1. My computer's problem is obviously in drive C, which contains the operating system.
2. More than once I have wiped out the entire drive using GW Scan, which came with the Gateway "System Recovery" disk. This program writes "zeros" to whatever drive you select, and believe me, it takes a long time with a 40 GB drive.
3. Once the wiping is finished, I run fdisk and then format, hoping to wind up with a "clean" drive. But, this may be like pouring boiling water on an anthill, as you never get rid of all of them.
4. Then I do what I think is a "clean" install of Windows 98 SE using the original OEM disk provided by Gateway.
5. Finally, I reinstall a minimum amount of software to allow me to carry out my project work, have anti-virus protection, E-mail protection, and a few games for my breaks. I only have 512 Meg of memory, so I have to keep the "overhead" low. In fact, at this moment, I only have 37% system resources available, but then, I have been opening and closing windows and apps., so I guess I should chalk it up to "memory leakage". But it is so tedious to close everything down and reboot, only to go through the whole process of opening everything up again. I know, I know, and I am looking into the possibility of adding more memory, but that still doesn't help with my computer's error problems.
6. OK, that brings me to my question(s): Given the steps outlined above, is there any reason for a "virus" or "malware", or any other piece of malicious code to have survived, only to reinfect my system?? Does "writing zeros" to a drive and reformatting it destroy the registry, or does that survive the process?? If the registry is overwritten, and I have a blank, clean drive (tabla rasa), could something still survive at a lower level, say in MS-DOS, which I know underlies Windows, or could I be dealing with something that invades or resides in the MBR, or is a "rootkit" (which I don't understand)?? I ask this primarily because when I got everything reinstalled and updated during my last two occasions, when I ran my Norton SystemWorks 2001 (Professional Edition), it reported that it could not read the MBR of either drive, which it then identified as drive 0, 1, C & D, making me click "Ignore" at each point, and then it went on to read through the files on both drives and reported them both clean. No other AV software I have acts in this fashion, and in fact, they all report the MBRs as clean, so I wonder if I actually do have something hiding in the MBR of both drives, or is this is just something peculiar to Norton, or if there is something hiding, how can I clean them? Does anyone have any suggestions, or answers to these questions??
Thank you in advance.