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View Full Version : Can a Virus Damage a Motherboard?


Wheelie
08-27-2008, 04:55 AM
I cannot even believe I am posting this question! But obviously I need help.

Customer called Monday: "Kathryn's PC won't boot - just freezes - can you come look at it?"

I get there - it will boot in safe mode - but it freezes on the Windows logo during boot up.

Go back into safe mode, MSCONFIG, turn everything off (no viruses seen), clean out all the temp folders and temp internet files folders under each user profile, check system32 folder for rogue crap (zero), and reboot. PC freezes again.

I am busy as heck this week so I tell customer i have to take back to shop for further work (probably a data backup and Win reload).

Get to shop - run MEMTEST86 24 passes - OK
Run CHKDSK/r - OK
Try to boot again - freezes
WTF?

Remove 512 MB PC3200 CL3 (that just tested good) and replace with brand new 512 MB PC3200 CL3 - Try to boot - freezes at exact same spot.

Smart idea! - put in new brand hard disk and see if I can load fresh copy of Winders XP. Gets through format, begins copying files, finishes that, autoreboots, begins installation and at exactly 37 minutes to complete it freezes! Try again 2 more times and it freezes at exact same spot! (37 minutes). Flash Dell BIOS from A04 to A07. Freezes on boot using old drive at Windows logo, freezes on Windows reload at exactly 37 minutes. No change! Stick in a brand new power supply. Still freezes at same places!

I declare motherboard bad.

Right then I get a phone call this morning from same customer: "now Merideth's PC won't boot - it freezes at the same place Kathryn's did"

I am: "what?" :confused: then I am: :mad:

I went down later in the day and picked it up and brought it back. Same exact deal. Not a single thing above is different with this one.

Both these PC's are identical and were purchased at the same time from Dell and have sequential Service Tags.

Any thoughts?

Bryce W
08-27-2008, 05:26 AM
Its possible. Old viruses like CIH (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIH_virus)can edit the BIOs. However, I'd say its more likely that a surge got the two computers.

TimeCode
08-27-2008, 05:59 AM
That is SO wierd. Have you tried running anti-virus or diagnostics tools from a Boot CD? Can it even boot from that? If the HD is SATA have you tried an IDE HD or vice versa? I have NO other suggestions for you.

Sorry Bro! :confused:

NYJimbo
08-27-2008, 06:12 AM
A few years ago we bought several barebone machines from Tigerdirect. About 9 months later one blew its caps, one week later another blew its caps, two weeks later the third blew its caps.

Identical machines MIGHT have the same issues, but who knows what is bringing it on. As Bryce says it could have been a power thing. Could be anything thermal too that cooked both machines.

koonter
08-27-2008, 06:25 AM
check if you can remove the windows logo that comes on after post (with the progress bar) and instead display the drivers windows calls when its loading up. you might find its getting stuck on a driver.

tho that wont explain why its occurring on different HDs.

hawks5999
08-27-2008, 09:29 AM
also try to boot the pulled hard drive on a different machine. did you check to see if the Dell warranty expired yesterday? :D

Wheelie
08-27-2008, 07:54 PM
Its possible. Old viruses like CIH (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIH_virus)can edit the BIOs. However, I'd say its more likely that a surge got the two computers.
I tried a brief look through Google and I could not find anything definitive on a virus damaging a motherboard. I'll look a little deeper. I pulled both drives, slaved them up to my bench PC and performed online scans at Kaspersky and came up with zero. Neither of the users reported any strange behaviors before the PC's tanked.

Both PC's had surge protection. One had a APC UPS with built-in surge. The other had a surge protector/power strip (not sure of brand).

Where things stand: I have 2 identical PC's from the same office that freeze at the exact same spot in the middle of loading Windows XP despite having new RAM, new HDD's, new power supplies, and flashed BIOSes (is that even a word?).

This is too weird ....

I am installing 2 new PC's for them tomorrow. The hard part is explaining to them what happened. http://k41.pbase.com/u13/cmnoa/upload/38389046.dunno.gif
They want to know "if there's something in the network" that will cause further damage or is this it?

