when i click on the my computer icon, all that shows up is the my documents folders, no disc drives or hardware.

Try System restore to a earlier time.

thanks for the speedy response, but system restore is apparently tuned off.

Ok so restore didn’t work. So is it a factory built or home built computer? If factory you should have a some restorce cd/dvd to fix it and if not you might have to order if from the company. And if you have neither but have the O/S install disk your going to have to start all over reinstall and then reinstalling all your software that you installed since you owned your computer. But from what your describing sounds like serious problem with your O/S itself went bad or got corrupted. So what O/S are you using and what did you do if any changes before or after you problem showed up?

Could very well be HDD corruption, but I think it would be good to check for spyware and such. These are both free, ‘Lavasofts’s Ad-aware’ and ‘spybot search and destroy’, just google them and find the free versions.