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More than likely the Adobe Illustrator Settings folder got corrupt and the font cache probably also. Try visiting Jacobs page on this subject of moving the settings folder.
if you know how to repair the permissions that would be helpful as well.
Recently I had a bad sector on my hard drive. I am running Illustrator CS on an XP. After running Check Disk everything seemed to be back to normal
Having a bad sector on your hard disk, and then having those bad sectors "repaired" (which means either mapped for exclusion or "reconecting" file fragments) does not mean that the corruped data in those sectors is no longer corrupted. In other words, a disk utility cannot correct the code of a program that has become corrupted due to a disk failure. The disk failure may be corrected (or effectively masked), but the disk utility can't re-install Illustrator for you. So the utility can tell you that "everything is fine" but that just means that all the sectors now being used are good sectors, and the file fragments they contain are mapped to each other in correct sequence. It doesn't mean that the data that is on those sectors is not scrambled.
It sounds like you need to reinstall Illustrator, but now the previous installation is preventing that. A complete disk reformat may be in order. I don't know of any way to reliably correct the confusion that results from the Windows registry becoming scrambled.
Wade, Jacob, thanks for the links. I'm going save them for future reference.
JET, I was afraid someone was going to tell me that. Now that you did, I don't have to be afraid anymore!
Thanks for the help and for taking the time.
Actually, I guess a clean reinstall of Windows would effectively delete the existing registry, without reformatting the disk. I'm certainly no expert in computer repair.
A so-called "repair install" of Windows (followed by a repair reinstall of Illustrator) might do the trick.
The only other thing I would add is replace that hard drive now. You were lucky to get a warning rather than a total crash.
If you do an image backup now, you should be able to try the various non-total-rebuild remedies that have been suggested with the new drive. If you're faced with the worst case scenario and have to do a total rebuild from scratch, certainly don't do it with the existing drive.
Hard drives are cheap these days. Don't pinch pennies with this, and don't put it off.