Windows 2000 Freezes Screens and Can't Shut Down

I'm running Windows 2000 on a Pentium II, 500 mhz, 256K RAM (one chip only), with a 10GB HD.  This is my work computer.  We have 5 computers that are configured peer-to-peer, just so we can share files.  The "network" person is off on maternity leave, so I had to fend for myself (actually I probably know more than her, which is very little).  When I started working here a few months ago, my computer was horrendous--I reformatted it and installed Win2K.  I had a problem with connecting up to the other computers, but I managed to figure out how to print my docs on the shared printers.  In anticipation for her return, I tried, once again, to be recognized by the workgroup so I can share files.  I finally got it to work, but in the process, accidently deleted my default printer icon.  I tried to get it back, because it was a simple procedure--but it didn't work.  I tried more and I guess I went too deep and ended up with a big problem on my hands.

1.  I can't print off the shared printers.
2.  I am part of the workgroup (they see me), but when I or anyone else puts files in my shared folder, they don't show up.
3.  I can ping the other computers.
4.  When I try to open "Network Places" or "Adobe Acrobat 5.0" the screen freezes up, turns gray in the window, and stays there.  When I move my cursor over the window, it turns into the busy hour-glass, but when I move it outside the frozen window, it turns in to the regular arrow cursor.  Today, this problem happened when I ran a "Search" and when I ran "Internet Explorer."  I fear it is getting worse.
5.  When I hit ctrl-alt-del, sometimes it will let me end program, but sometimes it gives me this error message: "This program cannot be closed.  If it is being debugged, please resume it or close the debugger first." Then it stays there.  
6.  In most cases, my desktop disappears, but I can reload it through the Task Manager, New Task function.
7.  When desktop is back I can do word processing, browse the web (until today)--all with the frozen gray windows in the background.
8.  Ultimately, I have to manually shut down the computer by holding down the power switch.  I shutdown as many programs as I can through the Task Manager, but then I have to hit the switch.
9.  When I hit the switch and am holding it down to power off, I get this messsage:  "System Standby Failed: The device driver for the Communications Port (Com 1) device is preventing the machine from entering stand by.  Please close all application and try again. If the problem persists, you may need to update this driver."
10.  I've been reading questions in experts-exchange and have been researching microsoft's knowledge bases--it appeared that I had a RAM problem, which made sense, because I had recently installed extra RAM; it increased my RAM to 261MB.  It worked fine, faster, but then I started getting these problems, so it made sense to me that I had installed incompatible RAM.  I bought new RAM, compatible with the computer, and got a 256MG RAM.

I'm trying to make a good impression in my new job, and all I've done is show how inept I am.  The bottom line is that my productivity is extremely low; my bosses are wondering when I'm going to have my reports ready, etc. etc.  Everyone else' machine is OK, so it's my problem that I created for myself.  Please help.  Mahalo!

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JehricoConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Sounds like a combination of problems.  I'm guessing registry probs/spyware/virus?  Try downloading something like spybot from safer-networking, update it, and run a sweep.  Then download something with a registry repair tool, like system mechanic 4.  Both can be downloaded for free, sys mech is a 30 day trial.  Also, right click on my computer, click on the hardware tab, then device manager, and see if any of your components don't have the right driver installed.  If you have internet access, run windows update and ensure you have all of the patches that you should have.  If you just installed windows 2K, there are a ton of updates.  If you right click on my computer, then click on properties, the dialog box that pops up should indicate that you are running Windows 2000 Professional SERVICE PACK 4. If it doesn't say service pack 4, you are VERY open to getting infected with a virus.  Even if you have SP4, still run windows update to ensure you have all of the latest patches that are out there.  If you don't have SP4, installing it should be the very first thing you should do.

Then, for the sharing problem...just want to make sure I have this can't access a printer that is shared on a W98 machine?  If it's the other way around, then you have to log on to W98 with a username and password combo that is a valid logon combo on the W2k machine itself.  If it is the first way, then you likely have other issues, such as stated above.

