A lengthy opening question with an introduction and thanks in advance (hopefully).

I am experiencing some problems with my computer, I have an e-machines 5220, with Windows XP. I am fairly lacking in knowledge with computers though I am willing to understand more. So please be kind!

I mainly use the comp for games and installed The Sims about 10 days ago. I then (foolishly) visited some websites and downloaded new skins and objects.

There was an issue with unzipping the files as my partner had already downloaded a program to unzip (Winrar) and the trial period had expired. I looked into it...realised we didn't even need it as XP has an unzipper and so tried to uninstall it. It won't go!

So I searched on google, found a program which claimed to clean up hard drives inc programs which won't uninstall. I downloaded this as a trial version (Ace) and ran it. It still didn't remove the dodgy file and seems now to have caused undue chaos.

I also tried to manually delete the still unzipped files in the Sims game and reinstall that. It won't install at all. I panicked....and went to an earlier system restore point. No joy...and by this point I have no idea whats going on. Demo programs that were unistalled have reappeared due to going back to an earlier system checkpoint and bits of programs are still hanging around.

I tried to uninstall these using the add/remove programs but I think that by this point in the disaster so many bits are missing and mixed up that it won't let me uninstall anything giving me various error mesages for the different programs and causing add/remove programs to freeze up. So I tried to uninstall them manually.

Can you guess the rest? It's a mess, I want to completely reinstall XP but my partner has many, many hours of music on here and it will be expensive to buy something to back it up on. Is there an easier way to find the solution?

just reinstall winrar and try uninstalling it then .... I think you just deleted its uninstall log file by chance ... and its staying there now without uninstalling support.

Sounds like you've really got it screwed up.

Get a bunch of CD-Rs (the cheap ones are good enough) and back up your hard drive. When that's done, you can format and reinstall. Do NOT COPY programs back on to the hard drive from your backup, REINSTALL them. Copy your data files back to where they belong on the hard drive. You may lose a program's organization of the music files by doing this, but what good does it do if you can't use the computer anyway?

I'm trying to avoid having to reinstall the whole system if I can...and it works as long as I don't want to uninstall these messed up programs!

Is running a program to clean up the registry keys a good idea? and with reference to reinstalling a dodgy program...does this usual solve uninstalling problems?