Re: Help for your problem
Something has infected or corrupted your windows installation. If you are running a current anti-virus program with the newest available updates and virus definitinos, and that has not fixed the problem, you probably cannot repair it as fast as you can replace it.
Someone suggesting trying Linux, but my impression is that is not an option for you. Anyone who is having a problem as simple as this one is not a good candidate for running Linux on their PC. I run Red Hat Linux 9.0 and Mandrake in a multi-OS booting configuration, love playing with it, but it's not a viable Windows substitute for the average PC point-and-click user. (Anyone interest in trying Linux without screwing with their Windows installation should try Knoppix at http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html and run it from a bootable CD.)
Linux is like an aftermarket part for your car. Sometimes it is as good or better than the OEM (factory) part, sometimes it's not as good. It depends on you, and what you intend to do with the part. It may outperform the original, or it may not be up to the task. But, by the mere virtue that it exists, it prevents the OEM from being the only option and helps keep prices down through the benefits of free enterprise and forces of competition.
The best solution to this problem is a clean install of Windows (reformat and reinstall EVERYTHING). I would also
partition the drive down the middle (50% drive C, 50% for drive D). After installing, move your My Documents folder to D:\My Documents and your e-mail storage folder to the D:\ drive. Make it a habit to save all user-created files to the D:\ drive from now on and doing a clean install will be nothing more than a minor inconvenience. If you have only the crap-ola restore CDs (not a real Windows CD), I would recommend you buck up and go buy a regular Windows CD to install with. The CDs that came with your computer should include drivers, or you can download drivers from their web site in most cases. Some restore CDs (read that MOST) include garbage shareware and adware and tons of pure junk that makes your computer EXACTLY like it was when you bought it.
(If you actually liked all that junk and really feel your computer worked nice the way the company set it up, then go ahead and use the restore CD to fix your problems. Be aware, however, some restore CDs will not work if you format your hard drive and create a new partition.)
Don't pay full price for WindowsXP at the local store. You can get XP Pro at newegg.com or directdeals.com for under $140. (Or, if you know someone that owns a Windows CD, you can buy the license to install it on your computer for a lot less money at 9software.com. Make sure their version of Windows matches the license you buy, or the CD-Key will not work.)
I would also recommend using PowerQuest DriveImage or Symantec Ghost to make an image of your fresh installation, once you're done setting up everything to your personal tastes. You can make the drive image on the
D:\ drive or on a CD-R drive. At the first sign of trouble, you can reload the image and be ready to rock and roll in no time.
You might want to check with you computer maker, if your PC is still under warranty, to make sure you will not void the warranty by re-partitioning, reformatting and reinstalling from a REAL Windows CD. If you find the warranty is as worthless, and the tech support as crappy as most people do, you probably will not care one way or the other. (You could probably finish the reinstallation while waiting on hold two hours for the "next available support technician" to get to you.)
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