Okay, so, first of all I apologize for having to create a new account. I searched all through the email addresses I still have access to and couldn't find any mention of my username or password, which I've forgotten by now as it's been a few years and whatnot. But I remember that this forum saved my backside a couple of times and I need serious help, now.
My computer has been acting oddly for years, now; funding was low, I haven't been able to get it fixed or replaced. So on and so forth. I suspected the hard drive might have issues, but it was actually holding its own decently so I kept using it normally (and there were no SMART errors etc. being reported, so...) Anyway, yesterday I installed Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and the official version 1.2 patch (from planetvampire, I believe; it's a well-known modding site for the game, so not just a random google result). The game came from a disc set I bought used on Amazon, not the Steam version. And aside from taking a little pushing of adding "- window" to the end of the shortcut target to make it run as a window instead of fullscreen, it worked pretty well. I played it for hours... It worked fine, even though the internet had said I'd possibly need to edit all kinds of compatibility settings to make it work with Vista... and even though I declined the directX download bundled with the disc (since it's from 2004).
I give this background because I worry it may be related.
Anyway, I quit the game for a little while, then decided to play it again. This time, I edited the config file of the game as outlined via a google search, to enable skipping the intro scene. Thta's all I did, and it played fine yet again.... Except, suddenly, my network started dropping online. Note that I had spent six hours on my slow connection downloading a mod, which I had not opened, extracted, or even touched yet. So, my network card got a real workout, I'm sure. But after that, while I was playing the game again, my connection dropped. It wasn't a normal drop; it completely disconnected as if the signal had been lost, leaving me to manually reconnect. And it kept happening, probably once every fifteen minutes or so. There were some odd things (in my opinion) in the event log.
Worried, I updated Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and told it to perform a quick scan. As I always do while it scans, I was using my system still. Browsing tumblr, as it were. And the scan hung on a .dll. My system resources started being used too much, Firefox half-crashed, and then I lost the ability to move my mouse. I panicked, like an idiot, and did a hard reset by holding down the power button. It was left off for about fifteen minutes, as I had to deal with other stuff. When I came back, since I feared it was a tough malware or something, I booted into safe mode with networking. The network problem didn't return, and MBAM said that my system had 8 infections... Except those were all false positives on gimp extensions, and googling the name it gave led me nowhere. I couldn't find out info on the supposed threat.
I decided to go ahead and defrag my drive with Defraggler (a very old version; I denied the update when it said one was available). After a few hours and very little progress, it started to hang, so I once again did what I'm good at doing and panicked, stopping the defrag. I assumed it was because so many files were fragmented, so I selected fewer to defragment. That, too, started to hang so I stopped and narrowed it down a few more times. Eventually, I gave up and decided I didn't care about defragging as much, anyway.
Well... I went to restart it normally, and it took an eternity to do anything, and eventually hung for several minutes on a half-composed desktop with no ability to move my mouse. This time, I had no choice but to improperly reboot. Trying again, it didn't even get past a black screen when it was supposed to be booting normally. Thankfully, I'm still able to get into safe mode with networking for now; that's what I'm using at the moment and frantically attempting to save as many important files as I can to a flash drive. But, of course, ultimately I really want (and need) to save my computer!
Googling has informed me that Vista being unable to boot post-defrag isn't totally unheard of, but I couldn't find any solutions and the one thing I found mentioned command line stuff that I'd rather not do until someone has heard my specific situation and chimed in on it themselves. I don't have a repair disc, to the best of my knowledge. All I have is the self-burned discs that HP guides you through making with a new laptop... and I consider a reset of that calibre the absolute last resort. Though, if maybe repairs can be done with my recovery partition, that'd be great too.
Unfortunately, one more thing I noticed... my drive was supposed to have only 27.8GB (more or less) free... now, after the botched reboots, it's claiming to have 40-somethingGB free. Which obviously scares me because what in the world did Defraggler do to my drive?! Though it didn't hang on any important files to the best of my knowledge, just game files for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and random images I had downloaded from tumblr.
Please, can someone help? I really need my computer saved, and I'm not sure what to do now and am scared to do much more than attempt to backup files. Should I run Defraggler again and let it go all the way? Is there something else to do?