Ok, this is a long one because I figure I should give you all the background.
The computer involved has Windows XP Pro SP2 with all operating system updates through 10/13/06. Early in November, I stopped using this computer, disconnecting it from mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc., while loading some software on another computer in the same location. The computer was off when I disconnected these devices, including its wireless card, though I later learned it had turned itself off via 'hibernation', something I only realized when I rebooted it today.
Before booting, I reattached all the external devices and reinstalled the wireless network card (PCI) that had been in the machine the last time it was used, though probably in a different PCI slot than before. I also manually installed a SCSI Port card (PCI) and plugged in a CD-Rom that had been disconnected when the machine was last in use. There are three IDE drives, and the CD-Rom drive was spotted automatically by the BIOS (I made sure by initializing the BIOS menu and noting that all the drives were properly identified) at bootup....Windows loaded ('resumed') and the desktop came up normally. At this point, the operating system seemed to be cranking very slowly, and the mouse wasn't working (it is a USB that had to be replugged-in when I wanted to resume using this machine), and nothing much seemed to be happening, so I reset the computer, and reentered in SAFE mode.
At this point, however, I got an error message "recycle bin on drive E is corrupted...do you want to delete?". I said 'yes' because the E drive, which was in the machine when last in use, in the same position, is not an important drive (it just has some backups on it). The operating system then finished loading, the mouse was now working, and I got "new hardware found" messages, one for both of the new devices (wireless network card and scsi card). I attempted to install the devices, using the original installation disks for each via the 'new hardware' wizard (directing the wizard to the appropriate driver folders), but each time the wizard finished I was informed that it was unable to read or load (I forget the exact language) the file from the disc I directed it to.
I checked that these installation discs (one on the floppy drive, the other on the CD-Rom) could be read fine, and they could. After rebooting normally (not SAFE mode) I tried to install the drivers and had the same results. At this point I attempted to use System Restore, thinking that I had somehow corrupted some basic operating system files by coming back from hibernation while introducing one new device, and one old device in a different PCI slot, and for all I knew, by deleting the E-drive's recycle bin contents. I got the error message "An exception occurred while trying to run "C:\Windows\System32\Shell32.dll,Control....."etc. Looking this up on the internet, I discovered that the usual cure for this problem is to reinstall the System Restore service. So I found the "sr.inf" file in "Windows\Inf" folder, right mouse clicked on 'install', and directed the installation program to my XP Pro disk's "i386" folder. It then gave me an error message "Setup cannot copy the file srclient.dl_". I looked into this and discovered that this was probably because I have Service Pack 2 installed, and so I needed to use the files from the 'i386' subfolder in the "Windows\ServicePackFiles" folder. So I reran the installation and directed it to that location, but ran aground when it reported "Setup cannot copy the file srclient.dll".
At this point, I am afraid to do anything to the system until I've heard from an expert. The operating system seems to be working fine other than failing to install the wireless card properly (I removed the SCSI card since I don't really need it now). What should I do at this point?
Flummoxed in Boulder......