Thanks for your reply. Yes I intend to make an image of the HDD once I have all my basic programs set up.
I am thinking there must be a way to replace the file only because from what I have seen the instructions for themes which need this modification simply state to rename and replace the shell32.dll file. And reading user comments on the said themes, it would appear people are able to do this successfully.
I have a fresh install of Win 7 so it doesn't really matter right now if I screw it up since I can just reinstall.
So are you saying it is impossible to replace this shell32.dll file except at start up?
Please forgive my ignorance!