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Windows Installation plagued with problems the whole way

Last response: in Windows 7
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July 18, 2013 4:29:05 PM

Hello everyone! I've got an issue occurring whilst trying to repair my niece's Inspiron 1545 Dell laptop.

Well I'll start from the beginning, she once had a terrible malware virus that really corrupted her computer. She couldn't browse the web safely, as the browser would redirect her to terrible websites and prompt her with many ads. Eventually the computer started crashing and showing BSOD and eventually the computer just can't boot without showing a BSOD.

She tried system restore: Nothing. She tried factory reset: Nothing.

So she's brought the computer to me, I've reformatted the HDD and now I'm trying to reinstall Windows 7 64 bit onto her computer. Everything looks great except that we've given it 2 attempts and at this very moment we're on our 3rd attempt.

So what's happening? We've ran into a plethora of hiccups during the installation process.

On the screen where Windows 7 was installing itself and we had:

Copying Windows Files...
Expanding Windows Files...
Installing Features...
Installing Updates...
Completing Installation...

We get past the first 4 steps with flying colors, the computer restarts itself and proceeds to continue with step five; Completing Installation... During this part the computer seized with a BSOD and then restarted, I'm given the option to start Windows normally so I do that as it's all I can think to do, the computer continues at the last step and begins the setup process as normal! Whew! We thought we were in the clear though I was suspicious because it's working on the third try with no explanation of why? Then at the end of that, the computer seemed hung up on "Finalizing your settings" it got through that and then suddenly...

"Windows has encountered a critical problem and will restart in one minute, please save your work now."

Weird, so the computer restarts and boom we're at a log in screen like the computer is perfectly fine. Weird again... We log in with the SN and PW and wait a while, it's been really slow through this whole process. The desktop finally happens and THEN...

"Windows Explorer has stopped working"

It tried restarting Windows Explorer twice and then it eventually gave up and asked if I wanted to close Windows Explorer, I obliged because I figured it may restart itself again but nope, we now have an empty desktop wallpaper with no toolbar.

So I held down the power button and restarted the computer manually.

The computer boots up normally, we enter the SN and PW again and the screen says "Welcome" it loads, it fades to black and freezes...

We've been plagued with problems this entire process. Does anyone have a clue what might be the problem? I wonder if it's a hardware issue but I know all this was started by a nasty malware virus so I find it hard to accept that it's hardware related alone. It's just at this point, I'm at a loss for conclusions, would anyone else have any experience with this issue? Thanks for any help and I will select a best answer.

Further information, the virus was existent on the computer for about a year prior to this repair attempt if that makes any difference.
July 18, 2013 4:48:01 PM

UPDATE:

We've started the computer in safe mode and I was able to load a copy of MalwareBytesPRO onto it, I started a full scan and MalwareBytesPRO froze at 40 seconds in. The mouse is still movable though...

UPDATE:

I did the ol' ctrl alt del move during this, the screen tried to load it and then I got this error message in a window:

"The instruction at 0x000007FEFC1D5474 referenced memory at 0x000007FEFC1D5474. The required memory was not placed into memory because of an I/O error status of 0xc0000185"

and now we have a black screen.
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Best solution

July 18, 2013 4:57:04 PM

It's most likely a memory fault. That is also the easiest thing to replace. You might find that you have two memory modules, so you can try one at a time. Otherwise you would have to borrow or buy one.
If you have really formatted the hard disk for your Windows installation, the virus is gone.
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July 18, 2013 5:02:46 PM

baladin said:
It's most likely a memory fault. That is also the easiest thing to replace. You might find that you have two memory modules, so you can try one at a time. Otherwise you would have to borrow or buy one.
If you have really formatted the hard disk for your Windows installation, the virus is gone.


I figured the virus was gone. You're talking memory modules, are you meaning RAM?

