How do I fix a "lost" HP file that enables all the programs to run?

Please note - this question is related to a different PC to the one that is discussed in a previous question.

I have an HP desktop PC which is about 4 years old.  Apart from being a bit slow, it has been running fine until a couple of weeks ago - when it suddenly stopped recognising the majority of programs.  When populating the desktop - all the programs come up with blank folder icons, instead of their program related ones.  I then get a series of error messages saying the files (those meant to run on start up) can't be opened because windows doesn't know what program was used to create them and they all have an Ink extension, instead of the correct one.  I have checked and the programs are still all there on the hard drive, and I have tried to use system restore, but all of the HP tools have suffered the same fate - and have an Ink extension and can't be opened.  I also tried to reformat the PC, but the blue HP screen no longer appears on start-up, when you are meant to activitate the reformat command.  
Is the PC irrepairable, or can I fix it, or is it worth my while taking it to some to fix?
Lisa50540Asked:
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souseranCommented:
Sounds like the HP utility partition might have gotten lost or corrupted, but would like to rule out malware first. Download install and run:

HiJackThis: http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/programs.php#hijackthis

Rootkit Revealer: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/utilities/RootkitRevealer.mspx

Post the logs. After that, if you have the system disks, can you run a diagnostic?
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Lisa50540Author Commented:
Thanks, but I can't download anything on this PC as the wireless internet adapter won't run (same problem).  Can I download it on another PC to a memory stick and transfer it over?
And I don't think I have any system disks - I bought the PC new but everything was preloaded
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nobusbiljart fanCommented:
you can download spybot and Hijackthis on another PC, and run them.
Spybot : download  these :
Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.5.1 -
Detection updates 2007-10-10
Tools update 2007-08-01
Advanced check library update 2007-01-19

http://www.spychecker.com/program/hijackthis.html                                   download Hijackthis
http://www.hijackthis.de/index.php?langselect=english                                check the log
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nobusbiljart fanCommented:
also - check if you can boot normally in safe mode (hit F8 key during boot) then you can run all programs
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souseranCommented:
Rootkit Revealer can be downloaded to a USB hey as well. The link I provided above gives information on the application, instructions, and includes a download link. Here is just the download link:

http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/RootkitRevealer.zip
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ridCommented:
The .lnk extension is for shortcut files, it's totally normal, but it is not normal that windows can't handle them.

If possible, navigate to a program's .exe file and double-click it, see what happens, or try running a command from the "Run" menu.

There used to be a virus that cut the understanding of .exe files from windows and that was a quite unpleasant story. Was some time ago, though. An off-line virus check might come in handy here (boot off a CD that has AV on it, if possible).
/RID
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phototropicCommented:
As per nobus' post, the Spybot download is hereL:

http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/

Download the update, install it on your poorly pc, update it and run it.
Also, as has been suggested several times, a HijackThis scan log would be very helpful...
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rpggamergirlCommented:
It could be a file associations problem or it could also be a virus. Virut virus is a file infector that recently been doing this.

If you have access to another pc with internet connection;
You can download some scanners to scan your pc or download hijackthis as already suggested and show us the log.

Here are fixes for file associations, .lnk and or .exe
http://www.dougknox.com/xp/file_assoc.htm

.lnk file associations fix:
http://www.dougknox.com/xp/fileassoc/linkfile_fix.zip

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Computer101Commented:
Forced accept.

Computer101
EE Admin
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