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Windows XP sometimes freezes while loading desktop


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#1
vertigoelectric

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I know this title of this topic is generic and appears often, but I've not been able to solve the issue I'm having. Please take some time to read all of this. I try to be detailed so as to answer question I'm most likely to be asked anyway...

Over the course of a several months I've noticed a problem when starting Windows. At some point while loading the desktop, Windows will freeze. I'll still have control of my mouse, but nothing responds. Mousing over the taskbar generally shows an hourglass, and my only option is to do a hard reset. Sometimes it doesn't get as far as loading the taskbar. Other times, it will appear to load everything but still freeze.

This doesn't happen every time. In fact, I'm using it right now. Because this only occurs sometimes, it's been extremely difficult pinpointing the issue.

I've noticed it had gotten worse over time. In fact, last week it began freezing at the "loading your personal settings" screen, and would do so consistently on every reboot. My first step was a Windows XP installation REPAIR using the XP CD. That managed to make it usable again but it didn't stop the unpredictable startup freeze.

I then did a full reinstall of Windows XP over my previous installation without reformatting. I got a program called Rollback RX (which is similar to Norton GoBack except it works better and doesn't steal your soul). I installed Rollback first thing so that as I began reinstalling all of my drivers and software I could find which one causes my PC to freeze. This was not easy since the problem only happened "sometimes" anyway. As I installed programs, if my next reboot froze, then I'd roll back to the point before I installed it and skip that program. I began to notice that the freezing still seemed to happen at random and it became more apparent to me that WHAT I was installing didn't seem to have an effect either way.

So I thought maybe since I didn't reformat, I left some kind of problematic file on the hard drive. So I started over again. This time I reformatted the drive and installed Windows XP again.... and, again, began taking the same steps I mentioned above. I got the same results, and the PC froze at random startups.

I know faulty RAM could cause freezing. I have two RAM sticks, each 1 gb, and set up in dual channel. I removed one and tried booting with just one. Still froze. I then swapped them. Still froze. Tried different slots, too.

After the reinstallation of XP, I've now noticed that the system also sometimes freezes on shutdown, during the "Windows is shutting down" screen, though this isn't as serious, it deserves notice.

Because of the fresh reformat and installation of XP, I've ruled out malicious content such as virus or malware. Someone suggested Rollback may be the culprit, however I've had this problem prior to ever using Rollback.

It came to my attention that bad sectors on the hard drive could cause such a problem, so I booted from the XP disc and ran CHKDSK through the console. It immediately told me the volume contained unrecoverable problems.

(as a side note, I have been running 4 hard drives: 1 for the OS, 1 for important data like documents, and 2 for storage of music and other not-as-important stuff. The first 2 are very old 80gb IDE drives, and the SATA storage drives are very new).

I used CHKDSK to check the 2nd drive as well, and that one came up clean. I decided to back up my 2nd hard drive, swap it with the system drive, and try running the OS off of that one instead. After all that trouble, my PC still freezes at random.

Both drives are the same age (probably 7 years or more), so I'm wondering if perhaps the drive are causing the freezing even though CHKDSK isn't finding anything on this one.

My next step is to try installing Windows on one of my new storage drives, which I'd really like to avoid. However, if it installs and does not freeze at all, then I'll know the hard drive was the problem.

The thing is, I want to know from experts out there, or someone who had similar issues, if there is something else I am missing. What else could be going wrong? I have no idea what the problem is. I'm no amateur at this, and I'm usually the one people come to when they have problems, but since I can't pinpoint the cause of Windows freezing like that, I don't know how to fix it.

I really hope someone had the patience to read all of this and is able to offer some kind of help. Unless things get really bad, I won't take any further steps for a while in hopes that someone here can offer an alternative to reinstalling AGAIN.

Thank you so much for your time...
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#2
happyrock

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before doing this...

My next step is to try installing Windows on one of my new storage drives, which I'd really like to avoid. However, if it installs and does not freeze at all, then I'll know the hard drive was the problem.


go here for instructions on how to clean out the case and heatsink and fan
no joy
try this...
get memtest 86+ here ...this will test your memory...let it run for at least 2 hours...if you get any errors then the ram is bad and will have to be replaced...no errors after 2 hours.......then its probably good and we can try other things..
it will run until you press the escape key
the how to is here..
if you don't have a burning program that will burn .ISO files go here and get burncdcc ..a small FAST no frills iso burning program...

NOTE...do not put a blank cd in until burncdcc opens the tray for you
1. Start BurnCDCC
2. Browse to the ISO file you want to burn on cd/dvd ....in this case its memtest86.iso
3. Select the ISO file
4. click on Start

make sure in the bios the cd drive is the first boot device....put the cd in the cd drive..boot your computer....
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#3
vertigoelectric

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I have done the memory test, and it came out clean. Apparently there is nothing wrong with the RAM.

Thank you though
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#4
happyrock

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did you open the case and clean it out...
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#5
vertigoelectric

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It does get dusty, and I have blown out the dust from time to time. I'll try cleaning it out again now.

Also, my PC is starting to freeze more now. Last night it froze not at startup, but after being on for hours. I came into my room and noticed it had stopped responding.

I'm getting extremely frustrated. :)
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#6
happyrock

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in post number 2 I gave you a link on how to clean out the dust...be sure and do a good job on the heatsink...
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#7
vertigoelectric

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actually i really don't think that's the problem... i mean, why would it only freeze on startup? besides, it's pretty clean already.

One thing i did today was remove everything from the msconfig and start rebooting. after 2 successful boots in a row, i would turn a few things back on a reboot a couple more times. near the end of the list, i turned a few things back on and it started freezing again....

i was writing down what i was checking and unchecking, and i'd failed to write down those last items, so i have to figure it out again.... but i've undone the change (turning those items on) so my pc SEEMS to be running ok now...

...except windows still takes way too long to load. any tips on that one? the loading screen itself (with the animated blue bar) takes about a minute and a half by itself, if not longer.
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#8
happyrock

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except windows still takes way too long to load. any tips on that one?


the only things that need to load at startup is your AV and your firewall..


it sounds like one of your apps is causing the problem
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