So this definitely sounds like a RAM issue? I mean, now that I'm thinking about it, it is having symptoms that make the RAM suspect.
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July 18, 2013 5:51:03 PM

Yes, there is a cover on the back of the laptop which contains the RAM. There are usually two slots, but maybe only one of them will contain a module. You might be lucky and find that you can try one module at the time.
It also "definitely sounds like a RAM issue", but it's not a certainty. Realistically, it's the only thing you can replace.
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July 18, 2013 5:56:38 PM

baladin said:
It's most likely a memory fault. That is also the easiest thing to replace. You might find that you have two memory modules, so you can try one at a time. Otherwise you would have to borrow or buy one.
If you have really formatted the hard disk for your Windows installation, the virus is gone.


baladin said:
Yes, there is a cover on the back of the laptop which contains the RAM. There are usually two slots, but maybe only one of them will contain a module. You might be lucky and find that you can try one module at the time.
It also "definitely sounds like a RAM issue", but it's not a certainty. Realistically, it's the only thing you can replace.


There were 2 modules of 2gb RAM. I've taken them out and replaced them with a 1gb and 2 gb stick of ram. The computer booted up in bios and successfully recognized 3 gbs of RAM now installed. I tried running the computer normally but it was acting funny as usual. Now I'm going to attempt to install Windows 7 from the beginning with the 3 gbs of RAM installed from the beginning. Wish me luck. As a note, I can also replace the HDD as it's removable.
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July 18, 2013 6:23:03 PM

UPDATE after transplanting 3 gbs of RAM into the laptop:

While preparing the desktop a window error popped up and said:

Winmail.exe - Bad Image- and wouldn't you know it, the screen fades to black as I'm trying to write it down here... D: Darn.
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July 18, 2013 6:23:26 PM

OK, you're right, the hard disk can just as easily be replaced. It's a possibility a little further down the the list.
I would have just tried using one of the existing memory modules, rather than introducing two(2) new variables. Just keep it simple. Windows 7 will run fine in 2 GB, even in 1 GB for that matter, even the 64-bit version.
But now you're on the way.
Another thought: If you get ANY kind of error or unexplained happening during installation, that is a bad sign.
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July 18, 2013 6:59:01 PM

I'm on the desktop again, it's capable of picking up the wifi signal in the house and suddenly again, Windows Explorer has crashed. I'm beginning to want to know how to diagnose and fix this habit of Windows Explorer crashing as that seems to be the main problem now.
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July 18, 2013 7:08:55 PM

Retrowire said:
I'm on the desktop again, it's capable of picking up the wifi signal in the house and suddenly again, Windows Explorer has crashed. I'm beginning to want to know how to diagnose and fix this habit of Windows Explorer crashing as that seems to be the main problem now.


Is that with the 3 GB ?
How about using one of the original 2 GB RAM ? No need to re-install right away. Just see what happens. If ANY error occurs, try the other.
Windows Explorer crashing is just one of the symptoms of this fault.

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July 18, 2013 7:25:29 PM

baladin said:
Retrowire said:
I'm on the desktop again, it's capable of picking up the wifi signal in the house and suddenly again, Windows Explorer has crashed. I'm beginning to want to know how to diagnose and fix this habit of Windows Explorer crashing as that seems to be the main problem now.


Is that with the 3 GB ?
How about using one of the original 2 GB RAM ? No need to re-install right away. Just see what happens. If ANY error occurs, try the other.
Windows Explorer crashing is just one of the symptoms of this fault.



I'm not sure if I see the reason behind using one of the older ones for the sake of error checking when I'm using 2 completely new sticks that are right out of a well functioning laptop. If I'm using 2 completely new sticks and I'm still getting the errors, then it's not the RAM right? What do you think?
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July 18, 2013 7:51:06 PM

