Hey boop and the forum, wanted to let you all know what has transpired in the last 72 hours for me in relation to my OP.
I checked out the link boop posted about re-installing XP without an OEM CD. Guess what? It worked, with a few mods. The path to the i386 folder wasn't as easy as described in the article, I had to search for it. Even when I did do a search I got back about 5 different folder/file matches and then I had to dissect them out. But once I double-clicked the appropriate icon, what do you know, I got prompted to re-install XP. I had to input the OEM key which was the hardest part of the whole thing.
The re-install took about 40 minutes without ANY hiccups.
After the install is when it got dicey. I managed to re-install all of my programs except two, Wordperfect and my most important one, Autocad. I'm still working on that.
But the weird thing is, somehow a carbon copy of my C: drive was created. I found this out when running Malwarebytes, Avast and Superantispyware scans once the install was done. I was seeing files being scanned that I didn't recognize from earlier when exploring the HD. I'm not kidding, all my doc's, pic's, videos, etc where still there, only somewhere else, like the HD was partitioned or something....it's not by the way, well, I'm fairly sure it's not.
After running the above scans I was able to eliminate about 700 adware cookies, (which isn't that big of a deal), 5 trojans, 4 malware and 1 of something I don't remember. If you recall from my initial post I wasn't able to run full and complete A/V, malware, etc scans in normal mode, only while running in "Safe Mode". And from what I learned from a poster in this thread, you don't get the complete and thorough scan with that method.
I also had a PITA with all the updates that MS wanted to download after the re-install of XP. Remember, the XP version that was installed on this HD is over 5 years old, so you can imagine the updates waiting in line wanting to install. The hardest part I had is after updating with the SP3, I couldn't get IE7 to fire.
Prior to all this I was sure to keep very detailed notes on how things progressed during the re-install and MS updates. I also created many restore points along the way ensuring my possible backtrack without losing too much work. So get this, I finally got fed up with IE not loading after I did the SP3 pack install so I downloaded Firefox. Here's where it gets weird, after downloading Firefox, re-boot, IE and Firefox load. I didn't restore prior to installing Firefox if it matters. I personally prefer FF, but the wife is used to IE. I'm certain if she wants to get on the net she will learn to be happy with FF!!!
This is the only question I have, if you can believe it. I can't seem to locate the folder where this "carbon copy" of my C: drive is located. I can get close when looking at the path shown while scanning, but only a partial amount of the path can be traced. I'm suspecting this has something to do with hidden files, but I can't find it.
I hope this helps those that may be experiencing the same problem.
I thank you all for your thoughts and problem solving posts.