General Question

MissAusten's avatar

Is there any way to fix this computer problem ourselves?

Asked by MissAusten (16067 points ) October 21st, 2011

Our computer is several years old. The other day I updated the Norton Antivirus software which is part of the Constant Guard program we get free from Comcast. The computer had been funky before that (slow, crashing often, etc), but when I tried to restart it after the update it got stuck on the “Windows is starting” screen. After a long while, I turned the computer off, waited, and turned it back on. It worked for a while, then froze up. When I again tried to restart it, it got to the “Windows is starting” screen and stayed there.

Is there any way to fix this? We plan on getting a new computer (luckily we have a laptop so we aren’t totally cut off from the world, haha) soon, but we’d like to be able to save some of the data so we can transfer it to the new computer. Will we need a professional at this point? Anything to get it up and running for at least a while would be extremely helpful.

I think it has Windows XP but I’m not 100% sure on that. It’s a Dell computer if that makes any difference.

Thanks!

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21 Answers

dk6hgsds9axe3's avatar

Norton – avoid at ALL costs

Start in safe mode, uninstall Norton and download and install a decent free anti-virus (Microsoft Security Essentials is good if your copy of Windows is kosher)

MissAusten's avatar

How do I start in safe mode?

dk6hgsds9axe3's avatar

Reboot your PC, and when you have the first screen (i.e text-only mode, before Windows starts) press the F8 key. You’ll get a text-menu, one of the options of which is Safe Mode. If it reboots through to Windows without this screen showing, you didn’t press F8 quickly enough. Reboot and try again.

Good luck

filmfann's avatar

I recently had a similar problem with my computer (caused by a virus), and had to restore Windows back to original settings. They said I wouldn’t lose any material, but I ended up losing all my photos and documents. I hope you can get to safe mode, and back everything up before having to do this.

MissAusten's avatar

OK, I will try safe mode in the morning and see how that goes. Thanks so far @dk6hgsds9axe3 and @filmfann !

dk6hgsds9axe3's avatar

Norton really is terribel for a PC’s performance. You really should try to get rid of it…

jerv's avatar

I use Avira for my antivirus needs, and independent tests show it to be far more effective than Norton; not bad for a free program!

After you boot into Safe Mode, I would uninstall Norton and put Avira in it’s place. Spybot Search & Destroy is good for other stuff, so I have that too.

For general speed up, I defrag with DeFraggler. That keeps the hard drive organized and optimized, and CCleaner fixes Registry issues.

I’ll try to get you links when I get home.

reijinni's avatar

@jerv, what do you think about NOD32 anti-virus?

Nullo's avatar

On one occasion (similar story, and I was messing around with HijackThis), I was able to use an Ubuntu Live CD to access my C:\ drive, enabling me to copy over my important data. If safe mode doesn’t work, you might consider trying this.

digitalimpression's avatar

I have to add my vote to the tally against norton. Norton is over-priced, bloated, and its simply not necessary as there are free alternatives.

blueiiznh's avatar

I run Norton on home PC’s and Symantec on severaly thousand PC. You may have a malformed installation.
Uninstall and re-install. The new Client (RU7) actually is a lot better on its footprint for the desktop.
Use the Comcast freebee as it is a world class product and far better than the free products. They are free for a reason.

Send specifics here or in PM if needed.

jerv's avatar

@reijinni I am not personally familiar with ESET, but according to AV Comparatives they are halfway between Avira and Norton in detection rates (99.6%, 95.1%, and 97.3% respectively), or on par with Avast! (also at 97.3%) so I think they are okay but not excellent.

@blueiiznh I will believe that when I see independent tests back up your claim. To date, the data I’ve seen doesn’t support you.

anartist's avatar

@Nullo were you copying windows/pc-based data or linux data? Gid the linux/ubuntu copy ms-dos/windows data in its original format without a conversion or “windows-window” interface?

@MissAusten Norton was great in the early 80s. Now there is abundant high quality FREE antivirus. Avira, Avast!, and Microsoft’s free Windows Defender [although it is irritatingly less transparent], and more. Check CNET reviews or MajorGeek

Nullo's avatar

@anartist I run Windows. The disk allowed me to select things on the hard drive and place them onto a flash drive. I didn’t try to open anything. My guess is that it was just moving data as it found it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Information can some times be recovered from crashed PCs by putting the HD in an external USB drive box.

jerv's avatar

@poisonedantidote True, but for a desktop system, I generally skip the USB box and plug right into the motherboard with the IDE/SATA cables. Figure, I’m already in the case removing the old drive…

As promised, here are the links:
Avira Free
Spybot Search & Destroy
DeFraggler
CCleaner

MissAusten's avatar

Such a relief—starting in safe mode and uninstalling Norton did the trick. I was then able to restart normally and also got rid of Comcast’s “Constant Guard” program. It’s annoying anyway. I downloaded Avira Free and will try that out. For now, the computer seems to be running normally. Still old and kind of slow, but the longer we can put off replacing it, the better!

Thanks so much for the help and advice here. Much appreciated!

Nullo's avatar

Irony: your computer works better without an antivirus program.

blueiiznh's avatar

@jerv that is fine. I have enough data in my environment that I don’t need to look outside for other data. I also have seen very few independent tests that are published that can include all the variables that go into an indepth evaluation of AVAS products. Gartner or Forrester are the only ones I would come close to putting my job on the line for when it comes to IT decisions. Even then, you need it running in your own environment. There are plenty of documented issues with Avira and as it is free you get what you pay for. The product just doesnt plan well with many other products and has a high level of false positives. Let’s review this in 4 years and see who is still in the game.

jerv's avatar

@blueiiznh Linux is free and has been in the game for quite a while, and a rather large number of people wanting secure and/or high-performance OSs run it instead of non-free alternatives, so I don’t judge on price, but on merit. As for Avira, it’s been around since 1988 (longer than Norton, I believe), so I don’t think that’s an issue.
Norton also has a history of documented issues, including many compatibility issues with common software. Also, I would rather have false positives than false negatives, but that is just me. Lastly, there is a difference between their home products and the Enterprise-level stuff that you use at your job.

blueiiznh's avatar

@jerv agreed, but there is a huge difference in the number of home uses that run a UNIX based system versus Windows. There are also a huge difference in the need for AV on a UNIX based system versus Windows based systems. I believe the OP stated XP, so I left my focus on XP. There really is next to no differencce in the AV engine, definitions, and heuristics between the home and business version. It’s all in the GUI and management side.

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