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Failing programs/shutdown/

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I dont know much about computers, so ill try my best to be as detailed as possible.
I have a Windows XP home edition with intel celeron m.
Yesterday, my computer refused to shut down. all it showed me was "saving your settings" for about 3 hours.
I finally had to shut it down from the power button.
Today, I tried opening up Itunes, and it wouldnt open.
I tried going to the "Add or Remove Programs" and I got a blank list.
I tried going to "my computer" but it took soo long for it to search for my items.
Finally, I tried opening up my antivirus system, (Avast) it sort of just froze mid-startup.
Whenever I try to restart/shutdown my computer all I get is my blank desktop, no icons, task bar, just my background.
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Since AV won't start and with the other issues you state can the system startup at all if you shutdown completely and start backup?

If so, I suggest you go to the Malware Removal and Spyware Removal Forum and run all the steps located in the START HERE. These self-help tools will help you clean up 70% of problems on your own. If you are still having problems after doing the steps, then please post the reguested logs in THAT forum. If you are unable to run any of the tools then start a new topic in the malware forum and put this in the subject line...I am unable to run any malware tools

If you are still having problems after being given a clean bill of health from the malware expert, then please return to THIS thread and we will pursue other options to help you solve your current problem(s).
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