Monday, August 29, 2011

Filter drivers

For several years I had been following this Microsoft knowledgebase article when a customer's system had trouble with optical drives. Most of the time removing the filters as suggested in the article is all that is necessary to fix the customer's system, but every so often I run into a problem that this does not fix. I used to be frustrated by those rare occasions until I cam across this post by the creator of the excellent dial-a-fix utility. After reading it I have come to better understand how to deal with windows filter drivers. As an aside DJLizard is working on a new version of dial-a-fix and I can't wait for it to be released.

As always anyone in the Waco or Central Texas area who still needs help with computer problems feel free to come G&A Computers at 608 N. New rd. Waco, Tx and we will be happy to take care of your computer for you.

If you're in Waco, Tx G&A Computers can help you with all of your computer repair needs. PC, Mac, all computers repaired.

Dell factory restore when pc recovery is missing

I have worked on several dell machines with vista and windows 7 that for whatever reason don't have the dell factory restore option in the repair console. It is still possible to perform a factory restore as long as the restore partition is intact. I found this blog post and while the steps in the post do work I found that the steps posted in a comment to the post works even better.

Anonymous said...

that didn't work for me, but the following command prompt line entries did:

path d:\windows;d:\windows\system32
d:
cd tools
pcrestore

Please keep in mind that this only works for dells with windows vista or windows 7. If you have a dell with windows xp and are having trouble running the factory restore I suggest you read this excellent website.

As always anyone in the Waco or Central Texas area who still needs help with computer problems feel free to come G&A Computers at 608 N. New rd. Waco, Tx and we will be happy to take care of your computer for you.

If you're in Waco, Tx G&A Computers can help you with all of your computer repair needs. PC, Mac, all computers repaired.

Acer netbook powers on to blank screen

Some time ago a customer brought in their acer netbook that was powering on but not posting. I initially thought the netbook was toast, but I stumbled into a blog post by someone who had found out that the acer notebooks have secret process to upgrade and install the bios.  This fix may not work for every acer netbook, but it got my customer's netbook booting again.

 For posterity I will quote the entire post below.

Acer Aspire One BIOS Recovery

The AA1 has a built-in BIOS recovery routine, making it possible to flash the BIOS even if the system doesn't boot anymore. It's only meant for emergencies and may void your warranty, so use at your own risk.

Follow every step carefully!

First format an USB stick with FAT.

Download the latest BIOS, and put both FLASHIT.EXE and the BIOS file in the root directory of the stick. Rename the BIOS file to ZG5IA32.FD, that's important. Do not remove the USB stick.

Turn the AA1 off, make sure both battery and AC adapter are connected. Press Fn+Esc, keep it pressed and press the power button to turn the AA1 on. Release Fn+Esc after a few seconds, the power button will be blinking. Press the power button once. The AA1 will now initiate the BIOS flash, do not interrupt it under any circumstances. After a while the power button will stop blinking, and the AA1 will reboot shortly after. Wait patiently.

The BIOS has been flashed and all settings reset to default.

If for some reason you made a mistake during the procedure and it doesn't reboot by itself wait 5 minutes before turning it off, just to be safe that it isn't still flashing the BIOS.
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The BIOS is now also available from Acer european server. There is actually a text file included which recommends to flash the BIOS from DOS via a bootable USB stick.

Also available from here if above does not work
BIOS 3310 • Download

For anyone in Waco or Central Texas who still needs help with computer problems feel free to come G&A Computers at 608 N. New rd. Waco, Tx and we will be happy to take care of your computer for you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Virus and spyware removal

In this post I will provide a brief overview of how I remove viruses and spyware from a computer.

Warning: This post is intended for people who are already familiar with virus and spyware removal procedures. You can damage your files and software. If in doubt; go no further.

Software

I keep these files on a thumb drive and a network share. I have batch files created for both A squared and Avira that updates, scans, and saves a log.

The Process

First boot the computer into safe mode. Run hijackthis and remove suspicious items, if you don't know what to remove leave this alone. Next run ccleaner to clear temp files and prefetch. Install and update malwarebytes and spybot but don't start scanning yet. Start super portable and update if necessary, don't start scanning yet. Start A squared and avira, with my batch files they do everything without input. Now start super, malwarebytes, and spybot. The scans will take some time, about two hours on a newer system and as much as eight hours on an older system. Once the scans finish remove the infections found and restart the system.

Now in normal mode run combofix and let it work its magic. Next run ccleaner, this time remove and sketchy toolbars and software; then use the registry cleaner. Now make sure that Windows and any anti-virus software is up to date. I also use a ninite installer to update adobe flash, adobe reader, and java. At this point about 95% percent of computers will be clean and working properly, but of course there are some infections that require a more specialized approach.

Closing Thoughts

This is a very brief overview of the process I follow to remove viruses and spyware, it has evolved over the course of several years. There is no one "right" way to remove infections and you should be wary of anyone who claims there is. I have noticed on several forums that many people have a perception of combofix as being a panacea and that if combofix doesn't remove everything you should just reinstall. If you ascribe to this notion then you should save yourself 10 minutes and just start reinstalling immediately. Combofix is a great tool and has come a long, long way over the years. The reason that I use combofix last is because when it first came out combofix would break about 25% of the systems I worked on and I only used it as a tool of last resort before I reinstalled the operating system. As combofix got better I started using it more often, but always last, and I guess old habits are hard to get rid of.

For anyone in Waco or Central Texas who still needs help with computer problems feel free to come G&A Computers at 608 N. New rd. Waco, Tx and we will be happy to take care of your computer for you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First post

I am starting this blog to document some the fixes I find while working on my customers' computers.  The main purpose of this work log is to give me a repository of links and fixes for issues that I think I might like to remember and if it helps someone else so much the better.  Most of the initial posts will be for things from the past so there will be many posts from the same date at first.

In my next post I will start this thing off by explaining the process I use to remove spyware and viruses.