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Is this a virus or do I need to reload Windows 95?

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My parents use a Windows 95 computer to send emails and read news on the Internet.

They say that one day when they were on the Internet, their computer started downloading an ad then crashed. After they rebooted, they discovered:

1. All their desktop icons (except My Computer) had disappeared.

2. In their Start menu, all the shortcuts have disappeared out of the Programs section of the menu]

3. Whenever the computer starts, they get a General Protection Fault referencing wininit.dll

4. Whenever they try to start Internet Explorer or Eudora, they get a General Protection Fault referencing krnl386.exe and kernel32.dll

I have manually put everything back on their desktop and into their Programs section of the Start menu.

But, I don't know how to get rid of the error messages about wininit.dll, krnl386.exe and kernel32.dll

I reinstalled MS Explorer but that has had no effect.

Is this a virus? Do I need to post a Hijack This Log in the viruses forum? Did the OS just get corrupted when the computer crashed? Should I reload Windows 95?

Please do not suggest that they should buy a new computer. My parents are senior citizens, on a fixed income.
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Neil Jones

Neil Jones

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Quite of a lot of the clean-up tools don't run on Windows 95 now. Neither do most of the common viruses, come to think of it.

The files you mention are all key windows files so it looks like that installation has gone south. It may well be that it wrote to a bad sector on the hard drive and that's upset everything.

It might be worth, depending on the specification of the system, backing the emails and newsgroup settings up (and documents, etc) and then putting a copy of Windows 98 SE on it. In the long run, the format will test the hard drive and then if 98SE stops working, its easier to repair than 95 was. Obviously you'll have to put the programs and things back on later.
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