I am running Windows Vista on a Dell XPS 410 desktop. I came back to the computer this morning and noticed it was off. I moved the mouse to get it out of sleep mode and it stayed off. I then restarted but it wouldn't open Windows so I started it in safe mode. It did start and when I went to reboot in normal mode it started, but then, about 20 minutes later, it crashed. This had happened a number of times so I tried to do a system restore and it wouldn't let me with very recent restore points. It did let me with a restore point that was about 2 months old.
Nonetheless, it keeps crashing. I get a blue error screen that shuts down very quickly and before I can read the whole thing, and the system reboots. I then noticed that my McAfee antivirus software had picked up a questionable item and asked me to quarantine it, which I did. Afterwards, the crashing had happened less frequently but still happens.
I had noticed that there are a number of ghosted system files in my document folders that weren't there before. Many are .tmp files. Windows says I shouldn't delete them because they are system files and could cause instability but they appear to be ghosted duplicates of files that work.
One other thing, when rebooting the first time, it sounded like the hard drive was running too fast. That never happened again.
It appears that my Windows operating system has destabilized. My question is I don't want to lose everything on the system. I did save all the document files I need. If I were to use the Dell recovery disk, wouldn't that wipe out my whole hard drive? I don't want to do that. Is there some way of restoring Windows Vista without wiping the drive clean?
I think the computer gods are telling me it's about time I go out and buy an new system but this works fine . . . when it works. Not sure what is the best way to bring this system back to stability.