System trouble with opening programs

Hi, Today I have been having trouble with my pc which is running windows 7 64bit.

There are a few problems occurring so my best bet is describing each problem that I have come across so far.

The first thing I noticed going wrong was when I clicked on the windows explorer icon and they clicked on another drive connected to the PC, explorer just froze and didn't respond. So at the moment I cant access my external hard drive as it always crashes.

Secondly I tried uninstalling a program by using the control panel and that wouldn't let me delete anything either. When I tried deleting anything nothing would happen and if I clicked uninstall again it just asks me to wait until changes have been made, but I left this for 15 minutes and nothing happened still.

Thirdly I cant access the recycle bin or empty it either, when i click on it nothing happens at all.

Also I have tried opening system restore from system tools but when I click it I get the following message

"the service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion"

I get this message on quite a few programs that I have tried to open, including a direct x 11 driver from windows

I know there is quite alot of information there but all the problems started at the exact same time so i do think they are in someway linked.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Ps. I have scanned C drive and E drive and both came up clear from avast
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  1. I have found the Problem. It was my external hard drive. I unplugged it nd everything was fine but now when I plug it back in it asks me to format it and it doesnt show up in my computer. I have over 200GB worth of my photography on here and I really really dont want to loose it.

    I now need to know a good way of recovering files from a suspected corrupted hard drive. Should I create a new thread regarding this?

    The hard drive just blinks when plugged in
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