Your information is not gone. And your OS is Windows ME, not Dell, as Dell is just the manufacture of the PC you have. Windows ME was the worst OS Microsoft ever put out- in fact, they no longer support it. You said you had planned on upgrading. If you go with an Upgrade Windows XP, you should be able to run the upgrade, and all your files should still be there. Some applications may not work with the upgrade, but at least you're not loosing everything.
Please Add To My Rep If I Helped You