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Start up problems - immediate error message - then freezes

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Recently our PC has developed a problem on start up. Passes the Windows 2000 Pro screen no problem. The desktop screen comes up and starts to arrange itself - all the icons and so on - gets about halfway through this when a message appears:
'Explorer.exe Application error. The instruction at 0x7cf8b39e referenced memory at "0x0069007a". The memory could not be "written". Click on OK to terminate the program. Click on cancel to debug the program.'
It is not possible to do anything except for one of those two commands.
Clicking on either makes the computer 'freeze'. The desktop disappears and is replaced by one of the Windows generic wallpapers with nothing else - just an empty screen.
The only thing you can do is Ctrl+Alt+Delete and enter Task Manager and run programs and files by browsing. Everything still seems to be where it should be and does run (most of the time). But with no access to the desktop it's highly inconvenient and we end up just having to switch it off. Every time we reboot, the message comes back.
We have Zone Alarm and SpyWare Search and Destroy and I have since scanned with Avast Antivirus and Ad-Aware and they found nothing, but I did the last updates before this problem started. Then, a few days after this problem developed, it no longer wanted to connect to the internet on our broadband and still won't, so I can't get the latest updates for the antivirus and anti spyware that we have. I'm posting this from our other computer.
I've no idea if the problem is virus/spyware related (hence I've posted this on the Operating Systems message board) and I've no idea if the reason it has stopped connecting to the web is related to the problem either, though it's a bit coincidental and our other computer connects fine to the same line.

There are slight variations in the code numbers in the error message every time. Also, the Desktop Recovery screen now seems to appear each time, but we can't respond to it because the error message appears and everything freezes. Have you got any ideas what is going on and how to cure it? Would a HijackThis scan help you?

FYI: It runs on Windows 2000 Pro with sp4
512 RAM
AMD Athlon 900
40 GB hard drive with 16 GB free
About a year ago I upgraded the RAM by taking out the old 256 and installing a fresh 512 Kingston module - all verified with Kingston beforehand.

I defragmented the disc about six weeks ago as it was sluggish and it was much better afterwards. I regularly delete temp internet files and cookies. This current problem began about two weeks ago.

Any help greatly appreciated.
Many thanks.
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    motto - Just get-er-done

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It may not apply but the F-Nimda virus can cause this.


Download the fix...


It also may be this problem.


And this thread may help your problem.


Please let us know if any of these help.

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