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Folder contents gone

Am despairing about where Ive gone with my laptop. Began when I changed from IE5 to Firefox. All working well but I decided moronically to uninstall and delete IE files. I seem to have deleted more than that. Problems are folders such as C drive and control panel are missing their icons. Thought that System Restore would be a good idea, but when I open folder I can see no contents and therefore cant run it. Cannot move icons to copy essential backup files to flash key, afraid to use Dell reinstallation CD in case I lose everything on my hard disc. What do I do? Am a simple doctor and am out of my depth more than anytime in my ER... Any help would be much appreciated

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folder contents

Phone tec support at dell they will help reformat your dell computer even if its past the warranty period. I have found them to be very helpful.

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thanks coffeeman

thanks, but managed to dig myself out.
I had deleted a registry file, and system restore was affected.
managed to restore in dos, helped by boot disk download

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