About a week ago my computer showed signs of being infected with spyware or adware or something. Since then I've had a series of small problems leading up to what I hope isn't a BIG problem.
So, last week I was getting re-directed online to spam pages and stuff like that. I had some trouble getting rid of it, and following various sources of online advice I ran AVG, Malwarebytes and some other programs. Eventually I got rid of that problem, but then every time I'd boot up I'd get a message saying "Error loading: C:\WINDOWS/ipwuie.dll (...) the specified module could not be found." (I think that was the result of a conflict between AVG and Malwarebites. One of the programs asked if I wanted to delete some dll file and I said OK, and ever since I've had that pop-up message.) Trying to get to the source of THAT problem, I've run Free Windows Registry Repair, CCleaner and many other programs I don't even remember anymore...
Which leads us to the bigger problem. Somewhere in there, in addition to the dll error message, my computer started showing the message "Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close" about 50% of the time, when I first boot up. I get the message, but then after I click it, it goes away and my computer seems to operate normally. My chief concern is that this minor inconvenience could be a sign of something more serious. (And I should make it very clear this is WINDOWS EXPLORER, not Internet Explorer. People seem to get confused about the difference. My main browser is Firefox.)
I've downloaded updates for AVG, Malwarebites and the latest Windows security updates, I've followed the advice on this page (http://www.ehow.com/how_6604217_fix-encountered-problem-needs-close_.html
) and run a SCANNOW registry scan (it never asked me to insert Windows disks or anything). I've tried one thing after another, treating this like a virus, spyware, adware, a rootkit problem, a registry problem and everything else I can think of, and the message just won't stop appearing.
I'm really hoping to avoid re-installing Windows. It seems like there must be some other way to fix this. At the very least, I'm hoping this is just something I can ignore and it's not a big, dangerous symptom... I've already spent way too much time trying to figure this out, I'm ready to move on!
Can anybody help?