Well, I've gotten myself into another fix.

This time, I compressed old files on my laptop as prompted to by winXP, so i could get some more space, etc.

The problem is, somewhere along the lines, it either compressed or deleted a vital dll file that windows needs to start up. everytime I start the computer, it immediately goes to a black screen saying that I have to install that file again oir windows cannot run.

Usually i'd just wipe it and reinstall XP, but it's a family computer with files on it that they didn't bother to back up anywhere else.

Any ideas on how you can either re-install that file, or XP without losing data?

A compressed dll file is still available for use. What, exactly, is the dll file's name?

Sounds like a spyware or malware infestation to me? Have you tried booting in 'Safe mode'? If it loads to desktop in Safe mode it's most likely a net nasty you've picked up somewhere which has caused a problem. Compressing files would not have caused this.

It wont even let me boot in safe mode. immediately after i turn it on, BAM, black screen that says

<windows root>/system32/hal.dll is either missing or corrupted.

what can I do?

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