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Laptop Freezes After Startup


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#1
q_lil_grl

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Hi, my 2-year-old Sony VAIO VGN-CS laptop has been freezing after startup from time to time for the past month. I don't know if this is on topic, but hopefully someone can help!

It's Windows Vista, and startup would be normal until after the desktop icons and background loads - I can move the mouse but once I click or double-click something it will freeze. Ctrl + Alt + Del will not bring up the screen for the Task Manager either. I end up with no choice but to manually turn it off by holding down the power button. I started up in Safe Mode a couple times before (including once today) and tried opening all the programs I normally use and everything worked perfectly, and the laptop didn't freeze. Even my wireless Microsoft mouse worked with no problems. Could my Microsoft mouse possibly be the cause? It is connected by USB, and I always plug it in after my laptop finishes starting up. It has worked fine for 2 years but lately it seems to be freezing my laptop, i.e., when I plug it in it will not connect, and when I try to use the laptop mouse to click on something, the laptop freezes. However, even when I do not connect my wireless mouse the laptop will sometimes freeze after startup. I am currently using the wireless mouse - the laptop did not freeze when I plugged it in after startup, but the mouse had trouble connecting and so I had to manually connect by pushing the 'Connect' buttons on the mouse and USB.

I also ran AVG (the newly updated 2012 version) last night and found 0 infections.

So my questions are what could be the problem and how can I fix it?

Thank you!
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#2
The Admiral

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Hey q_lil_grl!

A couple of things struck me about your issue:
1) Everything works fine in Safe Mode, and
2) It freezes up after you get to your desktop.

Safe Mode loads a "watered-down" Windows, one that doesn't load any third-party programs or drivers. When you boot into Safe Mode, you get pure Windows. When you boot into normal mode, Windows loads all sorts of drivers, programs, and services to improve your experience. Examples would be a service that opens Adobe PDFs quicker, or a program that is constantly checking for updates to Java to keep your computer safe.

I think that what is happening here is that one of these background programs has gotten corrupted and is causing these issues. Please follow these steps to diagnose startup program issues:

1. Boot into Safe Mode (since you can't do anything in Normal Mode).
2. Click Start, type msconfig in the Start Search box, and then press Enter.
3. Click the Services tab.
4. Click to select the Hide All Microsoft Services check box.
5. Click Disable All.
6. Click the Startup tab.
7. Click Disable All, and then click OK.
8. Reboot your computer into Normal Mode.

After the computer starts, try to start the affected game or program to determine whether the problem is resolved.
If the problem does not occur after you restart, the interference is occurring because of a background program or service. From here, we need to determine what program or service could be causing the issue.

The most basic explanation is to get back into msconfig following the above instructions, then enabling half of the non-Microsoft items in the services tab, then reboot. If you're still good, enable the rest and reboot. If you're still good, enable half of the items in the Startup tab and reboot. If you're still good, enable the rest and reboot.
Eventually you are going to encounter the problem again - and we'll know that the problem is caused by one of the programs we just enabled. Get back into safe mode and disable half of the ones that you just enabled and see if you can narrow down which service is causing the problem.

Time consuming? Yes. Will it work? Probably. :)

Look forward to hearing your report!
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#3
q_lil_grl

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Hello! Thank you for helping!

I initially wanted to wait until the weekend to start this process but earlier I was using the laptop for about half an hour and had exited Firefox and clicked on the AIM 7 window to send an IM to a friend when the laptop froze after I clicked the window. I then proceeded to start up in Safe Mode and completed steps 1 through 8. In normal mode, I opened almost all the programs I mostly use - Itunes, FF, Chrome, CCleaner, Spotify, and then AIM. At this time I had FF opened (it is prompted to open when I sign on AIM) and the AIM program opened. I exchanged a few IMs with a couple friends and then the laptop froze. I suspected that it was AIM that was causing the freezing so I uninstalled it. I then enabled everything that I disabled in Steps 1-8. Do you think AIM is the culprit? Is there a way to check if I had completely removed the program from my laptop? Should I also uninstall Firefox?


EDIT: After I posted this I exited Firefox, and Windows Live Essentials came up with a popup saying there were updates available so I gave it the go-ahead. After it finished updating I clicked to shut down my laptop... and it got stuck at the "Shutting down..." screen. I waited for a little over 5 minutes (shutting down normally doesn't take that long, even after I had installed a bunch of updates for Windows) and then manually shut it off. I turned it on again, but interestingly it didn't let me choose to open in Safe mode, instead it booted in normal mode. It's not the first time my laptop got stuck at the Shutting down... screen. This would probably be the 3rd time. I think the last time it has happened was a few months ago. Is there anything specific that could be causing that?


2ND EDIT: x_x After I posted that first edit I exited Firefox and clicked to shut down. The laptop froze. At this point all my startup programs and services were enabled, but when I rebooted in Safe Mode I imported my FF bookmarks into Chrome, uninstalled FF (but I didn't choose to delete my bookmarked pages), ran CCleaner and then now I'm typing this using Chrome.

This is really annoying, I hope FF is the last problem. I have to get up in 4 hours for class. What should I do next? Thanks again. :)

Edited by q_lil_grl, 07 October 2011 - 01:55 AM.

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#4
The Admiral

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Well, let's hope that this fixed the issue. You can, of course, try reinstalling Firefox. If it was a corrupted file, it would have been removed with uninstallation and should be fixed if you reinstall Firefox, or AIM for that matter.

