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What to do when task manager is disabled: Press F1 for Help

An acquaintance asked me to check what’s wrong with her laptop. When I opened it, at first Vista seems to start just fine … until it reached the part that the task bar, program menu and the rest of the desktop items should have appeared. It did not!

I tried to open the task manager by doing the three finger salute (pressing ctrl-alt-delete)… Viola! Task manager was disabled! A mal-ware infection!

Usually I could open the Windows explorer from the task manager by opening up a local drive from there, but now the task manager is disabled! Naturally I wouldn’t risk inserting my flash drive with all my utilities in it to a computer with yet unknown level of threat. Question is what should I do next? Format the hard drive? Hmm.. My Bart’s P.E. is not with me. At least I should be able to make a backup before I format the whole drive…
First I need to find a way to open System Restore! However the Desktop is blank, Task bar and start menu is disabled! Task Manager is disabled! At that moment I can’t think of any other way of opening the Windows Explorer! I thought I really need to format the thing… or I just need a little help.

That’s when it came into me, I called for Microsoft’s Help by pressing F1… and just I have hoped, after entering some keywords, I was able to open the control panel from the Help Window! From there, it was a cakewalk and simple run the System Restore. I changed her anti-virus software to a demo version of Nod32 (I will leave it up to her if she wants to pay for the registration). Problem Solved!
Unfortunately, the owner needed it back ASAP and I wasn’t able to see the log results of the Nod32 scan. Therefore, I wasn’t able to see what hit her laptop.

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