We'll all be better off if you just assume I'm clueless.
(Computer Help) Keywords: security, virus, antivirus, web
My Windows 98 SE has gone kaput. Kernel32.dll errors every which way, random reboots, all that jazz. I've got Norton AntiVirus and Personal Firewall (which crashes frequently, too), I run defrag and scandisk (not frequently enough, I admit), I run Spybot and AdAware and I have a copy of HJT. The only thing that seems to be wrong is, well, Windows. It acts like it's killing itself -- the autoimmune disease of computing, I suppose.
Now, I have terrible memory when it comes to time and order and such (something could have happened last week or two years ago, it's the same in my brain), so I can't quite tell you when this all started. I've had the computer for going on three years now.
It's currently "networked" to a computer running WindowsXP. We tried doing it ourselves, but we ended up calling in a professional, who got the internet hooked up between them but couldn't get anything else to work (said that some 98 copies just won't network properly with XP). I can't trade anything between the computers, but as I said, I do have internet. He had to modify something in the bios to even it that far, which is why I'm wary about formatting it.
My Norton subscription is running out in a few days, and I was planning on wiping my main drive before I renewed it (so I could reinstall it and everything else before it's renewed). Now, my mother and I can handle the wiping and reinstall part well enough (or we did on previous computers) but my main concern is that I won't be able to get the net up again, which is my primary motivation for having my own computer in the first place.
If necessary I might be able to get XP, but I hate it with a, er, mild passion. It would make networking and compatibility issues easier, I know, but I have some programs that only run on 98 (like Petz3, which I'm quite fond of, thank you) and frankly I just don't trust it. We've had problems with it storing information, including browsing stuff, that we can't delete, and that's a big nightmare for me. (Would switching completely to Firefox solve this? I only run IE on my computer because Firefox will randomly crash it).
Both our computers are custom-built. If it would be less hassle I might be able to convince my mother to just take it in and get it done. The people who work where we got them are very nice and very helpful and rarely charge a lot (they gave us a free upgrade when they messed something up once -- try to get that service from Best Buy). Alternately, my friend's uncle does computer repair and may have an idea of what to do.
Info: Custom-built by Advanced Computer Services. Running Windows98SE, 512 RAM (I don't know what type -- I'm on the other computer right now), 40gb master drive and 80gb slave drive. I believe I have a 1800+ Athlon processor (which is excellent and great and has worked wonderfully and I love it so much better than any Pentium I've had and all that). I've got Norton Internet Security 2004 (the AntiVirus needed renewed a month ago, but I've only been on about five times since then).
Looking for suggestions: Wipe it and reinstall 98, or try to get XP? Don't wipe it, just try to figure out what's wrong? If I do wipe and put in 98, how do I deal with the internet problem?
I'm pretty savvy with things like web and graphic design (and I haven't had a virus in years), but when it comes to OS's and networking I'm rather lost.
I'll answer any questions you ask about my computer -- I know I left a lot of stuff out, and I can't remember what. (I swear I don't do drugs and I haven't suffered any head trauma, I just naturally lack any usable memory.)
[Crossposted to computer_help, computerhelp, and tech_support.]