I'm experiencing the following problem (WinXP OS): iexplore.exe opens even if Im not on the web a/o not using internet explorer (I generally browse via firefox or chrome), then (1) volume master wave goes to zero (and if I restore it to a positive value, then again goes to zero in 3-5 minutes) and (2) multiple iexplore.exe files pop-up on my task manager/process explorer. Any attempt to force-close them results in more iexplore.exe to open.
Also, several times (but not always): (3) a distinct sound (like a movie music) is audible for approx 10 seconds then shuts off and (4) a pop-up with some unrequested add of sorts opens, even if I'm not using internet explorer.
I have tried running different AV here (Avast, Glary Utilities, a-Squared, Provx) but apart from removing the odd "suspect" file they haven't solved my problem. Also, draconian solutions like erasing the internet explorer .exe file did not work (it appears there is some sort of Windows embedded protection on it).
Any help truly appreciated!