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Yes, your recovery discs will re-partition your hard drive. As long as they were created from your computer or bought from HP direct. This will however lose any software and files you have put on the system since you bought it. Beware!! :)
connect your hard drive to other computer and then have it clean by scanning with antivirus. and then copy the important files on it to the working computer. after copying the files thats the time to return back the original hardrive to the dell dimension and then reformat and reinstall the system again again. please use original operating from dell or what ever is applicable.
I guess it could be a virus, avast is not the best antivirus in my opinion, try to get a norton antivirus or NOD32 update it and run the scan, it ocuurs when a replicating virus copies files to all your HDD and is always busy...making system busy...and one more thing there could easily be a copy of the virus in your pen drive as well...
First copy all your wanted data onto a CD / DVD (DVD RW best) and then once you've reformated your pc copy them back onto your desktop
The next option would be to buy an external harddrive. These are great because you can just move all the data you want back and force between your computer and external harddrive. This might be your best choice but it is a bit more costly
Maybe I can help;
When I install a new hard drive I like to re-install the operating system (OS) as well. Unfortunatly this wipes out all your files.
Typically when files do not copy it's either because they're in use or the media (your new hard drive) is not formatted properly.
Note, formatting erases everything on the drive being formatted.
Instruction for this are easy to find online but are all done for you if you use the OS install CD which will walk you through the setup, formatting, and partitioning.
If you have a way to save your files to another drive such as a usb thumb drive, external hard drive, cd or dvd, I would go about it that way. There's usually alot of uneeded files created by the operating system after a period of time and there's no sense in keeping them. They only slow your system down.
One other thing you can consider if you don't have an external hard drive is purchasing a hard drive enclosure for your old hard drive. You can find them at Best Buy. I paid about $30. Its just a case and usb cord you can use as an external hard drive and also copy any files you can still access on this old drive over to your new one.