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Computer problems: an email transcript
My cousin sent me an e-mail asking for my help with a computer problem. Since I was at work and couldn’t make a house call to New Jersey, here’s how it went after several messages and some editing:
ME: Well, long distance diagnosis is tricky, what’s wrong?
HIM: When I boot up my laptop, chkdsk [Checkdisk] gets stuck in a loop and I can’t get out of it unless I turn the laptop off. I can’t even run in safe mode as it freezes. Also, how do I turn off chkdsk from start-up?
ME: Chkdsk scans the files on the hard drive for errors and when it finds them, it tries to fix them. I need more info. What’s your laptop brand and how long have you had it?
HIM: Let’s see, Dell Inspiron 6000, had it for 1-1/2 yrs.
M: What Windows version is running and what’s the service pack number?
H: Windows XP with Service Pack 2
M: Does chkdsk usually start on boot up and was everything running OK before the problem?
M: When did chkdsk start looping?
H: Just recently after I got a blue screen with chkdsk message telling me to dump files.
M: Did you add, remove or change any software or hardware?
H: Don’t believe so. My son has been using it and he might have downloaded music or something. I don’t like it when he uses aim [AOL Instant Messenger]. Seems like the problem actually started when he was using the machine. There’s also a message about corrupt code 176 in file 10732 or 0732 file. It’s hard to read while it’s endlessly scrolling.
M: AHA! Viruses may hide in AIM, spam email and downloaded programs and files. These are common ways of transmission. Make sure your security software (anti-virus, anti-spam ,anti-spyware, firewall) has the latest updates. Try running the security software from the CD to see if it catches anything.
On the hardware end, your hard drive may be failing if you hear clicking, the motor speeds up, then slows down, etc. This is serious and needs immediate attention.
H: If all else fails, I guess I’ll wipe drive and reinstall Windows XP.
M: Make sure you have backups of your files [and programs] before you do that.
You might want to check out this company computeroverhauls.com. A few people told me they did a good job in getting rid of the junk programs and speeding up their PCs. You can bring it in to them or go for the remote tune-up. Let me know how it turns out. Good luck.
I forgot to ask if he wrote down the Blue Screen message(s)? Sometimes there is a clue there. I searched the Internet for that corrupt code file but didn’t find anything.
Well, I gave it my best shot. I haven’t gotten an answer so I assume things are back to normal.
Wait a minute. If his laptop wasn’t working, how did he send me those e-mails?