I'm working on a used Gateway M-Series laptop, model number: W650I. The laptop runs fine, but whenever I try to boot into
Windows with the hard drive that came with it, I get a BSOD! It essentially reads:
A problem has been detected
and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer. Check for viruses on your computer. Remove any newly
installed hard drives or hard drive controllers. Check your hard drive to make sure it is properly configured and terminated.
Run CHKDSK /f to check for hard drive corruption and then restart your computer. Technical info: STOP: 0x0000007B,
Thinking that it could be an issue with the drive, I took it out and put
it a drive from a Linux machine, and the Gateway booted up normally. I also took the Gateway drive and put it in the Linux
box, and the computer gave me an endless reboot cycle of "Windows is loading files." So the Linux drive works in the Gateway
and in its own computer, but the Gateway drive works in neither. Simple, right? Just fix the drive; problem solved. Not so
Now I know for a fact that the prior owner of the Gateway infected the machine with all kinds of malware,
and a lot of it was never removed. Since Windows was compromised with so many viruses and other nasties, I simply decided to
start with a clean slate. So I formatted and reinstalled Windows 7 on the drive. Knowing that formatting doesn't remove all
malware, I also hooked the drive up to other computers and ran:
1.) An Microsoft Security Essentials scan. Results
2.) An AVG Internet Security version 9 scan, twice, and results were clean.
3.) Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, which took over two hours. Results were clean.
I ran CHKDSK twice on the drive,
once from another installation of Windows, and it did report that it had repaired some bad sectors. I used EASUS Partition
Manager to run a surface test on the drive, and it came back with a couple of bad sectors. So it would appear that the drive
may have been damaged by too many incorrect shutdowns or malware, and wouldn't work at all.
Not true. Normally I
would have thought that the drive was toast, since it didn't boot up into either computer. However, I hooked it up to my own
custom built computer. . . and it worked! Windows booted normally, installed updates normally, ran its programs correctly,
all without error messages. So why isn't it working in the Gateway laptop?
I thought it might have something to
do with the Gateway's RAM. So I ran Windows Memory Diagnostic twice, and it did not report any errors. The BIOS recognized
all the RAM on its summary page, and emitted no error beep when the system started. The Linux drive also booted up with no
problem. Just to be sure, I checked the RAM, each stick in a different module, while booting up from the Gateway hard drive,
but still encountered the BSOD. The RAM looks fine, and the contacts were not dirty or damaged. I reseated the memory, just
to be sure nothing was loose, but to no avail. Therefore I think the RAM is exonerated as a possible culprit.
Windows also would not respond to any of the F8 commands. If I told it to boot into Safe Mode or Last Known Good Config, it
would still bluescreen. I ran startup repair on the drive after one such failed attempt, and I did get an error message
explaining why Startup Repair couldn't fix the drive, but I don't remember what it was.
Since the Gateway drive is
from Western Digital, I downloaded and ran the WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostic program. The drive passed the SMART test and the
WD quick test without issue. I was going to run the extended test, but after I saw the estimated time sitting at 19 hours
after running it for 120+ minutes, I decided to stop the test. For what it's worth, it didn't report any errors during the
first two and a half hours I was running it.
I'm wondering if the BIOS on the Gateway is infected somehow. Sure, I
can access it without issue, but maybe it has some sort of malware in it that could be interacting with the Windows 7 bootup
sequence, which is causing the BSOD. Remember, the Linux drive booted fine on it, because Linux wouldn't get infected with a
Windows BIOS virus. I could try resetting the motherboard, or flashing the BIOS, but since I can't actually boot into
Windows, I'm not sure how I'd do that.
The one thing I don't understand is that the hard drive works in my
computer, but bluescreens in the Gateway. I've checked to ensure that the drive is properly attached and secured in the
laptop before I boot the computer. In fact, Windows gets as far as the startup splash graphic before the BSOD hits, so I
don't think it is a bad or faulty connection with the laptop's SATA port.
Maybe there is some malware in the
drive that is eluding my AV scans? Is there a really thorough virus checker that will scour deep down into the sectors, where
a rootkit or something could be hiding? And can anyone recommend any effective third party disk checkup and repair utilities?
Maybe the built in Windows features aren't telling me the whole story.
I've exhausted all of my tricks, so anyone
else here is welcome to try their magic and find a solution to this Gateway dilemma!