Vista stuck in boot cycle; how to kill some start-ups?

Discussion in 'Gaming and Software' started by 4(T), Jul 17, 2009.

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  1. PC is a two year old Dell XPS with Vista Business - all updates current. I use it as a games machine so, although it has an internet connection, its relatively "clean" apart from game software. I do have a Steam account active.

    I use Systemsuite 9.0 (SS9) for maintenance and anti-virus, but Vista for firewall.

    PC working normally, PC stops working normally:

    About ten minutes after last switch on, a couple of SS9 messages flash up to say that "x" was a known threat and was being quarantined. Messages too quick to see the details, but one mentioned a Steam file, and the other appeared to be a normal system file. Almost immediately, I experienced the Vista BSOD for the first time...

    I cannot now get a stable boot-up. The PC now cycles endlessly through one of about three different scenarios: (1) crashes to BSOD from any one of the "safe modes" selected; (2) randomly shuts down and re-starts from anywhere in the boot sequence, but with no BSOD; or (3) runs through the "start-up" repair sequence, boots up to normal desktop, gets almost stable but then SS9 kicks in, blocks two files, and the whole thing goes tits up again.

    In case (3), I desperately load task manager and try and race to disable anything that might be causing the crash. I can exit steam and a few other things, but cannot identify the SS9 process. The desktop is functional for about a minute before it crashes - and will not load any selected programmes or settings - hence hard to deactivate SS9 or other start-up programmes.

    I have tried the recovery disk to repair (ie haven't gone as far as re-install yet), but this just leads to (3) again.

    BSOD lists the code "0x000000F4". Web searches show that this is a generic code that can cover many different faults, so its not much help.

    One problem with Vista is that it is very hard to tell when the initial boot-up has finished - my machine thrashes the disk continuously, with no indication what it is doing. I think my "blocked" files just happen to be normal drivers being loaded - rather than a trojan or something hostile - and it is this that is causing the system shutdown. Unfortunately, because I can't achieve "safe mode", I can't interrupt the normal boot process to try and disable the SS9 protection.

    Any ideas how I can get out of this mess without a complete re-format (balls-ache to repeat all the activations, updates and settings - to say nothing of my game saves...). I'd like to disable start-up programmes like SS9 outside of the boot-up, but can't see a way to do this if safe mode is not working.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. Don't know about Vista but on XP click on start and when the menu pops up type in 'msconfig' into the RUN box [no quotaion marks] a menu will pop up and there is a tab to the right hand side called 'START UP' click on this and it will list all programs that start up on boot. Look for any dodgy applications and disable them by unclicking the box then try a reboot .. be careful you don't uncheck any systems files
  3. msr

    msr LE

  4. The Avira rescue CD is quite clever, but it didn't find anything suspicious.

    The UBCD looks promising but, as my spare machines are XP, I'm a bit wary of letting the UBCD programme download/transfer a load of Vista files into the donor PC to make up the boot disk - with my luck i'll end up with two fecked PCs....
  5. In my experience (12+ years) of this sort of thing, you might get it fixed but it's never going to be "right" if you get my meaning.

    If you don't have anything you absolutely need to keep, flatten the whole installation, reformat (booting from the Vista DVD) and reinstall.

    The HDD constant readwrite you mention is indicative of some serious issues which will escalate into a severe clusterfcuk (no pun intended)

    As said by msr, get a proper AV suite - AVG free is perfectly good for most users.
  6. I tried several rescue disks, but none provided the facility I needed to kill a few of the start-up programmes and services. Irritatingly, Vista would not allow me to run MSCONFIG from a command prompt because of "insufficient rights" - even though it was an Administrator command prompt I was working from.

    Eventually I managed to "run" MSCONFIG inside the one minute or so of stable Windows that resulted from each boot repair run through. After about ten attempts, I got fast enough to switch off and "apply" all non-Microsoft services before Windows went to BSOD. Ureka! No crash! Then I was able to disable SS9 "active protection" and restore all the other services. After a bit of Registry fixing, everything seems completely stable and happy. The HDD constant activity is an annoying Vista feature (I've disabled pre-fetch, indexing, etc) which I'm sure does lead to disk errors.

    I know SystemSuite is a bit weak, but because it comes with multiple licences I've always used previous versions as an easy-to-use maintenance package that helps me provide remote IT support for the laptops I've provided to PC-phobic Mother (UK), Father (Spain), Ma-in-law (Russia), and Aunt-in-law (Ukraine)! I do use Spyware Doctor as a back-up, but SS9 seems perfectly ok at keeping things clean.
  7. OK - got to the bottom of this. Useful heads-up, as it seems my problem is hitting quite a few people at the moment.

    My antivirus was quarantining "C:\Windows\system32\services.exe" (which naturally enough then fnucks Vista), apparently mistaking it for the "services.exe" appearing elsewhere in the system which is one of the symptoms of the W32.Ahker.B@mm group of viruses. Looks like this virus definition is being promulgated through recent anti-virus updates, and that this is then triggering the mistaken ID in a number of anti-virus programmes.