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Connection problems with new hard drive

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Old 01-21-2010
 

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Connection problems with new hard drive
Hi! I am almost to the point where I want to throw my desktop out in the driveway and run over it several time, so, I figured it's time to ask for help!

Our Dell Inspiron 531 Desktop (bought 02/08) went out just before Christmas. We have an extended warranty on it, so a tech came out and replaced the hard drive and motherboard. He loaded Vista 32 with the disk we were provided at purchase.

For the first day or so, we connected to the internet okay with an ethernet connection to the same router (NETGEAR) we've had since we bought the computer. Several days ago, it lost connection, even though our Ipods and Laptops still connect wirelessly without problems. I started trying to figure out what was going on and noticed that the night before, quite a few automatic updates for downloaded/installed. As you can imagine, there were an enormous amount done and some that failed. I also noticed that the computer kept freezing up and taking a very long time to shut down.

I did many things but finally decided to reload windows. I did that and still could not connect to the internet. Even though our network hardware showed up in Devices, the computer didn't recognize that ethernet connection was there through the router (I used the same ethernet cord to test one of the laptops and found no problems with either). I loaded a wireless adapter on it and got internet back. That evening, I updated drivers from the dell website and started Microsoft updates. I am back to square one. No internet anymore and it's freezing up again. I show a wireless connection but it's not connected to the internet. It doesn't recognize the ethernet connection at all again.

Could the updates cause all these problems? Are there some I shouldn't load?With 90+ 'important' updates, how do I know which ones are good/bad? If there are some I should skip, should I load windows a third time? I'm so confused! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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