Nov 26, 2010

the terror of losing your data *must read*

I’ve got the Asus G51JX for a few months now, and you know that I love it. But problems with it started I think about a two months ago, where I had my very first blue screen of death.

I know I’ve said to my review that I haven’t experienced one, but when I finally did, I thought, no biggie, I mean, my computer experienced a blue screen, like any other computers out there.

Second blue screen happened. I still think that it is normal, as maybe I need to clean up files and delete some unnecessary processes. So I did. multiple times.

But then the blue screen were still happening. From once a week, it happened twice a week, then almost everyday, to more than one per day. I know something is going on, but I still not worrying about it as blue screens interrupt me maximum of 5 minutes of my time.

Although now writing and thinking about it, I really had so many blue screens. My memory is filled with blue-colored darkness.

Anyway, most of the blue screens I got are pretty normal ones (if there’s any), but what I’m saying is, they all looked like this:

Usually when this happens I usually get an unresponsive system first, where you can’t click anything, and then the blue screen will appear.

But I got this error one time which is pretty unusual. It just says, “STOP: Unknown hard error.”
This instance I got no warning that it will happen. It just displayed this and about a few seconds it restarted itself. I said, well that’s strange. But my system got back normal.

The second time this happened was yesterday. Oh yes, here we go. I was watching some National Geographic special that tackles something about our brains listening to music, and that Stop: Unknow Hard Error happened.

It restarted, but then guess what? It is stuck on a blinking cursor. It’s not going anywhere.
Ctrl+Alt+Deleted multiple times nothing happened! It’s always stuck there. I know I had to do something, but I wasn’t that nervous, I don’t know why, but I am sure that I am not going to lose all of my data.

My first guess of why this is happening is one of the parts inside my laptop got loose, or worse, got fried. I searched for a screw driver and opened the back of my laptop. It’s my first time opening my laptop, and it’s interesting that I found some adhesive tape in there to make the wires running around in tact. It’s not that ugly, but it’s not that pretty as well. Made me question ASUS’s build practices a little bit, because I’m sure you’re not going to see that on a Macbook. (Yes, I just praised an Apple product.)

But anyway, no. I see no signs of burnt parts or anything, I removed some parts like the ram and hdd and put them back again.

I rebooted, and then nothing happened. I am seriously in trouble.
What I did next is I put the Asus recovery CD, hoping that jut some boot file was deleted on the machine. I am surprised to see that there is no repair options on the Asus recovery CD!

So I spent hours trying to find a Windows 7 DVD inside our house. Some DVD’s are incompatible with my laptop, and when I got the same version of Windows 7 repair disc that I burned with my mom’s computer, it says that it couldn’t identify what the problem was. Great!

I was left with no choice but to remove my hard disk and put it on a desktop and perform some back up. I’ve got 100GB+ of data on my hard drive (minus programs) and it was really frustrating how long it took to back up those files.

When I was on my way of backing up the files, the computer that I was using detected a threat. It was called “Trojan:DOS/Alureon.A.” Microsoft Security Essentials wanted me to restart, so I did, but then after I restarted it appeared again. I am confused what to do, I ignored it, as MSE has suspended me anyway.
After I removed my hard drive, get this, that malware didn’t show up. So I’m pretty sure that it is the cause of why my computer doesn’t boot up.
Further research of this trojan I found out that it can, in fact, cause blue screens of death. According to wikipedia:
Microsoft has confirmed that Alureon is the cause of a series of BSoD problems on Microsoft Windows systems which were triggered by Patch Tuesday update MS10-015.Microsoft will not install the patch on these systems.
It then made clear to me that this was the cause of my computer not booting because just recently, it evolved to something that can edit the master boot record. Here’s a bit of the article reporting about Alureon:
According to research published on Monday by GFI Software, the latest TDL4 installation penetrates 64-bit versions of Windows by bypassing the OS's kernel mode code signing policy, which is designed to allow drivers to be installed only when they have been digitally signed by a trusted source. The rootkit achieves this feat by attaching itself to the master boot record in a hard drive's bowels and changing the machine's boot options.
So after all of that, I got relieved that it was just a trojan. Because that means that I don’t have to buy a new hardware for my laptop. But still, the experience I had was really scary, specially now I did I fresh install and it would take days to make my computer the way it was.

Anyway, I hope that I have informed you to be careful, and be aware of this malware. I definitely have increased my User Account Control from now on, and maybe those warning boxes can be annoying, but it makes me safer, and I can deal with that.

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