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Please help me recover my brother's PC

  darrowboat 06:22 21 Dec 2016


My brother has been having serious issues with his desktop PC. It is about 1 year old with pretty nice hardware. Windows 10. He games a lot and I think he might have tried to pirate a game and gotten a serious infection in the process. Here are the symptoms:

  • Several programs are disabled; cannot open at all or give error messages when trying.
  • Settings does not work - no popups, no error messages, just does not open no matter what I try (and I tried about 7 different ways). It does open in Safe Mode though, but some functions do not work.
  • Can open but cannot use any internet browsers - tried chrome and explorer. After opening they freeze and I must kill with task manager.
  • Alt + Ctrl + Delete makes screen go black. Pressing escape key returns it to desktop.
  • The windows key and button do not work or open anything.
  • I cannot use the mouse to click anything on roughly the bottom 40% of the entire screen. The toolbar does work though. I am usually able to get around this by dragging windows to the top or clicking something high then using arrow keys to move to what I need to click. Very difficult to navigate though.
  • Notification center does not open.
  • Cannot use system restore, system recovery, or anything else that would revert PC. They all start but stop shortly after, saying the PC was not restored/recovered, no changes made, etc.
  • When I try to open something that requires administrator privileges, it changes to a blank, dim screen with the wallpaper in the background, but no window pops up allowing me to accept or decline. There is only 1 user account on this PC. That's all I can think of for now for symptoms. Here is what I have tried to fix it:

  • Windows Defender. Updated definitions, then did quick and full scans. On both, the bar stopped moving forward (though # of scanned files kept increasing) about 1cm in. In safe mode, I did a quick scan and it reported no threats. Have not done a full scan in safe mode yet.

  • System Restore. I have tried every restore point. Each starts the process but stops quickly after, saying an error occurred and no changed were made.
  • Windows Recovery. Same thing as system restore.
  • Task Manager. I have gone down the list of all running processes and was not able to identify any that seemed out of place. I am no expert here though. I simply Googled the name of each to see whether it was considered a legitimate program or not.

I would really appreciate any help from anybody! I am willing to try anything at this point. My brother says he is ready to do a full system wipe if it means getting his PC back. Please let me know if more information is needed. Thanks.

  robin_x 08:13 21 Dec 2016

On a working computer, make a DVD or 4GB+ USB Flash Install with W10 Media Creation Tool. (use "For another PC option")

Boot and re-install W10 to C:\

All Apps and Programs will need to be reinstalled. Folders and Files are retained in c:\windows.old

Scan with Malwarebytes Free when done.


If problems or evidence of infection continue, repeat the Install but delete C:\ when asked "Where do you want to install Windows?"

Backup anything important first

You may need to fiddle around in the BIOS/UEFI to get DVD or Flash to boot before the Hard Drive.

  darrowboat 04:48 22 Dec 2016

Hi robin_x, thanks for the reply. I downloaded the Windows Creation Tool for the appropriate version of my brother's PC onto an 8GB USB flash drive. I tested on my laptop and it works perfectly. However, I cannot get it to boot on my brother's PC. I also tried burning a ROM onto a DVD. It will not boot that either. In both cases, it boots straight to the hard drive. Is there something I am doing wrong or some way to circumvent this? Thanks.

  robin_x 05:42 22 Dec 2016

Press whichever if the correct key when booting to get into the UEFI.

Then set the boot priority. Turn Off Secure Boot and any other safety settings.


Immediately after Power On, another F Key (or Esc or Del) should put you in Boot Menu, where you can choose the boot device directly

  robin_x 05:44 22 Dec 2016

Do you have a Make and Model for the PC or Motherboard Product Code if it is a Custom Build?

  darrowboat 06:18 22 Dec 2016

This PC runs on BIOS, not UEFI. There is no Secure Boot or other safety settings in BIOS. For boot priority, my options are:

  1. LS120
  2. Hard Disk
  3. CDROM
  4. ZIP
  5. USB-FDD
  6. USB-ZIP
  8. USB-HDD
  9. Legacy LAN
  10. Realtek PXE B03
  11. ASUS DRW-24F

I tried every single one of these options as 1st priority. I also tried going through the boot menu, with the same results.

Can't seem to find the model for the PC, but it's a Cybertron, not custom built. The MoBo is GA-78LMT-USB3 6.0. BIOS is Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG.

  robin_x 06:36 22 Dec 2016

Dunno, but I had a look at first few results here and there are some ideas (I didn't look at the YT vid)

  darrowboat 09:05 22 Dec 2016

robin_x - thank you for linking me to those results. That led to the answer I needed: plug the USB into a USB2.0 slot, rather than the 3.0 slots I had tried. After that, I made USB-HDD the priority and it booted up. Deleted the old Windows partition and did a clean install of Windows. All issues seem to have cleared up; will update if something returns.

Thank you for the help!

  robin_x 09:20 22 Dec 2016

Jolly Good :)

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