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This post made me remember on a strange occurence I noticed somewhen back in 2008. At that time I had alot IT-problems I wasn't able to technically accurate fix, where I nowaday do, but that one still leaves me clueless.

It appeared to me I had a kind of virus on my pc, I couldn't get rid off. So I decided to reinstall windows (That time it was still windows XP, what probably is important). But something prevented doing so. after rebooting to check the system it occured that a lot of folders contained (some places with even tens to hundreds) empty folders with rubbish names. Similiar to the temporary windows update folders, but obvisious diferent in something (can't remember anymore what it was).

So after configuring some settings, which I assumed to be the cause of failure to reinstall windows, I restarted again and it wasn't even possible anymore to boot from that HDD nor to reinstall windows on it. So I decided to mark that HDD with a big red cross and bought a new HDD.

I succesfully installed windows on it without any complications, begun to install1 some lcoal updates and drivers where I had to reboot in that process ofcourse. And after the second or third reboot that drive had the same strange folders all over its system- and data- folders. One more reboot and that factorynew HDD which was never in contact with my homenetwork, had the same failure as the old one.

Since I hadn't the knowledge/availability of tools to wipe the HDD's at that time, I wasn't able to pin the source of error down by doing try and error tests, but I remember it appeared to me like it might be caused by the mainboard.(What from today I still think would be the most plausible).

I decided to buy a new pc, since I had no idea how to fix this, and so I closed that mysterious case.

But today I'm curious about it again.

Was there a virus behaving like this around at about that time? And if so, what exactly was its purpose and how did it work?


1Note: the old HDD was unpluged and allready archived in a cupboard. The internet wasn't even plugged at that time!

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I would say it's more likely that this is hardware failure or software misconfiguration, than malware. Particularly given you said that you were messing around with settings (I'm assuming in the BIOS)?

Bad RAM is another possible option, as is a faulty power supply causing either unclean shutdowns or excessive noise causing data errors.

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It's pretty difficult to speculate on the cause with so little information to go on. It could be that someone else on your same network was infected and when you re-installed with a fresh OS you simply got re-infected before you could run your updates and install anti-virus.

On the other hand it's not impossible that you did have some sort of malware hiding in your motherboard or graphics card. We've seen instances of this stuff in the wild, although I'm not sure it was back in '08.

Then again it may not be virus/malware related whatsoever. You could be seeing a hardware failure that was causing the HDs to fail. Let's say that while the HD was trying to write files or folders the commands got messed up by a bad motherboard, or another device on the bus, and lead to your messed up folder names.

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