Am I gonna have to re-format my HD? Windows 7 startup issues: registry corruped / AVG

System is an Intel i7 running 64-bit Win 7 Professional. When I went to start it up today, the CHKDSK utility ran automatically and said it found a few bad sectors. It tried to start up Windows and I got a message that it failed to boot, with the diagnostic report showing most of the tests passed but it had “registry corrupted” in a few places. First I tried recovery from a system restore point, which failed, citing a .dll file in the AVG directory and saying it was unable to replace it. Then I tried restoring from a system image (more recent than the system restore point), which worked.

So it booted up and everything seems to be OK but I’m kinda worried here and I can’t even tell if it’s a hardware or a software issue. What other types of diagnostics should I do? If there’s a virus AVG isn’t detecting it (as a side note I hear AVG isn’t the best antivirus, should I ditch it for something else?)

Good idea to reformat and reinstall the OS from scratch? I’ve got everything backed up that needs backing up - would just be a pain reinstalling everything and getting my settings back but if it’s what needs to be done here then I’ll do it.

ETA: oh and I forgot to add: what confounds me is that I haven’t been making major system changes. The only software updates lately have been automatic ones from Adobe, AVG, and Microsoft itself (including the SP1 for 7). Could any of these actually have caused the problem?

Either your drive or your RAM is going bad. Probably the drive.

What sucks is that this is a brand new system (home-built). I ordered all the components from Fry’s online and when I got there they told me they only had an open-box version of the hard drive I had ordered… which pissed me off, because I really wanted that specific one but when I ordered I thought I was getting a new one.

When I hesitated the salesman managed to convince me there was probably nothing wrong with it and if there was they had a “pretty liberal return policy” (even though it’s only 15 days, which I have passed).

If it is indeed a problem with the hard disk I will go bitch the living hell out of them, but I need to be sure. How would I be able to verify that?

Any modern hard drive throwing up bad sectors needs to be pulled and replaced ASAP.

Hm, if I have to take the drive back to Fry’s that brings up two other questions:

  • Does anyone have experience returning things past the measly 15-day window that’s their posted return policy? I feel like I can bitch hard enough to get a refund since I felt a little bait-and-switched from the beginning when they sold it to me open-box but just wondering.

  • How can I make sure it’s wiped clean enough that my personal data is irrecoverable without physically damaging it?

Oh and a third question - if it’s definitely a hardware and not a software issue, if I get a new drive would it be safe to restore from a working system image? Or is it better to go the painful route and re-install everything from scratch?

I don’t know about Fry’s return policies, but the hard drive manufacturer will likely have a 3-to-5 year warranty on the drive. Most manufacturers will have a section on their web site that will allow you to check the drive’s serial to their database, and if it falls under warranty then they’ll replace it.

Fry’s will be a quicker exchange if they allow it, but you’re not out of luck if they don’t.

SeaTools will run on drives other than Seagate. Other manufacturers also have drive test software too, look in their support sites.

Memtest86 will check the RAM. I’d say it’s about a 90% chance it’s the drive though.

DBAN will wipe the drive.

If the files weren’t already corrupted when you took the image it should work fine.