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To Hell and Back

 

Yesterday I had a frightening experience settling disputes between Avast Antivirus Free 6.0.0.24 and Daemon Tools Lite 4.40. In the end I admit, it was horrible experience for me. The problem remained.

I had Daemon Tools Lite installed on my machine. I was using Avast Antivirus Free 5.x. I had no problems. Avast released their latest upgrade as 6 series and I downloaded it and installed it. An additional bonus in this was the Sandbox and Auto Sandbox mode which isolates programs to prevent the spread of infection to the rest of the machine. Expecting rock solid integration of Avast I installed it, updated it and restarted it. The problems I faced were as follows: -

  • Blue Screen of Death – Just before the logon screen is displayed, the BSOD popped. The error code was 00000x7f( in hexadecimal). On the BSOD it said some problem with the ahcix86.sys file. I was speptical. If that indeed was the case, safe mode would not work either
  • So first I restarted it and logged into my second operating system, Linux Mint(Helena) to   check for any hard disk errors relating to bad sectors. No errors were found. Then I run a memcheck on the RAM modules. No errors were detected. After a little more effort including encoding and decoding in Mint I was convinced it was NOT a hardware problem but a software one. Probably a corrupt ahcix86.sys file. I read a dump file with this software - http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html
  • Accordingly I restarted the machine, this time booting into Windows with F8 function key pressed to access the advanced boot options, then selected the ‘Safe Mode’ option. Surprisingly in this case the ahcix86.sys file loaded perfectly. So it was obvious that it was not the culprit but the error or exception was thrown by it to denote some conflict with other drivers which were loading in Normal booting into Windows.
  • I restarted the machine and found the BSOD disappeared. I was very happy. To double check I restarted and found it was back and never went off. After a few restarts I tried repairing it, but no errors were found by the Windows Recovery Tool.
  • I finally decided to reinstall Windows :(
  • After reinstalling Windows I again installed the Avast Antivirus Free 6.0.0.24 and Daemon Tools Lite. After restarting the same problem arised.
  • I realized their was some conflict between Avast and Daemon Tools.
  • Went into Safe Mode, and uninstalled the Virtual DVD Driver from Device Manager and restarted.image
  • It booted correctly but sensing any further trouble I uninstalled Avast and reinstalled Daemon Tools
  • The problem disappeared, and did not recur. I was Saved. :)

In this particular case after some research I came up with the following : -

  • Avast Antivirus 6.x is not the culprit
  • Daemon Tools is not the culprit
  • The problem was with SPTD.sys – a device driver for emulation used by Drive emulation software. But Avast Antivirus 6.x has some issues with SPTD because before I had Daemon Tools installed and faced no problems with Avast 5.x, Comodo, PC Tools etc. Avast 6.x being a new release will probably take some time to address the issues concerned.

Now I am feeling better.

Sarthak Ganguly

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