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Unable to download

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OK, posted this in OS Win XP forum, received a single response and then nothing for several days... So I am going to try here where I know I have gotten good help before, please don't blast me if you think this isn't a malware issue, but at this point I am ruling out nothing.. Here goes:
I am running windows XP and running avast free addition on this laptop, I am unable to download anything at all, I have tried reseting all the security zones, turned off all firewalls (temporarily of course) and pop up blockers, and still no avail.. The owner of the laptop says she thinks that she set it up like this so that her kids could not DL anything to it, but has no idea what she did.. The first thing I noticed was that I had no access to IE options, after reading up on this I copied a file (iecpl.cpl ? dont remember the name now) from the program files into sys32, and am now able to open IE options... However, I am unable to download anything at all to the computer. The other thing I find odd is the absence of the regular IE toolbar, I have google, and an att/yahoo toolbar, but no ie toolbar whatsoever, and have tried everything I can to get it to show up.. Any ideas at all? Am I dealing with some kind of malware or virus? My avast is in need of updating (auto updates are working) but something is wrong somewhere, and if it's a setting, I am unable to locate it.. Please help me!

Thanks in advance,
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