Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Troubleshooting a uninstall gone bad

Today I was doing a little maintenance on my daughters Gateway laptop, uninstalling one ant-spyware program and upgrading another to real-time protection. It seemed to go fine, I ran the Uninstall from Programs and Features in Vista and enabled the full time protection in Malwarebytes with the registration codes and rebooted. When the computer shut down I noticed it installing several updates, I didn’t think much of it at the time but when the machine restarted, the brown stuff hit the fan. I didn’t have any mouse! The trackpad was totally unresponsive so I plugged in a old USB trackball mouse, success! So I clicked on the admin account I keep on the machine and went to type my password, nope the keyboard didn’t work either. So I rebooted after plugging in my usb keyboard. Windows went through its usual routine and told me the keyboard had installed and was ready to use, except, it wasn’t. It wouldn’t work at all.

Basically I was hosed, I couldn’t run the device manager from the limited account, or do a system restore. I had to get into the admin account or I was stuck. So I did what any red-blooded geek would do I Googled “resetting a password in Vista”. I came up with usual Microsoft solution, you know the one where you use the password reset CD you made when you set up the com-pu-ter, yep that one, the one no-one ever makes! Fortunately for me I also found a reference to TRK or the Trinity Rescue Kit. TRK is a Linux based bootable CD, that can be used for resetting passwords, recovering files and a few other things relating to Windows calamities. It took a few tries, TRK is command Line based tool and none of the instructions worked exactly as they said they would. Once the CD booted normally I ended up typing winkey u admin, this started TRK searching and mounting all the files in the system. I choose 2/enter in the next dialog then typed an * confirmed with a y, and this created a new administrator account with no password.

I was able to log into the Administrator account and then began the next phase of fixing the corrupted drivers. This took a while longer than I anticipated, I tried deleting the trackpad and keyboard in Device Manager , both had the little caution signs next to them indicating a damaged or corrupted driver, rebooted but this didn’t work. I finally resolved the problem but using a restore point, fortunately you can get there with just a few clicks of the mouse. So I got lucky, the USB mouse worked and the TRK worked after some trial and error. Get the Trinity Rescue Kit here http://trinityhome.org/Home/index.php?wpid=1&front_id=12, I recommend it for your toolkit, it definitely saved my bacon.

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