Look out for bootable media!

Last night, I booted my Windows XP notebook after it spent the day traveling in its padded bag – never touched, dropped, struck by lightening, etc. I had left a CD in the tray and it may have tried to boot from that — oops. Removing the disk and rebooting resulted in “NTFS.SYS is missing or corrupted.” Since the machine didn’t come with a rescue CD, I used Knoppix to boot the machine to examine the partition. Looking through the partition, the C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers directory is empty. That’s pretty unlikely a failure on Windows part – WinXP usually keeps several of these files open, and “Windows File Protection” prevents their deletion. Ran fine until I shut it down yesterday morning. Running S.M.A.R.T. utilities shows no errors on the drive. Running SpinRite right now to confirm there’s not a drive problem, then I’ll be restoring from a Ghost backup.

Reminder: don’t leave your computer configured to boot from devices you don’t want to boot from! UPDATE: Scanned the disk on a trustworthy computer with an up-to-date NAV, and it indicates no malware. Curiouser and curioser…

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.