The other thing we could consider is that AIM and Firefox both use the network card, and it could be that we need to update your network driver if that got corrupted. You can find your network driver at esupport.sony.com, clicking on the Downloads option in the middle, and putting in your model number (which should be something like VGNCS220D (on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop). Or, if you post that model number here, I'd be happy to find the specific driver you need. You're probably looking for a driver for the Wireless Network card.
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#5
q_lil_grl

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I think I'll keep off from reinstalling AIM and FF for a while to see if those were the issues.

Here's the link after I typed in my model number:
http://esupport.sony...=3#/downloadTab

Which files do I need to download?
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#6
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The one that you would want to download is the Update Intel® WiFi Link 5100 AGN Driver Update under Wireless LAN.
link

I would hold off on it for now though if everything has been working OK since uninstalling Firefox and AIM. How has your computer been acting lately? Any improvement?
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#7
q_lil_grl

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I haven't had the chance to shut down and start it up a few times to test it so I would like to see how it runs for a couple days. I will let you know after a few startups and shut downs! Thanks!
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#8
q_lil_grl

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Hello! Interesting thing happened today.. I started up my laptop, and everything started up fine. So I plugged in my wireless mouse and that worked fine too. Then (because I have Comcast) I had to go reset the modem and router because (like usual) I couldn't connect to the Internet. After about 5 minutes or so I went back upstairs to my laptop and double clicked Chrome to start, but nothing popped up. I clicked Start and then tried to open Google Talk too but nothing. Clicking to open my Documents and Network also just brought up blank Windows Explorer tabs. I waited a couple minutes and hit Ctrl + Alt + Del and clicked to bring up Task Manager. The screen returned to my desktop and after a little while everything I had tried to open popped up at once... I think my laptop is responding slower than normal, but this time it didn't freeze.
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#9
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Hmmmm... well let's just keep an eye on it. I would recommend going back into msconfig and disabling some of the startup programs that you don't think you need. Google is going to be your friend here for figuring out what you can and can't disable (hint: don't disable any Microsoft services). For example, I have the Adobe PDF Helper disabled... I don't really need that running in the background.

If after this you are still having problems, I'd go ahead and have you install that network driver I linked you to. Probably a coincidence that your computer slowed way down when you rebooted the router... but at this point it wouldn't hurt to update the driver.
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#10
q_lil_grl

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Hi, just an update: my laptop froze (wouldn't open anything after startup, couldn't bring up Task Manager) today after I reset the router & modem (but I'm not sure if it was working before that), so I went ahead and installed the network driver. I also disabled some VAIO extras yesterday.
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#11
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This is the second time you've reported freezing after resetting the modem/router... let me know if installing the network driver fixed it!
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#12
q_lil_grl

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The same thing just happened again - Chrome stopped responding while I was browsing and then everything else I clicked after that popped up all at once after a few minutes. What could be causing this?

EDIT 10/10/11 - And again, the exact same scenario. At least it's not completely freezing. x_x Everything started back up again in 3 minutes after they stopped responding.

Edited by q_lil_grl, 10 October 2011 - 11:49 AM.

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#13
q_lil_grl

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Now there's a new scenario - Right after I restarted the modem/router my laptop froze and I tried bringing up Task Manager but no response. A few minutes later, I got a black screen. I can still move the mouse but it was just a black screen. I manually turned it off and then on in normal mode. And the same thing happened - but this time I managed to open Chrome before it froze and went to the black screen. I'm on Safe Mode with Networking now and it seems to be working fine.
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#14
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Well here's the solution: just stop resetting your router! :yes:

So... are there any network related programs or services still enabled in msconfig? Can you disable those, restart your router, and see what happens? Does your laptop freeze every time you reboot your router? Edit: If so, what happens when you restart your router while running in Safe Mode with Networking? 3rd Edit: Does your laptop freeze when you turn off your router or when you turn it back on?
2nd Edit: Next time your laptop freezes up (randomly, without you rebooting your router), run over to your router and modem and check the link lights. Does it look normal? Do you have another computer that is able to access the internet when your laptop freezes up?

I'm asking a couple of other staffers if they can take a look here... hopefully someone else has seen this issue before.

But don't worry, we'll get you all fixed up! :)
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#15
q_lil_grl

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Hi, earlier yesterday I disabled everything in services and startup in msconfig that wasn't from Microsoft and my laptop was still slow in responding - it froze for a few minutes but didn't completely freeze.

Then I did a system restore back to a date in late Sept, close to the time when this started happening. I then dl-ed Spybot (on a friend's rec) and ran a scan, and completely removed a few 'browser' files and 'adware' files. Now I noticed the following problems:

-Mozilla Firefox will not uninstall nor open when I double-click it. It's just not responding at all and I can't get it out of my computer. I was able to uninstall AIM again however, but not FF.
-I can't turn on Malware Protection in Windows Security Center. AVG 2011 reports that it's turned off but nothing happens when I click 'turn on now' and then 'yes, i trust this program and am ready to run it' and then 'continue'. I am going to update to the AVG 2012 version again since my laptop hasn't frozen yet the two times I turned it on in normal mode.
-I can't print pdf files on Chrome! I never tried before so I don't know if it's just Chrome or my laptop.

Do you know how to fix those?

Thanks for the reassurance that you guys will help me fix my laptop. :) I was about to give up on it. If it freezes again I'll look at the router.

Edited by q_lil_grl, 12 October 2011 - 12:02 PM.

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