Sorry for the delay in replying.
I have windows explorer set to view > List.
What is really strange is that XP is now intermittently having this problem.
For the most part the problem is there but occasionally right out of the blue i'll get a 'beep' and the 'new hardware found' icon on my taskbar.
Windows doesn't report that it's found new hardware or that its looking for new hardware. It just makes the noise, the icon appears on the taskbar and then disappears again leaving me none the wiser to what has happened or why.
Thanks for the time and effort you put into replying adrichardson its appreciated :-)
I'm now very curious about one thing.... am i the only person on the planet having this problem? I never considered myself as computer illiterate before, but now i'm starting to wonder