It all started—I think—when I tried to install MagicDisc about a week ago. It gave me a warning, "This program has known compatibility issues". I thought I pressed "Cancel", but I must have accidentally run the program. It installed, opened, and when I tried to mount a disc image with it, nothing happened. So I tried to close it. It was locked.
Then I tried loading the image with a different program. No dice. At that time I also found that TruCrypt froze up whenever I tried to mount an encrypted volume. I unistalled MagicDisc and tried again to use TrueCrypt, which promptly froze up again.
At that point, explorer.exe borked. I couldn't open any folders. I closed explorer.exe in Task Manager, started it again from command prompt, and I still couldn't open anything. I can get things to happen via command, but not in the GUI. So decided to reboot. That's when the shutdown issues started. It hung on "Logging Out" for about a half hour, so I did a cold reboot, and tried again to get a healthy boot. Same problem. I shut it off AGAIN, went into safe mode, and tried to reboot. This time it logged me out, but hung on "Shutting down". I left it overnight. It never shut down. The following day I tried using msconfig to get a clean boot. It did not help. This problem has persisted ever since.
Before I go on, I should mention that during this process I ran rkill.exe, AdwCleaner, and JRT. I do not believe that I have any viruses or malware on my computer.
After that reboot, I decided not to try to use any virtual drives for the time being. Instead I tried to open iTunes. An iTunes process would open in task manager for the old version, but it would not open the program. Eventually I decided to uninstall iTunes. It worked, but I couldn't reinstall. Windows installer opens, starts the installation, and hangs up. Then it is impossible to close, even if I terminate the process! Apparently, it is sometimes necessary to individually uninstall multiple Apple programs in order to update or reinstall iTunes, but that doesn't work either!
I tried going to Control Panel to remove programs, in accordance with this guide. Apple Software Updater doesn't uninstall. I tried to close Windows Installer. It didn't close, so I tried ending the process in taskmanager. It wouldn't end!
At that point, explorer.exe borked again and I was forced to reboot.
After the reboot, I went to the registry and I can't find it there, but it's still isted under programs. I tried a third party uninstaller (Perfect Uninstaller v188.8.131.52). It gets hung up in the registry.
I tried using Windows's "Program Install and Uninstall troubleshooter". It gets stuck here: http://imgur.com/Ut1wzmn
Finally I decided to do a System Restore. And wouldn't you know it—the System Restore utility won't open! At all! Not from normal mode, not in safe mode. And since I can't mount a drive (USB or virtual), I can't do a System Restore from boot either!
So to recap: I can't uninstall the programs necessary to update iTunes. I can't restart normally, from normal mode or safemode. Programs refuse to terminate, even when I end the processes. Explorer periodically borks. System Restore refuses to start. I can't mount USB or virtual drives, so I can't restore from boot.
It's like I'm playing Solitaire and all my aces are buried under deuces.
Please help. I've gotten my most precious files saved on Google Drive, but I REALLY don't want to lose everything else.