Just a follow-up to my own 'solution' above -- turns out there is still a problem with NOD32, because my machine still freezes up on boot. How did I discover this, you may ask? Well, I sat down to use my WinXP box just now and Windows Explorer was frozen up so badly that I couldn't get to the task manager (exactly the same symptoms as the start-up freeze). This is a new issue that I have not yet experienced; previously my freeze-ups were only when (re)booting so it was tolerable. So I had to cycle the power to reboot it. And when my desktop came back up, it was frozen! Probably if I reboot a few times, it will fix it. The start-up freeze seems to be intermittent, maybe a timing issue. Unfortunately, I need my computer to work, so I'm going to ask support if they have a last-known "good" version of ESET that does NOT exhibit this freeze-up issue (4.x?) that I can down-grade to. And if not, or if they give me the run-around, I have no choice but to demand my money back for my 3-license renewal (or dispute the charge on my credit charge if it comes to that) and start trying out some other antivirus packages that don't prevent me from using my computer. Which is really too bad because I like NOD32 and have been using it for 4 or 5 years. Hope others are having better luck with this. If you've found an older version that doesn't exhibit this issue, or you've moved on to another antivirus package, I'd love to hear your input.