I was surprised and impressed to hear back from emachines the day after sending them my question. I was not so impressed with their response, which read:
Corrupted files or folders pertaining to your system may have caused this issue. File corruption is uncontrollable and can happen anytime. Some factors can affect this behavior such as, improper shutting down of your computer, disk or media failure, improper program installation, incompatibility with other programs and viruses as well.
With this regard, you may consider doing what is called a Restore to an Earlier Time. This process restores the entire registry, software and hardware settings back to a date (restore point) that you select. You do not lose any created documents or information. The only thing that might happen is if you have installed any software after the restore point that you select, you may need to reinstall the software. However, any files that you have created using the software will still be there.
Sounds like a sure-fire way to corrupt some other part of my system, if you ask me. No thanks.
I replied to their email, asking them to contact Alcor Micro on my behalf since they refuse to deal with me directly. I haven’t heard anything back since.
As a temporary solution, I have decided to remove the “Sunkist2k” registry entry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun (with a value of c:Program FilesMultimedia Card Readershwicon2k.exe, for the record). This avoids running the software every time somebody logs on, while keeping the software on the system in case I ever find out what the real problem is and the proper way to solve it.