Ouch.  My father in law seems to be having a similar problem on his 98 pc.
Before reformatting and losing all data, 2 things.  Disconnect any
unnecessary hardware (PCI cards, modem etc) and then see if it works better.
If so, add components one at a time.  You may be able to pin it down on a
malfunctioning part.

If this doesn't work, then I'd try getting a new hard drive and rebuilding
the system on that.  If you can rebuild with no problems, then you may be
able to add your old hard drive as a slave drive and back up all info before
reformatting.  This way you'll get more storage as well, or even be able to
start up form either drive in case of a future problem.

There is probably and easier way then the above two options, but that's what
I'd do.  Maybe someone else has input.

Good luck,
Jeremy Swan

> Hey, speaking of irreperable damage, I have a question, and I'll bet at
> least one of you computer-savvy folks out there knows the answer.
> Our PC (running on Windows 98) has recently been exhibiting some weird
> behavior. It seems to have reset itself back to former versions of programs
> like our Anti-virus software, and will not uninstall or reinstall the
> correct versions, because it says it can't find them. A few other things
> have seemed to change spontaneously, like our desktop icons are in different
> spots, our CD drives are inaccessible, and we can't get on the internet. As
> you can imagine, this is not any fun at all.
> We thought it was a worm or virus and have been on the phone repeatedly with
> Symantec and MSN trying to figure it out. After we tried all sorts of
> recommended fixes (defragmentation, virus scans in DOS mode, etc.), and not
> finding anything, the support tech from Symantec is now saying we need to
> take it to a repair place and have the hard drive reformatted. He said
> computers usually need to have this done every 4-5 years (ours is just
> turning four this September). We have a computer book that tells us you
> should never have to have this done, and that techs only tell people to do
> it because they are out of real answers.
> We are pretty happy to try anything that will work at this point, but if we
> can avoid the hassle of rebooting everything and the expense of a repair
> shop, I'd like to. Any thoughts?
> Thanks in advance!
> Rachel
>> From: lindsey dearnley <[log in to unmask]>
>> Reply-To: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
>>       <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: re Macs
>> Date: Sat, 15 May 2004 19:28:48 +0100
>> Looks like Im keeping the mac then!   Im not so sure
>> about networking them both together, Im so computer
>> illiterate I would probably do irreparable damage or
>> something.  It might be an option in the future
>> though.
>>    Ill probably have to hook my mac up to the net, But
>> I dont suppose if anyone on here can give me tips on
>> that, as I dont know if I can have two computers in
>> the same household using the same dial-up number.  Im
>> in the UK on BT openworld, so If anyone actually can
>> answer that question, it would save me some time
>> hunting the BT website ;)