NYJimbo
08-27-2008, 08:31 PM
I recall in the past there was a virus that could blow out a CMOS setting or flash a BIOS or something. I doubt this happened in this case, but I know something like that was out there.

seedubya
08-27-2008, 09:21 PM
Someone mentioned it earlier, CIH, the Chernobyl virus...

thecoldone06
08-27-2008, 09:36 PM
What other devices do they have in their network other than those 2 PC's?

Wheelie
08-28-2008, 12:16 AM
What other devices do they have in their network other than those 2 PC's?
It's a law office. W2K3 Server, 3 printers, 7 PC's total. All other PC's are doing fine. Everyone's on surge protection and/or UPS.

Wheelie
08-28-2008, 12:18 AM
It's just weird that both PC's freeze with exactly 37 minutes to go on the install with everything new (except the mobo).

JRDtechnet
08-28-2008, 04:01 AM
scratches head.
So two identical computers right?
1. Both started locking upon boot up within a day of each other
2. Both pass Memtest
3. Replaced PSU, memory, hard drive and flashed bios - still locking up
4. Reinstall OS, freezes with 37mins left

Here what I would try:
1. You haven't mentioned temperatures? If they are high(and even if they aren't) remove the HSF blow the dust out of the fins and clean and re-spackle the cpu.

2. Run your hardware analyzer (from bootcd) to test out all the components on your motherboard and CPU. If you don't have one you really should invest in one. Such as uxd.com (this one is PCI card based) or http://www.eurosoft-uk.com (runs from boot CD) Actually I think Dell has built in hardware diagnosis, hit F10 or Esc to bring up the boot menu and see if it has a diagnosis feature...u might need the old hard drive as the program would be on the Dell restore partition.

3. If all your hardware passes mustard then I'd say your copy of XP is defective in some way and to try another XP cd.

TimeCode
08-28-2008, 03:24 PM
did you check to see if the Dell warranty expired yesterday? :D
LOL! That is how it would go.
It's a law office. W2K3 Server, 3 printers, 7 PC's total. All other PC's are doing fine. Everyone's on surge protection and/or UPS.
Were these 2 PCs on the same router or switch? Could a jolt have come through the Ethernet into the NIC? Ethernet DOES carry a small bit of power intentionally.

cbclark
08-30-2008, 07:03 PM
If I recall there was some similar trouble with certain older systems concerning power management (not sure how old these are). Try pressing F5 when setup first begins and loading a profile for a generic PC without ACPI.

Also, there was mention of Dell in the thread. Did you try removing the CMOS battery for a bit prior to starting setup? I don't know what it is with Dell and the CMOS thing, but I have seen it work on occasion.

Wheelie
08-30-2008, 10:41 PM
If I recall there was some similar trouble with certain older systems concerning power management (not sure how old these are). Try pressing F5 when setup first begins and loading a profile for a generic PC without ACPI.

Also, there was mention of Dell in the thread. Did you try removing the CMOS battery for a bit prior to starting setup? I don't know what it is with Dell and the CMOS thing, but I have seen it work on occasion.
No I did not try that. I have already installed two new PC's at the customer's office but I still have the old ones in my shop. I will give that a try this weekend and let you know.

NYJimbo
08-31-2008, 01:05 AM
This may be way off but ....

We once had a machine that suddenly wouldnt boot one morning, after pulling out my hair for a day or so we figured out that the machine was just updated (windows update) and at that point it started failing.

After reloading the OS and adding patches we hit the same point, it was somewhere between XP sp1 and sp2.

What sp level of Xp are you now installing in those machines?. Is it possible those machines were upgraded or patched and then started to fail and now you are doing the same thing with the new OS loads.

It could be during the probe of the machine for the HAL stuff it is finding something it cannot deal with (new drivers or something in a newer patch or SP level) and now dying.

It sounds like a motherboard issue but more like something incompatible with the OS at this point considering you have just about removed everything else and the system appears to not be damaged otherwise.

See this also, might give you a clue:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;828267

Wheelie
08-31-2008, 03:39 PM
Good catch NYJImbo. Starts to make sense until I think for a minute ... how could hardware that was working fine yesterday now be incompatible with a 2 year old Windows XP Pro CD (Dell oem w/SP2)? It does not have any drivers on it, and has no critical updates after SP2.

