Painted into an epically frustrating corner

Microsoft Windows xp professional w/sp2
June 25, 2010 at 17:00:55
Specs: Windows XP
Hello, all. Here's my tale of woe:

I noticed my computer was running slowly. An antivirus search turned up a trojan... I'm not certain the trojan was responsible for the slow performance, but it seems as likely as not. I removed the trojan, ran a registry cleanup utility (Advanced Registry Optimizer I think, but I can no longer check). When I rebooted, I couldn't log back into Windows (XP SP2). My problem seems to exactly match the one described (and solved) here:

Simply put, I get dumped onto the "choose your profile" screen, but when I pick my profile, I get immediately logged off. This happens even in Safe Mode. There is no way back into the OS. Bios works fine, however.

As I said, the problem is solved in the above link. But the solution involves inserting one's Windows XP CD. Problem is, my DVD drive is fried and has been for years. What can I say, it's an old computer. Did I say old? I meant "classic".

I do have several working USB ports. Any thoughts on how I can fight my way aboard my computer and follow the instructions listed in the link above to repair my registry and get back to work?

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June 25, 2010 at 17:12:11
Observation: DVD drives are under $10.

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June 25, 2010 at 18:20:23
Haha, yes, that's true. And right now my number one option is to buy or borrow an external DVD drive and put it on the USB port. Hey, I never claimed this was a disaster that could bring down Western Civilization or demote Pluto!

But at the same time, I figured making a bootable USB drive should be pretty easy to do, with the right advice. Or, maybe someone knows a way to fix this problem without inserting an OS CD.

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June 25, 2010 at 20:58:09
If your computer is as old as you say the BIOS won't have an option to boot from an external USB drive.

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June 25, 2010 at 21:02:52
I was concerned about that, but I checked and it indeed does allow a USB boot. I promoted USB boot to its first election, ahead of the HDD and DVD (defunct). This computer is a Dell XPS M140 laptop circa 2006. Old, but not ancient.

Also, I downloaded a program called Win-to-flash, which wrote a full XP boot from my XP SP2 disc to my USB, but it failed and gave me a "missing or damaged hal.dll" error when I tried to boot with it. Not sure how come that happened.

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