thanks for the reply, and informatiion on usb 1.1 and hard disk enclosure.
regarding the warning, i didn't actually ignore it. having never seen the s.m.a.r.t. msg before and knowing zero about it, i went online and reviewed various posts on the subject. all others facing the same problem had disabled s.m.a.r.t. in bios and continued using the computer. none had any further difficulty, inc one using the same machine five years later. a computer tech on one board said he encountered the warning pretty often, but it seldom (once in five years in his case) indicated a true hard drive failure.
disabling s.m.a.r.t. did the trick and got me back to the desktop. i should have backed up right away, but couldn't until later. my mistake was the defrag, which resulted in the cdi32.dll error. i learned it's a common occurence after defragging in ME, and reinstallation is the only solution. had i not disabled s.m.a.r.t. i would have faced the same situation, however.
i still think running a defrag is basic, and should not cause problems that require reinstalling the os. like i said the cdi32 error is common, and not related to the s.m.a.r.t. issue.
it sounds like buying a new drive and os are my only options at this point. i wish there was another way to back up the old drive other than using usb 1.1 and hard disk enclosure - i'll defintely need help to pull that off!
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