This is an older computer: a P4 1.7 with 512 MB RAM. two physical HDs [C and D]. Running XP Pro SP2. Comcast's online McAfee AV allegedly running.
OK, here's what happened:
I downloaded an mp3 via uTorrent. Immediately got a system32.dll error and the computer shut down on me. The computer would not boot in safe mode, safe mode with networking or safe with command prompt. Booting to normal Windows XP Pro, I would get an immedate same error and the computer would shut down and reboot. I never had a chance to get to a stable Windows environment to run any anti-malware application -- it just errors and reboots.
After several attempts just to get into Windows to run anti-malware software, the computer freezes at the initial startup screen [E-Machines -- it's an old computer]. I hear PC speaker beeps every 20 seconds or so. Rebooting and going to CMOS setup, I see that Bios sees NO primary master HD, and the secondary master is just gobbledygook characters. I tried an auto-detect on the primary master and no HD was seen. I turned it off and am crying for help.
Anybody got any suggestions? I could just reformat and start over, but there is a lot of data on these HDs that I would like to recover.