updates completed, hopefully tomorrow, I'll be able to concentrate better on getting the emails backed up.

It feels like I've been run over by a Mack truck right now. I'm hoping I can finish up soon and then get to bed.

  #5  
Old 05-04-2012, 04:10 AM
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emax4 emax4 is offline
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Glad to hear the good news!

Not all laptops are POS. I'm a Mac person, and even we have issues at times. Before you upgrade, check to see how your system ranks with the minimum and recommended system requirements for Windows 7. You may keep the laptop as is and find out that Win7 may look sexier, but slows it down based on its higher requirements. On the flip side, you may look around and find parts to add that aren't expensive and add value, and find out the laptop is worth holding on to. You can also do both and get to enjoy the newer operating system and having the comfort of knowing the parts you add aren't going to waste.

Feel free to ask more questions and such. You've got a lot of experienced people here to help you. Oh, and me, too! haha.

  #6  
Old 05-04-2012, 04:24 PM
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barcode barcode is offline
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Quote:
Luna Baby
Dell Inspiron 1525 that I've had since 2008
I'll get a message about security logon failure
It almost seems like a virus infection, but neither are finding anything.
What other information do I need to locate to help someone help me diagnose/fix the problem?
"I've got a bad feeling about this..." - Han Solo

Okay, so I have my cousin's Lenovo sitting by my right elbow waiting for a new hard drive. I have a funny feeling that you're going to be shopping for a drive, too. How did I zero in on this?

For ease of use, I took the drive out of the Lenovo and hooked it up to one of my machines that has a current virus checker (Avira) and scan it. Like you, my scans showed bupkiss. Next, I run MBAM, and again, bupkiss. Huh. So, I throw the drive back in, and manage to get it to run it's own MBAM scan - and it froze. On the file "netlogon.dll". Hmmm. Ran Avira, and it, too, locked on netlogon.dll. Double-Hmmm. Did a check, and that file should be ~350K for the 32-bit version, and ~500K for the 64-bit version. The one there was 550K. Triple-Hmmm.

Like everyone else on the planet, I was first going to blame Vista (64-bit on this Lenovo). And secondly blame Vista. And thirdly blame Vista, question Gates' parentage, send Ballmer a really "interesting" e-mail, and then see if Waste Management is as green as they claim. Then something in the back of my head just clicked... I took out my UBCD and booted it up.

Note: This CD is so freakin' essential to anyone trying to fix, test, or build a computer. Everyone should click, download, and burn this baby out to a standard CD (even an older 650MB CD will work, with room to spare!). All the utilities run from the CD, so the HD isn't being used (so you can run any/all tests), and minimum RAM is used (for RAM checks).

I copied the two versions of the dll over to the drive, intending to rename the old one and use the new ones, fearing that the file was compromised by a virus. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum... the file was now being reported as 750K! WTF!?

The next thing I do is run "Memory --> Memtest86+" to see if it's got bad RAM. It passed. So...

The next thing I do is boot PartEdMagic, which actually boots a version of Linux (either DSL or Knoppix-based) that runs entirely from RAM (only 192MB needed!). Once the OS is loaded, I first use the "gSMARTcontrol" to examine the hard drive (click on the HD icon and run "Tools -> Run Tests". Select the "Short" test first (~2 min), and if you have the time, run the "Long" test (~1-2 hrs.).
Note: The Self-Monitoring And Reporting Technology (SMART) is a system built into drives that keeps track of any current and pending problems, such as a motor about to sieze, a bad controller or buffer RAM, or bad spots on the drive platters.

Bingo! Even though I looked at the logs kept for the Hitachi 300GB drive, which showed no errors, ran the short test, which also had no errors, it was the long test that bombed at the 40% mark that showed what was wrong. As it happened, the very spot that file was sitting on has a problem, and is corrupting the data being read (and misreporting the file size!). So, when you restore your drive back to factory, something else gets shoved in there and it takes a while for you to use the file, now corrupted, that gets written to that spot. If it's a dll, you'll most likely get a lockup/BSOD. An exe will just bomb, and any data will just be hinky.

Quote:
Luna Baby
click computer and run a disc scan. I tried.
Tells me it can't check it while it's in use
Actually, you can! What happens is Windows will write a command in the startup to run a full scandisk (actually a "chkdsk") on the next boot. You then close things out, select "Restart" from the power-down menu, and go grab some munchies or watch a show while it scans. It then removes the command when done, and boots normally. That is, if the command isn't sitting in the spot that's bad...

Whew! So, that's my guess, and the reasoning behind it. Download the UBCD, burn the image (instructions are on the site), run the tests, and see if I'm right.

barcode

Another Note: Be careful with the UBCD! Running tests is almost always okay, and most of the programs will warn you of any potential data loss. Looking at something is typically harmless, but since UBCD has programs that can, and will, scrub your drive clean (to near DoD specs!), it can make for a very bad day. You have been warned!

  #7  
Old 05-05-2012, 06:26 PM
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Thanks, barcode! That's a lot of information for a non-techie like me, however, my teen DS will most likely know exactly what to do with it. I'm currently up and running, but because it has taken forever to get all of my updates/upgrades located and installed, I've not been back to check in here. I'm actually running really good for now. Thank goodness! I was having FB and CS withdrawals really bad! I even took a chance at work and check in here one day. Hopefully, it didn't get noticed.

I'll have the boy look at the information you posted and get everything lined up for me.

My issue now is that while we were able to back up all of my email to a thumbdrive, I am having issues importing it back in. If I attempt to do the import, it reads nothing on the drive. However, I can go into "computer->C:drive->removable media" and it shows all of my folders and "stuff" in there. DS loaded a Kernel EML Viewer so that I can actually see the emails. We just haven't been able to import them back in.

I feel so dumb sometimes. I'm all good if it's plug and play, start, or anything else easy, but if I have to get into anything very technical at all, I lose it. I'm lost......

Thanks again, to those of you who have checked in on this and have been so kind to help me out. It's great to know I have somewhere to turn to.
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