You may be infected. The AOL software is buggy. There could be several reasons, actually.
A repair install of Windows may not be that painful (if you haven't already tried this, not sure from what you wrote).
But first try this. Have your Windows disk handy, go to Start > Run and type in "sfc /scannow" without the quotes. It may prompt you for your disk. This will take a while, so let it run it's course. That may be enough to fix the problem. If not:
Insert your Windows Disk (or 'operating system' disk), reboot, computer should boot from the disk. At the first opportunity say you want to install windows. Then at the second opportunity select 'R' for repair. This will reinstall windows without affecting your programs and data, at least theoretically.
NOTE: At the first opportunity (when you should say you want to install windows) you will be given an option of choosing 'R' for starting up the Recovery Console. This is NOT what you want.
A last resort would be to reformat and reinstall windows. But reformatting may not be enough. You should first run KillDisk as this will wipe out any infections. Then you must run a DOS disk and run fdisk, just choosing all of the default selections as presented to you. Then you can boot to the Windows CD and reinstall.
Do you have highspeed internet? Then you don't need AOL software at all, and yet you can still access your AOL mailbox, etc.
Edited by Albert Frankenstein, 28 February 2006 - 01:05 PM.