I have a HP Pavillion, its running windows 98, the cd drive is shot so the solution(s) must not not involve it.
The computer was hanging upon shut down so I downloaded something from microsoft for it. I don't know if this has anything to do with it but it's the last thing I remember changing before the [bleep] hit the fan; which was a few days later.
I turned the computer on and it said something to the effect of error loading kernel, you must reinstall windows, then it turned off and I started it again and it brought me to a selection menu etc...
I played around with this, sometimes I got through to the normal start but it eventually froze up, it wouldn't remember any save settings for my ares program and it dissassociated my media content from respective players.
I ended up rendering the kernel32 file old and replaced it with a new one from dll files.com or something or another, its in swedish ( I just looked as I was typing this and I see that now it isn't?) Anyway it seemed to do the trick, the content player saved along with ares but after a reset everything happened all over again minus the error when loading kernel.
I also am only able to use my internet access for about five minutes after starting the computer, afterwards all th browsers error when attempting any page. I don't know when this happened except for it was not before the initial problem.
P.S. When I typed about the swedish thing, I meant the prompt for "Standby, Shut Down" "Restart"... It is back in english now.