I still have both of the old PC's here but I already installed 2 new Dell PC's onsite so the customer is back up and running. I might take a look at it again after I clear out the 15 PC backlog I have now (yes I'm working this weekend) :mad:

NYJimbo
08-31-2008, 04:06 PM
I might take a look at it again after I clear out the 15 PC backlog I have now (yes I'm working this weekend) :mad:

Yes at some point you have to just walk away from it. I mean if we had some kind of special hardware or software to interrogate the motherboard at every possible level and every discrete component and pull out detailed info, then it would be worth investigating. However we have only so many resources to work with and only so much time to spend on it.

This might be one that never gets solved, replacing the machine or mobo is better as it gets you past all this and they are back up and running.

TechHelper
08-31-2008, 10:01 PM
That's weird and cool. The guy who wrote that virus must've been a good programmer.

GreyWolf
09-12-2008, 06:03 AM
Was there anything scheduled on the machines? or some type of bios upgrade... I know with some of my clients with SP3 on windows XP I almost had to do open heart surgery to get the machines back up and running again....

Do you have the model number of the board... might be a documented issue that can be found online?...

Shawn

P.S Good luck with the issue..

puterpoker
11-30-2008, 08:01 PM
any news on this?

RoboGeek
11-30-2008, 09:27 PM
Yes, there are hardware rootkits, but they are pretty rare. Sounds more like blown caps on the board

Wheelie
11-30-2008, 10:31 PM
... Sounds more like blown caps on the board
Bingo! You nailed it.

The Dell recall on these bad motherboards ended January 2008 so Dell said they would not replace them. My customer paid me to install 3 new PCs ( :) ), transfer all the data from the old PCs to the new ones, connect to server, printers, yada yada yada.

Dell claims my customer was notified of the recall (standard answer) but my customer says they were not aware of it. Dell could offer no proof of notification.

So my customer (a law firm) is taking Dell to small claims court for the amount of all my invoices. 3 identical Dell OptiPlex GX270's that had the failed caps (they died within a month of each other). It'll be interesting to see when (or if) Dell pays.

RyanMeray
11-30-2008, 11:09 PM
If you'd have said it was a GX2x0 series in the first place, I bet dollars to donuts someone would've said bad caps within the first 3 or 4 posts.

Wheelie
11-30-2008, 11:18 PM
My bad :o .... I'm sure catbird can add to this thread now ...

RyanMeray
11-30-2008, 11:35 PM
No worries. I ran into this situation with a GX270 a few months ago, and wasted plenty of time pulling parts, testing them individually, only to finally realize I was dealing with one of the most flaky models Dell ever produced and it was just a bad mobo.

If they have any other GX series computers in their office, I'd recommend pre-emptively replacing them to avoid the downtime from when their caps runneth over. With that series, it's a bloody inevitability.

Wheelie
12-01-2008, 12:12 AM
The 3rd one was the last in the office.

Did Dell replace yours? If so when was it?

RyanMeray
12-01-2008, 06:27 AM
No, it was past the recall warranty date. I pulled the drive from the system, cloned it onto the hard drive of a brand-new Vostro 200, did a repair install with the Dell XP disc, and voila - All their apps were untouched, their settings preserved, up and running on completely new hardware. The system was acting as the fileserver for their office, so the downtime was a hassle, but not having to redo everything simplified things immensely.

nonchalant
12-22-2008, 06:21 PM
I had a PC in the other day that had virus issues. After I cleaned it up, backed up the data, and even formatted, the PC would randomly stall at the initial boot screen. Didnt even get to the 'detecting drives' stage.

I decided the BIOS may have been corrupted (by a virus) as it was also initially giving me the 'F1 to continue' message (which I fixed by installing a new battery), so I flashed it to the latest version.

Didnt have the problem once after that.

So yes, in answer to the OP a virus can damage a board. Worst case scenario it can wipe the BIOS so you cant even flash it.

usacvlr
12-22-2008, 08:46 PM
Those things were made like 4 years ago.. Time for new ones anyway.. I'd say they got their money's worth. You can troubleshoot this with an oscilloscope as well. With the vertical input gain turned quite high you should be able to see the ac ripple on even slightly degraded units assuming your scope has enough gain.