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Try this before you do a full format.
Don't reformat your hard drive, do this to restore a clean working registry.
Boot to a real-mode DOS command prompt by holding down F8 while powering up and selecting "Command Prompt Only."
From the DOS prompt, issue the following commands:
CD \
You just created a usable copy of your machine's original Registry settings. Next, merge those settings into the current Windows Registry that's causing problems. Enter: REGEDIT MY.REG.
The next time you boot into Windows 95 or 98, the system will behave as though you had just performed a refresh installation. It will rerun the Plug-and-Play hardware detection wizard and reinitialize the desktop. But Windows will also retain the cumulative program information on software and hardware that you've added since the original installation.
This trick takes 5 to 10 minutes to execute. On most Windows machines, it usually resolves shutdown problems, fixes power management problems, correctly reconfigures hardware peripherals and banishes general protection faults--preserving program information, the Internet history cache, and desktop settings. This trick won't solve problems caused by corrupt drivers or program files or an improperly installed application. If performance doesn't improve, you'll need to completely reinstall Windows.
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