Disk Drawer Double Bind
November 14, 2008 2:09 PM Subscribe
My friend's only Admin account on Windows has been ripped to shreds by a virus, an uninstaller program, or both; his CD drawer won't open or shut manually at all; and his BIOS settings, which are protected by a password we don't know, are to boot from a CD in the drive before anything else. Help me to not destroy his computer with an axe.
posted by Acheman to computers & internet (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a Mac user who somehow became the Tech Support for our shared house. (It started with showing a friend how to use a bittorrent client and is now way beyond my control.) For various reasons, one friend's computer never got the once-over, with new antivirus software etc., that I'd been meaning to give it. I thought 'Hey, he uses Firefox and hardly ever even downloads anything. Things won't go too badly wrong for the time being'. And boy am I regretting that now.
A couple of days ago, he came to me telling me that his five-years-old antivirus software had detected virus infection, and this was corroborated by the appearance of thousands of popup windows for a poker site. The antivirus told him it had deleted four viruses, but clearly hadn't - the popups continued along with some other strange stuff. He immediately shut the computer down and came to me.
When we started up the computer, the popups appeared to calm down to a manageable level. I decided to get rid of his old antivirus and install AVG. Here's where a couple of nights' terrible insomnia led to my making a mistake: I tried to do those two things in that order. After deleting a bunch of files Revo Uninstaller suggested I delete, I couldn't open any programs from his user account - I got messages saying that it was 'not authorised' to open them. Switching to the Guest account meant I was able to do anything the Guest account can do, but this didn't include installing AVG or repairing his Admin account. The Guest account started to be beset by popups after a few minutes and we shut down.
My friend still has his Windows XP pro CDs and doesn't have any important files he can't retrieve from email attachments, or any music that isn't from his own CDs. So we were all set to do a clean reinstall, until he reminded me about the CD drive.
Since he dropped the computer about six months ago, the CD drawer won't open or shut manually - it has to be opened using his DVD-reading software. Also, his BIOS settings are set to boot from the CD drive if there's anything in it, and always have been. This has already caused problems when he left a CD in the drawer before shutting the computer down, but after attempting to boot for about five minutes it would move on to the HD and all would be well again. Trouble is, this won't work when trying to reinstall Windows from the CD - as I understand it, it can and will just boot from the Windows installation CD again and again and again.
I'd already tried to reset the BIOS settings, but they're password protected and he was never told what the password was. (He got it as part of a government entitlement for disabled students, and so it came from some little outsourced office somewhere).
This weird little logic loop is most tormenting: I can't boot from the hard drive until I've removed the disk with the DVD software, and I can't remove the disk with the DVD software until I've booted from the hard drive.
Will a USB external CD drive work to install Windows from straight out of the box? Can I get a pirate version of Windows and install it from a USB flash drive? Is there some really simple, far less radical solution to this that I'm missing? I'm in way over my head with this, and keep coming back to fantasies about the violence I might enact upon this infernal devil-box.