I have a laptop which has been working well with Vista 64bit home edition for just over a year now. This morning, it was acting wonky like it normally does if I go too long between reboots, so I rebooted it. Once it booted, I can log in fine, open up most apps fine, but anything that requires admin rights does not work. I noticed the problem because Onecare wasn't running (I know, I need to replace it). I tried starting it by hand, but got a message that it couldn't be started and to reboot. I thought I'd go try to manually start the service through the control panel. When open the control panel, go to the administrator tools, and launch "event viewer", instead of getting the prompt to run event viewer as administrator, it just sits and thinks, and control panel is essentially frozen, though everything else works.
I have gone around to all of the things I can think of, and the problem seems consistent - if the app requires elevating to administrator rights, it won't work.
I have tried:
- dos prompt run as administrator
- task manager -> show processes from all users
- Everything in control panel -> administrator tools
- add/remove programs
The problem is consistent and reproducible across many reboots. The problem does not happen in safe mode.
I did download a piece of open source code to make a bootable image on a usb stick for an unrelated problem on a different computer a few days ago, but that is the only thing memorable that has happened. That app didn't install anything - it's a stand-alone binary. Another interesting problem - any attempts to uninstall software through control panel does not work - add/remove programs freezes, and I can't uninstall apps while in safe mode. I don't think it would help, but in case the solution requires that, keep in mind I can't uninstall.
My first suspicion was a virus, particularly since it effectively prevents Onecare AV from running. I downloaded the Trend house call app and ran a scan in safe mode and found nothing. Then, I used the Kaspersky recovery disk to perform a full off-line scan of the drive (booting from the recovery CD), again, nothing found. This certainly doesn't mean I am virus free, but if it is a virus, it is a tough one to detect.
Next, I thought that it might be a hardware issue (long shot, but nothing else was making sense). I ran the full suite of Dell diags for the laptop, and no problems were found.
Does anyone have suggestions on how I can fix this? I've tried all of the things that are obvious to me and am at a loss on what to do other than nuke the drive and reinstall Windows.