Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to repair Windows 7 - the other method

Updated: there were some mistakes in the original post, those errors were corrected and now I've wrote the correct solution.

Well, Bitdefender has done something I didn't expected to do: crash the Windows x64 based computers. Apparently, they forgot to include in one of the software updates, the module which verifies the signature of executable files.
So, as most Bitdefender solutions were updated manually or automatically somewhere on Friday or Saturday (March 19/20, 2010), they began to detect all executable files as a potential virus, although they were reported as "Fake.Virus". As a result, files from Windows, Bitdefender and every other programs accessed in that period of time, were quarantined.

I was surprised to see so many virus alerts on my desktop, and as a desperate measure, I've restarted the computer, because I have personal files I don't want to be infected or deleted/destroyed by the Antivirus. I didn't know at that time what happened and didn't have time to read and comprehend all alert messages, I thought that was a real virus.
Of course, I know what a virus is doing: mostly of them are infecting boot sectors and so the chances to infect other files are very much increased when the Windows is starting up.

Because of this, before I let computer to boot in Windows, I've booted with rescue disks and performed a copy of the operating system, in fact, a copy of the entire system disk with one of the cloning software. You can use Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, etc. to clone your partition or entire disk.

I didn't succeed to perform the cloning with my favorite Acronis True Image (remember, under DOS environment) because my computer was built with recently manufactured components/released technology, so the chipset and components detecting routines weren't able to load the cloning software without locking up the computer.
Was something odd, because hard disk, mouse and keyboard were detected at the boot, but when DOS software was loaded, the computer froze and not responding to input commands. This issue happened with many software under DOS environment, not just Acronis.
But when most software was not working, the file managers worked just fine.
Anyway, more on this particular issue in other posts.

So, after booting in a Mini Windows XP as a live CD, I was able to clone the system disk with Norton Ghost and save the image on a portable USB disk drive.

Now it's time to make some experiments. But first, disconnect from SATA cable the RAID disks I keep for data storage. Now I can play with the OS disk as much as I want.

1. I've tried to boot with Windows 7 disk, go to "Repair computer" and selecting the corresponding option, but when computer booted from hard drive, a black screen with some login related error showed up.

2. I've tried to boot from hard drive with F8 method and select "Repair computer". The same result: no luck.

3. I've tried to boot from hard drive with F8 method and select "Safe Mode". No luck either.

It was something that pissed me off. No chance to recover the OS which contains save games, other personal files, links, shortcuts to various software I use, etc.
I didn't wanted to install Windows again, but in the end, I did it several times.

4. As a desperate measure, I've booted from DVD again, and chose the "Repair your computer" option.

Wait for the "System recovery option" window to scan the partition and see the results.

Select "NO" here and "OK" in the following "Add drivers" window.

This is useful when you want to load SATA, SCASI, RAID, or any other drivers you want.
But in this case, when the "browse" or "open" window is displayed, you can perform the basic actions and the most useful ones: "copy"/"cut"/"paste".
This is a trick which I remember from Windows '98.

Yes, with the help of this window, you can access the disks/partitions - ATA, SATA, USB (last one only in Win 7, maybe in Vista also?) and save the files you want on external devices.

So, with the "open" window, I navigated to the DVD drive (hidden partition was accessible but I didn't want to lose any more time), and copied the System32 folder, into the "Windows" folder from the hard drive.

After selecting "yes" when it's prompting to merge the local folder with the one from DVD, THE REPAIR IS FINALLY DONE!

At most, I was able to boot from hard drive, and now, the login screen is displayed, with my account in middle. Of course, nothing is too easy, so when I clicked the account picture, it was saying an "incorrect password" message.
This was another thing that pissed me: I didn't had a password for this account.

The restart buttons were not working either, so I've performed a cold restart.
After POST, selected the "Safe Mode" (F8).

The login screen is displayed again, and when I clicked the account picture, surprise: login successful and desktop is shown with all icons and files and etc.

Went to "Control Panel", then "User accounts", "Manage account" and created a password for my account, which was the only one by the way, with admin rights.

After this, I've applied the Bitdefender patch to solve the fake virus alert.
Restarted the computer (warm reset this time eyelash), booted normally, and inserting the password when prompted in login screen.

WOW, that was the longest recovery ever and the trickiest one.
Finally, I am playing games and surfing the web.

Later: but, after patching and updating Bitdefender, I managed to activate the Parental Control and some alerts screens were displayed notifying me that some sites were block. Even after I deactivated the Parental control, I was unable to connect to those sites anymore.

Long story short: uninstalled Bitdefender (no sites connection), live assistance from Bitdefender without luck, installed again, Parental Control deactivated (still no sites connection), requesting live assistance from BD (still no sites), booted with XP live CD, installing the OS image, same issue with login screen, went in Safe Mode, User accounts, Create password, restart, boot, click on account picture, "incorrect password" message is shown, WTF!!!???? I had already created a password, are you nuts?, restarted, went in Safe Mode, User accounts, create another password, create another user account with its password, reset, booted, same "incorrect password message" with every account/password, WWWWWTTTTTFFFFF?????????

And now I have installed the OS image the third time (around 3:30 AM with a couple of sleep session before and after that).
I hope to recover the OS this evening and not touching the f*****g Parental Control again.
Let's pray toghether for this.notworthy biggrin

After 3 more image recovery, I managed to remember where I was wrong and: I forgot to update Bitdefender after initial System32 recovery.
Now, after patching, all is working fine.