Me personally, I've seen XP running on PIIs before, but I wouldn't recommend it.  In that particular setup in your office with that machine, I'd just stick with 2K.
I would suggest reformatting and starting will take less than a day to install....If you need to work...scrap the project and start over...this time don't mess around too much at least not on your sole work computer.

jcacholaAuthor Commented:
yes, tis true I did mess around, thinking I could...If I reformat, I had wanted to upgrade to WindowsXP.  The problem is 2 of the 5 computers at work are running Windows98 systems and from what I gather through microsoft knowledge base, it appears that XP is incompatible with 98 systems and I would have problems sharing files with them.  Is this true?  I think the context was in a network/server environment.  We don't have a server per se, just peer-to-peer, sharing files.
What do you think.

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It should work...there are some annoyances in trying to use XP on a non-domain network...a.k.a. using workgroups....nothing impossible but you will most likely run into some issues.  I suggest going with WIndows 2000.  You need to use your PC, if you need to get work done use what you should be simple now that you know how to setup printing and file sharing with no are asking for trouble if you use XP and are expecting on working right away as you never know what problems might be encountered...just a suggestion...but use Win2k and get to work and play around on an extra computer or wait till you don't have so much work...

jcacholaAuthor Commented:
Well I guess 2K it is.  Actually I was informed today that I have Pentium III, not II, but the PII is the one that shows up in the system folder in control panel.  Maybe PIII could?  Although I do hear what you guys are saying.  

Jehrico, I forgot to mention that I do have spyware (adaware and spydoctor); I also have Norton Antivirus 2004 loaded.  All are updated and used regularly...because, yes, I did have a virus/spyware problem...perhaps I still do.  I didn't run hijack yet, but I had to on my home computer and of course, many file transfers between the two computers, so had to have some protection at work.  I'm not at work now, so I'll try the registry repair tool and will do spybot too tomorrow.

Regarding 2K updates...yes, it is current (I checked again yesterday).

Regarding the printer sharing problem, apparently the printers are so old that the drivers only work with the windows98 machines.  So my computer has to print through one of those computers (which operates like a server--it's the extra computer that is hooked up for use of the scanner).  When I tried to Add a Network Printer it automatically brought up the icons for the printers and I simply clicked on them to load onto my folder and it was working fine.  However, since I accidently deleted the file, I can't get it back--all I get is the Client for Microsoft Networks icon, but can't open it and nothing under it shows up.  I can see and I can load the printer icon I need when I add a local printer, through the ICP/TP port, but it doesn't work when I try to print.  I should add that now none of the printers I loaded works (there are 3 printers).

Last thing, I forgot to mention that when the screen freezes and I run Task Manager, I noticed that the CPU usage is always so high, like 100%---it goes down after, but something kicks it way up--and may be what is contributing to the freeze effect.

Rob StoneConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Try running SFC /SCANNOW from the run box. This will repair any corrupted Windows protected files.

Check your network settings against another compuer
Right Click on My Network Places and select properties, then click on TCP/IP and Properties and check everything in their. You may need to have Use NetBIOS over TCP/IP enabled.

What happens if you try to access the admin share on a PC (ie, \\computer1\c$)? Does it prompt for a password and user name?
jcacholaAuthor Commented:
Leaving to go to work now, but in the meantime, can you explain your last instructions?  I don't know what you mean.  Admin share?  computer1?  c$?  I was using an administrator username.  The other "administrator" is on maternity leave.

Rob StoneCommented:
Every machine has an admin share built in.

When you go into sharing on the C: or D: there will be a C$ or D$ for example. These are admin sharess.  If you type the computername and admin share of the hdd from the run box you should get prompted for a User Id & Password, ie
Start > Run > '\\Computer1\C$'
You would then type the administrator details of that PC, but if you are getting that prompt then you are getting far enough for authentication on the workgroup.

Also, when the screen freezes and the CPU is at 100%, what process is hogging the CPU?
jcacholaAuthor Commented:
Sorry for the delay in response.  My boss got a computer tech to come in and check out the problem.  He too was baffled by all of the symptoms, but in the end analysis, he just went into the properties of the networking card and uninstalled everything.  He followed the restart instructions whenever it was prompted.  Then reinstalled everything and all connections, printer drivers, etc. was in place.  Still don't know why it was freezing up...all I know is that it's not doing it anymore...the computer runs faster, and all is well.  

I also used the same approach in on my home computers because my laptop was not being recognized in the workgrounp.  It proved successful there too.

But I did run spybots and the SFC /SCANNOW and I think they both helped.  I'm sticking with the 2K, based on your recommendations.  Thanks to all.

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