Well guys, the problem was so bad with my computer that I am 100% sure it was general hardware failure. In the end, I couldn’t even access bios. No problem with any operating system could have caused that, a corrupted filesystem could have lead to problems with booting and accessing the hard drive, yes, but could not have caused complete failure. So, what I am trying to say is that I certainly do NOT blame Linux for the difficulties I experienced, I blame worn out hardware and possibly my own ignorance.
I’ve had to get a new computer, fortunately it is higher specs than the last one, 8GB RAM, an SSD (which I have researched, and I know now I should never use a disk defragmenter on it because it shortens it’s lifespan and doesn’t yield any extra performance, it is NOT like a HDD and has no moving parts), and a quad core processor. It comes with Windows 10, and is running it without strain to the system despite the usual bloat from Microsoft, actually it seems a bit less bloated than 8.1, and it didn’t come with any anti-spyware other than windows defender. Microsoft edge isn’t too bad either, a massive improvement on Internet explorer. They probably realized that IE was rubbish, was infested with however many bars of stuff nobody wanted, and nobody was using it. I’ve also changed some settings to stop windows from spying, so like, they can get crash reports and info about my hardware, none of which is personal, and a few basics that I had to give them such as my e-mail address to log into my microsoft account, but they already had that information. Thankfully all my important stuff was saved on onedrive, so I did not lose any of that! If I tried to put another OS onto it, it would void my warranty. So, I CANNOT put Linux onto this machine until the warranty runs out. Do I like Windows 10? Yes, but I am aware that it has some flaws and I won’t use it forever. I don’t know if this computer is windows 11 ready or not, if not I will have to change to Linux in 2025 when windows 10 reaches end of life, which will be after my warranty runs out anyway, it lasts for two years.
This said, nothing will stop me from creating a virtual machine in which to learn Linux, it’s obvious that being such a newbie, I had not much clue about what I was doing, and not much idea how to resolve Linux problems (unlike in Windows where there is very little I cannot do by myself). I may, in time, get a secondary machine on which to run Linux, then any serious problems in the virtual machine are confined to that machine and will not affect my Windows. Using a virtual machine while I am learning is going to give me a pretty hefty safety net, so any mistakes won’t result in anything more than having to delete and then re-create the VM. I loved Mint Cinnamon, but it is clear to me that while obtaining software is much easier in Linux, resolving problems is much more difficult (or at least I perceived it to be so because I didn’t know what I was doing).
As for my old computer. I have absolutely no idea how old it was (or the hard drive inside), it was secondhand when I got it. The previous owner had obviously reset windows before selling it on, but how old it was I have no idea. For all I know it could have been a good few years. This makes me glad my new machine is brand new, it should last. Actually I got a very good deal on it, it should have been more than I actually paid. I may see if it is possible to get a new bios chip for it and a new hard drive, see if I can resurrect it for Linux. If it is not possible I may be able to acquire another secondhand computer later down the line. I know Linux is best run on hardware a couple of years old so that the devs have the chance to develop any needed drivers in instances where the manufacturer doesn’t (like, graphics cards).
Oh, and yes I checked the checksum before burning the image, it checked out. I installed using a bootable USB that I made with unetbootin, changed the bios to boot from USB, and followed the installation instructions. All in all the process was quicker than I expected, easier and straightforward.
In any case, thanks for trying to help me diagnose my issues, hopefully my experience in a VM will be much smoother!