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My family has a dell desktop with xp we got years ago. It's gone through the gauntlet of being used by kids (including me) with just IE and some antiviruses (recently norton, had another one before that), which overlapped for a while until I uninstalled it (dad's ok in tech use, but he doesn't really like doing anything unless the comp is beyond use), for protection. So we have norton 360 and IE, with firefox installed but no one uses that -.- Anyway, we've had problems with flash drives, where we'll put it in, pull something up, and MS explorer crashes and reboots. I've found I could copy things to the desktop and then run em from there, but it really doesn't like flash drives, any of them we've collectively tried. And now we have a printer problem, where apparently it won't accept the new ink cartridge.
The options my parents are considering are ... meh. Get a new printer. Take the printer I have (I don't use it much) and use it for this computer (I have a laptop so it's not really a problem). However I don't like the idea of having it plugged into that computer, considering its problem with flash drives, and now the problem with printer ink cartridges that it passed onto the printer. Unless the printer developed that problem by itself, which I doubt.
Anyway, I bet there is a pretty obvious solution to these problems (I've considered suggesting wiping the HDD and reinstalling everything, but idk how viable that is considering how much random stuff is on there and how little interest anyone has in doing anything with the comp considering everyone but my mom has a comp they can use. My dad and/or I would also have to look for the install disks ...). I'm just not sure what to look for. So uh, little help here?
TLDR; 5-8 year old comp, xp, norton 360, IE, kid users, problem working flash drives and now printer ink cartridges, help?
If the computer and it's HD's contents aren't of any great value - I'd backup whatever stuff might be useful or have some sentimental value (via the Ethernet port if you don't trust USB), find the Recovery CD and do a fresh install of XP. Also check Dell's support site for updated drivers and apps.
BTW - the Windows install files are probably on the Hard Drive in a hidden partition, so whatever you do - don't re-partition and format the drive.
Some manufacturers are mean enough to build region locks into their printers to prevent people from using cheaper imported cartridges. Have you tried setting up the printer on another computer to see if it has the same problem?
What GreyGhost said, although I'd avoid using the Recovery CD or partition, since they'll probably set you back to some nasty old version of XP (perhaps even pre-SP1) and then you'd have to download like a GB worth of updates. Better get hold of an XP SP3 CD, and do a "repair installation" (Let the installer progress to the point where you choose where to install, and select "repair" instead of just "install"). N.B.: This is NOT the same as the recovery console.
It will go through what seems like a fresh installation, but in the end you will have a refreshed copy of XP, with all new SP3-level files, and your apps and settings will all be in-place. After that, do a defrag with a decent utility like Jkdefrag, get rid of 360, and install Avast Home (it's free for personal use, less intrusive, and more effective).
Also, before you do that, grab all-new drivers for EVERY device you have.
As for the printer, if it's not an old HP that accepts large cartridges but is a nasty EPSON with all kinds of protection chips....ditch it without a second thought.