Another dead box

I managed to kill my Windows internet machine yesterday. Thats keeps my average at 1-2 dead machines per year. I’ll hold my hands up and admit its quite often my own fault.

I’m not keen to take the blame for yesterdays adventures though. I virus scanned the machine (with Zone Alarm, (rapidly losing its status as my fave AV)), it claimed one .dropper virus and quarantined a file. It also said I should delete the file, so I did – doh!

I won’t be so trusting next time!

I know this is a software thing and not hardware because its a dual boot, and it runs fine in Linux.

I have another machine that died last year, I have just left it gathering dust because it really looked like a hardware fault. Today it dawned on me that if it runs a live Linux CD then it can’t be a hardware problem and is probably another broken Windows installation.

So here I am in Firefox on Ubuntu edgy eft, no blue screens in sight, which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that I have 2 broken Windows installations not 1.

So, hot tip: use a live CD as a quick check of hardware health.

And a question, Whats your preferred Anti Virus?

(And/or whats your preferred internet pc (and/or development pc) setup?)



11 Responses to “Another dead box”

  1. Jon Peltier Says:

    My laptop blue-screened on me yesterday, for the first time in the 14 months or so I’ve owned it. It’s never run “perfectly”, but it’s very reliable. It’s WinXP SP2, and I must say that my 3 computers running XP and my wife’s one have always been pretty reliable, at least OS-wise. A hard drive or CD player occasionally has gone south, but even the time two laptops were submerged in a flood in the kitchen, after a couple days under a fan, both started right up. Computers and operating systems, yes, even Windows, have become pretty durable over the last decade or so.

    I think the best AV product I’ve used has been AVG by Grisoft. Completely unobtrusive, never takes control of the computer away.

  2. gobansaor Says:

    I use XP/SP2 (with latest updates), standard XP firewall, MS Defender, Free Avira AntiVir for the ‘family pcs’. For my business laptop I use CA’s anti-virus product (about Euro20 a year). For the kids machines I also use the free but excellent K9 filtering software, highly recommended it if you have a young family.

    I also occasionally scan with Hijackthis and send the result to This is quicker than doing a virus scan and is also a good way of learning what should and should not be running on your pc. It’s also my prime tool for helping ‘family & friends’ with their virus scares.


  3. Ross Says:

    Hijack this can be very dangerous use with caution (when removing files)

    I always though Zone Alarm was a fire wall? I use AGV too, very very good. Also use ad-aware 6 and Spybot-S&D both excellent. I use Sygate FW, again excellent, very configurable. I always found Zone Alarm a bit goofy. Surprisingly, given some of my internet haunts I have never had any problems with viruses etc.

    My Acer lappy fell over last month, i think it’s a heat thing but I’ve not opened her up yet to take a look.

    My work PC is a dog of a thing… It’s got 1gb Ram, and a 1.6(?) centrino, with a 14″ screen, only fit for word processing reallying, try running a big LP model on the thing and you’re in for a wait. That what happen when secretaries order your laptop before you arrive at the company!

    Happily the girl that sells the coffee is most agreeable!

  4. gobansaor Says:

    I wouldn’t classify HijackThis as very dangerous (at least no more dangerous than Excel, just don’t press the RED button ;-)) .

    I wouldn’t recommend it to my granny, but then neither would I recommend Excel VBA programming.

    Knowledge is power but as we all know power corrupts (in that case a backup – the best anti-virus protection of all – and a re-build are what’s required).


  5. Dennis Wallentin Says:


    I use Ubuntu as my main o/s on the developing machine and with vmWare I run Windows 2000/XP/Vista.

    I’ve got a hardware security setup including AV tools and other nice tools. So far it works very nice and the Linux platform is less subject to threats then Windows is which makes me feel more “safer”.

    Kind regards,

  6. Simon Says:

    Well I’ve had a few freezes with my Live CD, so I think this one is a proper hardware prob.
    Windows fails intermittently but within a few minutes, but the CD thing is much better.
    Anyone got any ideas what hardware prob might cause the installed os to be worse? I was thinking PSU, now I’m wondering if its a HD prob?
    I suppose I should hurry over to a hardware forum before it crashes again!

  7. Marcus Says:

    I’ve got Zone Alarm Pro which I used to be very happy with, but more recently have found it becoming more intrusive. Occasionally there’s Internet connection problems which I suspect is ZoneAlarm but can’t prove. However it is amazing what a reboot can cure.

    I try to pre-empt hardware failures mainly where data is concerned. I tend to replace the hard drives in my desktop every couple of years.

    I’ve just purchased a new primary dev machine (woo-hoo), a Toshiba Qosmio. It’s a ex-demo model so I picked it up half-price. While it’s geared as a multi-media machine it’s got everything right for development in a laptop: 17″ screen, twin 100 gig HDD’s (with RAID) and plenty of grunt.

    Cheers – Marcus

  8. Ken Puls Says:

    I have a Toshiba laptop running Windows XP Pro (SP2). It’s an old P4 3 GHz and came with 1GB of RAM. I slapped another gig in there, and now the stupid thing overheats on a far too frequent basis. Very frustrating…

    Simon, I was going to say that the Linux CD might be good for testing some hardware, but if it’s a disk problem, it wouldn’t touch it. If your hard disk is flaky (or going), I can see that it would cause some issues. Maybe all it takes is trying to hit the file that is stored where the disk failed? I’m not a hardware guy, granted, but it sounds like a reasonable guess. Of course, if you’re seeing similar issues with the Linux CD, then it may not be the disk at all.

    I remember we had one user in our company whose XP laptop died semi-regularly. We spent too much money testing memory, disks, motherboards, etc…, and never found anything. Even reformatted and after a month he started having similar issues again. (I know think it was a PEBKAC issue.)

    As for Virus software, I use NOD32. I’ve actually been very happy with it. It seems quick and unobtrusive. I found that Symatec seemed to hog the machine, while AVG kept giving me notifications that it downloaded things. (Fine, but why do I have to click okay?)

    As for firewall software, I don’t use any beyond the built in firewall. I’m always connected behind a router, though, so it’s not much issue.

  9. Harlan Grove Says:

    Disk is more likely to be the problem, but if Linux running from the CD is also having problems, flaky memory chips could also be a cause. Not sure what nondisk system diagnostics come on the typical Live CD.

  10. MikeC Says:

    I’m with Jon P on the AV side, I’ve been using AVG for years and have always been very happy with it. It’s also free, and they also offer anti-spyware, anti-adware and lots of other gubbins on a free basis (they do a pay for “professional” version, but I don’t know anyone who uses it)

    web site here

    OT: Ross – I find that ANY person giving me coffee is agreeable!! =;-)

  11. Simon Says:

    Harlan – looks like you were right – some crappy RAM. see next post.

    Ken I thought it might be overheating too (it might be!) I’m sitting here with the side off the box, havent tried putting that back on yet. I hadn’t discounted operator error either! I didn’t realise adding more RAM would affect heating, I guess it makes sense now you mention it. I sit my laptop on a heat dissapating mat thing, dunno if it works (maybe the folks that sold it me are pointing, laughing saying ‘look, he’s ACTUALLY using it!!’)

    Dennis that is the exact set up I aspire too, I just need to tidy up my dev machine set up (its 60Gb of mainly duplicate huge s/s) and use Acronis to convert to virtual, and get a Linux distie that works on my Sony.

    Thanks for the advice folks, I’ll definitely take up some of the firewall/AV suggestions. Probably should do that sooner rather than later!

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