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07 November 2008

Hope me! There seems to be a black hole living in my computer, eating any files that come near it. I've run antivirus scans and more, but still can't figure out what the hell's going on. [More:]

This is a WinXP machine, with a firewall and anti-virus installed.

Last weekend, my computer didn't want to come out of "sleep" mode, and I had to reboot. The reboot took a ridiculously long time, but it finally came back up. When it did, my music folder was missing about 14,000 MP3s and WMAs... less than 200 were left.*

I've updated and run AVG (which I plan to ditch for another anti-virus program soon), Ad-Aware, and Spybot several times each, and Spybot found one "suspicious file" (not a cookie) and removed it.

Now here's the thing: if I put anything into my music folder, it just vanishes. I've tested this by creating an MP3 or a TXT file on my desktop, and dragging it into the folder... poof! It's gone.

Other weirdness: I've tried to start up a game (The Sims 2), and the game loads, then stops before getting to the point where you can play. It doesn't freeze, it just never finishes loading. This has just started since the weird reboot on Sunday.

Also, and I don't know how long this has been going on, but I can't use the "Add & Remove Programs" thing in the Control Panel. The window opens, but the list of programs will never populate. I can't say for sure this wasn't happening before last weekend, since it's been months and months since I tried to uninstall anything.

Does any of this make sense to anyone? Any ideas on likely causes, or what I should try next? Any help would be appreciated... I'm afraid to do much on my computer until I figure out what's happened and how to keep it from happening again.

*This is bad, but not jump-off-a-bridge bad because I have most of them in my MP3 player, and can copy them back from there.
This is a symptom of Windows' general philosophy of regarding a "file system" as a sort of carnival game like the thing with the soda bottles and the ring on a length of string.
posted by Wolfdog 07 November | 11:40
Other than suggesting a clean re-install, I can suggest comodo products which are free and pretty good. Download and see if they can find anything.

My boss is a great one for getting loaded up w/ all kinds of stuff because he doesn't practice safe computing at all. We ditched AVG, spybot and adaware recently because he had another virus. Loaded comodo products and have been OK so far....

When it gets too technical, we have to call in our local guru to clean up things and this is what he suggested using.

And, I'm so glad to hear that you haven't lost all of your music!
posted by mightshould 07 November | 11:44
Since it's somewhat related to your music and video, check out your driver and reinstall it to see if it's simply a problem there?
posted by mightshould 07 November | 11:47
This could be a hard drive issue.
Run a chkdsk before doing anything else.

I also think it's unlikely that it's a spyware or virus.

good luck.

posted by seanyboy 07 November | 12:15
Thanks for these suggestions, guys... I'll try both the chkdsk scan and running a couple of Comodo scans when I get home today.
posted by BoringPostcards 07 November | 12:49
I second seanyboy's suggestion of doing a disk diagnostic. Do it immediately, the longer you wait the more chance you have of a catastrophic failure. Do you happen to know anyone with a copy of SpinRite? If the drive comes back okay, then back up and format, if Windows is that broken, don't even bother trying to fix it; take off and nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
posted by King of Prontopia 07 November | 12:51
Ack, sorry man. /non-advice
posted by danostuporstar 07 November | 12:52
Backup your essential files before doing anything else, including any scans.
posted by DarkForest 07 November | 14:21
I'm with seanyboy. Check your hardware.
posted by Eideteker 07 November | 14:34
Hmm. The onset of this problem coincided with the arrival of a bunch of booze-soaked reprobates who commandeered your house for a day or so. So the answer is clear: this is all somehow Terry's fault. (Most things are.)
posted by BitterOldPunk 07 November | 14:37
Naw, BOP, this isn't bunny-related.
posted by BoringPostcards 07 November | 15:16
completely shallow fashion-related Friday post, come inside for girly-talk! || Diagnosing Chuck Klosterman.