Two major computer problems at the same time: Virus and broken CD drive

Some time ago, my system, an 2003 Acer notebook, was infected by a virus. Since efforts to rid of it v
through virus scans failed, I saved all the data I wanted to retain by burning them on CD-ROMs and prepared to format the hard disk and re-install Windows. The computer was shipped with recovery CDs to do just that: You’d insert a CD, follow screen instructions, and it would automatically format the hard disk and re-install Windows (plus certain other software packages, for example a burning software) without doing all that stuff with “format c” commands and so on.

Just when I wanted to do that, the CD drive broke; it seems to be a hardware failure, since it wouldn’t boot bootable CDs in BIOS either. So I’m now stuck with an infected system which I can’t format because I need a working CD drive to do that.

I gather I’ll have to replace the CD drive, but this will take some time because I’ll have to found out which models fit the slot, order them, etc. Is there any way to get rid of the first problem without a working CD drive? I suppose borrowing an external CD drive wouldn’t help (it would require Windows for the USB connection, right?).

A lot of things are workarounds, but one of the above ought to be able to give you some ideas on where to start.

A 2003 notebook is probably old enough that the BIOS won’t be able to boot off the drive without using the OS USB drivers, but it;s worth trying. Possibly one of Rico’s links will allow a USB off a floppy based driver set (assuming you have a floppy).

There are some external CD drives that can boot off a DOS floppy boot, but the parameters often require some fiddling.

If the hard disk is not too much of a bear to remove the best solution might be to remove it (assuming it is formatted) and attach it to a 2.5-3.5 adapter (around $ 10) or an external 2.5" USB case (Around $20-$30). Use another system to blow out the partitions - re-partition (make 2 - second one big enough to hold all the CD re-install files ) - format both - make main partition bootable and dump all the OS files on the second partition.
Before you give up on the CD entirely you might try hitting it with a shot of compressed air or a cleaning CD. Chances aren’t great it will come back but the PITA involved with the workarounds make it possibly worth trying.

Obviously putting the re-install disks on a 2-4 gig USB is the easiest and slickest solution so that would be best to start with per Rico’s links.

If the disk has not been foramtted yet a thumb drive should boot automaticaly. Make sure it’s one of the kind that has a manual read-write switch so the virus can’t write to it.

Hmmm…sounds as if this is going to be a major thing, but there ought to be some way to do it.

Thanks everybody for the input; I appreciate your help a lot.