I don't disagree with your reasoning, however ...
This is how I see it.
Your laptop is playing up. Could be any kind of fault, hardware, software, virus, etc. You have re-installed Windows 7 from scratch (twice ?), excellent move, I would have done the same. But the fault is still there.
Now I would have removed one of the RAM modules. That takes what ? 30 seconds ? Try the laptop, surf the web, etc. See if it plays up. A plain, clean Windows installation should 'work', no excuses for ANY errors. So as soon as I get one, I try the other memory module. Any error now would make a memory fault unlikely but not impossible. Maybe you should install Windows 7 from scratch each time you replace memory, because let's face it, bad memory could certainly corrupt the operating system. But that's a pain.
Now you have taken 3 GB out of your laptop to try in your daughter's laptop. Not a wrong move as such, but like I said, you introduced new variables. For me, the mix of 1 GB and 2 GB would have been a no-no in any kind of troubleshooting.
However, as you say, this works fine in YOUR laptop, therefore it should work in anybody else's.
At this point you believe it CAN'T be bad memory. So what's next. Buying a hard disk ? What else is there to replace ?

Please let me know if you want some help with this problem.
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July 18, 2013 8:04:10 PM

baladin said:
I don't disagree with your reasoning, however ...
This is how I see it.
Your laptop is playing up. Could be any kind of fault, hardware, software, virus, etc. You have re-installed Windows 7 from scratch (twice ?), excellent move, I would have done the same. But the fault is still there.
Now I would have removed one of the RAM modules. That takes what ? 30 seconds ? Try the laptop, surf the web, etc. See if it plays up. A plain, clean Windows installation should 'work', no excuses for ANY errors. So as soon as I get one, I try the other memory module. Any error now would make a memory fault unlikely but not impossible. Maybe you should install Windows 7 from scratch each time you replace memory, because let's face it, bad memory could certainly corrupt the operating system. But that's a pain.
Now you have taken 3 GB out of your laptop to try in your daughter's laptop. Not a wrong move as such, but like I said, you introduced new variables. For me, the mix of 1 GB and 2 GB would have been a no-no in any kind of troubleshooting.
However, as you say, this works fine in YOUR laptop, therefore it should work in anybody else's.
At this point you believe it CAN'T be bad memory. So what's next. Buying a hard disk ? What else is there to replace ?

Please let me know if you want some help with this problem.


Well I would like help with the problem as this is my reasoning behind posting in a tech support forum. I'll try reinstalling Windows 7 with one stick of the old 2 gb RAM at a time to check for errors and I'll let you know how it goes. Til' then, I'm still looking for answers.
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July 18, 2013 8:19:59 PM

Installing Win 7 takes about 20 minutes. Once should be enough. But you should not tolerate any errors during or after installation. In other words, swap the memory as soon as an error occurs. Then you have pretty much eliminated RAM as a cause. Especially since you have also tried your 3 GB set.
But what's next ?
A faulty hard disk is possible, of course, but you probably haven't got a spare one in stock. You could try a Linux distribution running from a USB stick to build confidence in the remaining part in the laptop - the main board. Let's see what happens with the memory test first ...
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July 19, 2013 4:45:18 AM

Today I'll be swapping back in the old RAM and trying to reinstall Windows 7 with only one 2 gb stick of RAM installed at a time to see if only one of the sticks is corrupted. I'd appreciate any advice along the way as I'm not quite sure this RAM is the issue alone.
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July 19, 2013 5:45:06 PM

Retrowire said:
Today I'll be swapping back in the old RAM and trying to reinstall Windows 7 with only one 2 gb stick of RAM installed at a time to see if only one of the sticks is corrupted. I'd appreciate any advice along the way as I'm not quite sure this RAM is the issue alone.


That's the best way. As I said above, this shouldn't take long, especially if you get an error during the install phase.
If so, that would eliminate RAM as a cause, in my opinion.
That means you have a bigger problem, but let's wait and see ...

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July 19, 2013 6:30:49 PM

So my nephew happened to have a laptop with a burned out mobo, but it's HDD was fine. After noticing the HDD on my niece's laptop kept failing diagnostic tests, we narrowed it down to the HDD. So we transplanted to HDD's and boom, all is well. Thanks so much for your help Baladin, your process of elimination has helped us plenty.
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July 19, 2013 7:04:55 PM

That's great news!
I thought the RAM was the most likely, but I was wrong. A lesson learned, maybe.
Luckily the HDD is easy to replace, too.
I'm glad that it all worked out.
All the best.
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