Advice Re: files-reformat & W2k clean install

I came home from a trip Friday to find my system/OS trashed by one of my husband's undergrads who to tried to "fix" something on the system.  I have no idea what was wrong since it was humming last Monday when I left.  The only clues I have are:

System freeze (repeated)
Possible bad shut down; scandisk ran repeatedly on reboot
Frequent IE crashes with ntdll.dll as the problem module
Idiot undergrad made NO NOTES about what he was doing
Now I have 2 copies of W2k on the C drive
Copy 1 (new) boots OK but to a bare-bones system (I can access folders from OS #2)
Copy 2 (original) loops endlessly from start-up/logon/loading settings/saving settings
Holding Shift enables Administrator password, but loop begins again
Symptoms persist even in Safe Mode

I tried my ERD, repair install of W2k, and nothing worked.  Two days is enough hair pulling, I'm ready to do a clean install of the OS, etc.  It's been several years since I've done this, so I'm concerned I am overlooking some prep I may need to do.  I have all MS Office docs, pst files, etc. backed up, but I may be overlooking something(s) that I'll be PO'd about later and the less time I spend re-creating, the faster my husband will be out of the dog house.  ;-)

I would also appreciate any advice about the installation including hardware, drivers, software, etc.  The system includes:

Dell XPS R400 (P2)
768 Mb RAM
Maxtor 20 GB HD (D: NTFS/data)
Seagate 250 MB HD (C: NTFS/system/apps/data)
Toshiba DVD ROM SD-M1202 (installation CD MIA/in moving box)
Yamaha CRW-F1E (installation CD MIA/in moving box-includes Ahead/Nero)
Iomega 100 Zip (haven’t used in years)
Floppy drive
Belkin 7 port USB hub
Motorola Surfboard SB5120 USB Cable Modem
NVidia Riva 128/128 ZX
Dell D1028L Monitor
MS Natural Keyboard Elite
IBM wireless mouse
Canoscan FB5-3238 (Canon scanner)
HP 1320 laser printer

Windows 2000 Pro (I have SP 1 and 2 on CDs)
MS Office 2003 Pro
MS Frontpage
MS Project
Panda AV
Registry Mechanic

If I’ve missed any information you need, let me know.  Thank you VERY much!
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r-kConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It seems likely that you don't have a network card at all, but are connecting to the cable modem via the USB port. In that case cancel my comment about needing a network card driver, but make sure you have the CD or instructions for getting the network working via the usb/cable modem hookup.

When you reinstall 2000, you will have a choice of selecting a new (third) folder to install it in. If things go smoothly after that and you are satisfied that things are running well, you can just delete the other two system folders. Seems like your C: drive is big enough so space should not be an issue. You may be left with a choice of booting three different ways at each reboot, but that's easily fixed by editing the hidden file boot.ini in the c:\ root folder.

Generally speaking a clean install of 2000 is pretty straightforward. You hardware seems newer than 2000 so you will have to hunt separately for many drivers. The network and video are probably the most important, so if you can be prepared with those the rest should fall into place in due course.

SP4 for Win/2000 is here:
(caution: 129 MB)

Editing the boot.ini file:

Since you have a Dell, and have made careful notes about the hardware, you should have no trouble downloading drivers from the Dell Support site. The most important hardware item I see missing from your list above is the model of your network card. Once you have that driver working (after a clean install) you can always use it to download any others.

If you want to avoid the risk of losing important files, you can consider a clean install of Win/2000 without a format of your hard drive. You may want to have SP4 on a CD handy so you can install that immediately before connecting to the net. Besides the normal docs and data files, people most often overlook email files, email attachments, web browser favorites when doing backups.

This may be an opportunity to move to XP from 2000. XP installs are usually easier then 2000, and it also works better for the most part.

Cardiff-DreamingAuthor Commented:

Sorry, I'm on a laptop and cannot access the Dell right now to answer your network card question.  It originally came with a 3Com 56k modem.  I connect the cable modem through a USB port.  Your point about the IE favorites is a good example of my concerns.  Although I did remember to back them up, I can't shake the feeling that there are other "details" I'm forgetting.

If I do a clean install of Win/2000, will that remove/replace the TWO copies of Win/2000 on my drive?  Finally, I plan to move to XP later this summer when I purchase a new desktop.
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Cardiff-DreamingAuthor Commented:
I almost forgot - is there a preferred "order" to installing software after the OS is installed with SP's?
"is there a preferred "order" to installing software"

There is no hard-and-fast rule, but I usually do the following:

 Service Pack
 Essential drivers (network, video)
 Connect to network and do a Windows Update (Internet Explorer -> Tools -> Windows Update)
 Application software
 AV and anti-spyware
 Get MS Office updates from:
 (you will need the Office CD for this last)
 Repeat the Windows Update with IE
Cardiff-DreamingAuthor Commented:

"You may be left with a choice of booting three different ways at each reboot, but that's easily fixed by editing the hidden file boot.ini in the c:\ root folder."

I've done repairs in the past editing the boot.ini, but have always had text to 'copy and paste'.  Where would I find a specific example to copy (or should I save that as a new question for when I'm ready for it)?  Also, I wondered if there was any data in the 'Documents and Settings' folders I should preserve?  

I'm going to sign off for the night - I have to get some sleep tonight (I haven't had much since this all started)!  I'll check back in the morning.  Thank you so much for your help!
Re. boot.ini I would not worry at this point. The link I cited above has some detail, but if you do run into a specific question just post the contents of the boot.ini and I or someone else can suggest the specific edit. In any case it won't hinder you very much.

"if there was any data in the 'Documents and Settings' folders I should preserve?"

Yes, there may be things there you don't want to lose. If you have the space, I would just make a copy of the folder named "c:\documents and settings\<your-user-name>\" and all sub-folders within. This is by way of a precaution. I think what happens when you install Win/2000 in a new folder is that Windows creates new folders within "c:\documents and settings" with a slightly modified version of your username, but leaving the original folders intact. However, it's been a while since I did exactly what you're planning, so better be safe and copy the entire folder that has your username.

If you keep track of backups you made, you can easily delete them later when no longer needed.

Good luck.
Cardiff-DreamingAuthor Commented:

Sorry for taking so long to post.  Your instructions were flawless - they just didn't take into consideration my cat smacking the keyboard just as I was ready to install.  Though I still don't know what key she hit, the result was my old installation was repaired sufficiently to access just about anything I might need.  

Anyway, I did a clean install and reinstalled all my apps.  This puppy is humming -  I can't thank you enough!  Your advice reduced the 'fear factor' from 100+ to 0.  Be well and thank you.
LOL, I'll remember that one. I just knew where you thump the side of the CPU three times to get it running.....

Thanks and good luck :)
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