Windows 2000 + Kaspersky + Frozen/Locked Desktop Icons, etc

Recently we were called to a clients site to fix a very broken Windows 2000 system. The issues started after Kaspersky was force-installed. Kaspersky says not to do that but oops!

Symptoms included:

  • Frozen/Locked Icons on the Desktop and other Explorer windows
  • Corrupted display of Add/Remove Programs
  • Event Viewer wouldn't show any property pages
  • Many services failed to start (such as Windows Installer)

Windows Repair was not helpful, it usually isn't. Windows 2000 was required due to other software limitations on this hardware. Upgrade to XP was not an option.

After many hours of digging around the web to no avail (Suggestions to toggle various checkbox settings were not helpful) we discovered the answer with hail Mary pass.

Using Windows 2000 disc's we had from the past (about 10 years ago) we re-installed using a VirtualBox instance. This instance was upgraded to all the latest stuff (SP4, etc). Then the HKLM\Software\CurrentControlSet registry key was dumped from the good machine and imported into the failing system. Success!

Many services had been deleted by Kaspersky, including RPC which is required for Windows to do anything more than play Minesweeper. The files were there but the registry entries were not. After this massive import and a reboot the system was fixed.

Took a lot of hunting in a buried system (Registry) and deciphering unhelpful error messages from the Windows sub-systems. Even more difficult given the fact that Event Viewer wouldn't show any property pages so details were not very forthcoming. That's why Linux systems keep configuration and logs in plain text - can read from any system and easy to switch, not recursively-interdependent components that are all to easy to disable.