I was called to find out why a customer's computer was reluctant to boot up the other day.
She had tried safe mode and step-by-step but the thing would not get underway.
I found that config.sys had zero length. Norton had previously been reloaded because of a problem. It had baulked at running because it had found its definition file was corrupt but may have been after downloading the latest virus definitions from the Internet. Anyway I noticed that Norton had duly backed up the original config.sys and this was also zero length. This had been several days earlier and presumably the absence of config.sys hadn't particularly mattered although later she said that the keyboard hadn't been right in Lotus (running in MSDOS). Because the keyboard command is called in config.sys and that had disappeared the default is the US layout. Something is odd!
I got the computer to boot up easily enough but the screen was only 16 colours and 640x480. Try as I might the screen would not stick at true colour 1024. In fact it would not go beyond 800x600 -true colour in the menu. Once a new resolution had been selected it would not shift from the basic level even when rebooted. It kept showing 16 colours at 640. I tried to re-install the graphics drivers but the 3-D install program would not even try to run.
Something else is odd!
For some reason, on an impulse I ran MSCONFIG. Autoexec.bat was ticked and config.sys although zero length was also ticked. BUT nothing else was! Every single entry in system.ini had lost its tick. The same was true for win.ini and for that matter startup.
I put ticks in all the system.ini and win.ini boxes as well as a good selection of startup boxes and rebooted. All was then back to normal with all screen resolutions showing up in the menus in full.
There was another problem. This was seemingly not associated with the boot up problem and had started some little time ago. New E-Mails would respond to the SEND command and ostensibly go off to the ISP and appear in the "sent" list in Outlook Express but were never received by anyone. Neither was there a mesasge received appologising for non-delivery. They just disappeared. When this started wasn't known precisely.
I ran SCANREG which reported all well with the Registry.
I ran SFC which did not report anything amiss.
Incoming messages are received as normal.
The chap from the ISP said it must be a registry fault. Or could it be Norton? Or is it a new virus??? Or something else....????
Switching on the maintenance log facility to check handshaking between the modem and the distant computer all looked well. Messages were just disappearing into a black hole at the ISP.
But wait... while on the phone to the knowledgeable but quite useless chap from the ISP he asked me to send an E-Mail by their "NEW SYSTEM". Of course this worked faultlessly..... but....as they've just implemented their new E-Mail service it's not impossible for it to be a newly introduced software bug! I must have been on the phone to them for the best part of an hour yesterday and he promised to investigate further AND SUDDENLY it all started working today so draw your own conclusions!