Windows XP Pro Frozen at Desktop

October 24, 2005 at 21:56:43
Specs: Windows XP Pro SP2, AMD XP 1500+ 512MB RAM

First of all, I want to thank everyone who keeps this site running. I've used it MANY times in the last few years to solve my computer problems. Now, I'm hoping I can find some help for a new issue. I'm at the end of my rope here (and near the end of my computer troubleshooting knowledge).

Today, my computer froze out of nowhere. No new programs recently, and no recent hardware changes. Everything had been fine for over a year. So, I just restarted it.

I can get to the Windows Log-on screen (with all the user accounts listed). No matter what account I select, the following happens: The computer freezes soon after the desktop appears. Not all of the desktop icons load completely. Not all of the system tray icons load. I can still move the mouse, but I can't click on anything (not icons, not the start button, nothing). If I move the arrow to the taskbar or start button, it turns into an eternal hourglass. The only way to restart the computer is to hold down the power button.

Here's the really bad news. Same exact thing happens in Safe Mode. Even when I log on under the Administrator account. So, I moved on to pre-Windows solutions.

I tried to scan for viruses after booting from the Norton CD. No viruses found in the minimal scanning it does (just RAM and MBR, i think). Then, I tried to repair my Windows XP installation using my XP Pro CD. I didn't use the recovery console, but instead did a repair from the installation process so that all the system files would be replaced with the default ones from the CD. Still, no change.

Finally, I pulled the hard drive, switched it to a slave setting via the jumpers, and put it in the computer I'm using right now. Even though I wasn't using the hard drive as the boot drive any more, it still caused the same problems. It's now sitting on the desk beside me. I GIVE UP!!!!!!

I know I can do a total fdisk and reformat (I've done MANY). But, there are a few things I want to get off of the hard drive before I wipe it. Is there ANYTHING I can do that I haven't tried?? I've never done much with registry editing and whatnot, and I'm not even sure if that would help.

ANY advice is GREATLY appreciated!!!

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October 25, 2005 at 00:20:14

Hello there,

I'm taking a shot in the dark here, but I would recommend that you download Bootiting from:

then follow the instructions. It will create a bootable ISO for you--you need a blank CD and a CD writer (one that can burn ISO's to CDs).

The next step here would be to put the HD back in the original computer, boot up with the newly created BootIt CD, then you can do a deep scan of the HD, OR convert it to FAT32 (if it's NTFS), boot with a Windows 98 disk, and move them to another disk (a floppy disk, external HD [you can insert one from the other computer, the one you used to post here], then do a deep format (not a quick one) of the original HD.

I hope my advice has been helpful. Post back! :D


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October 25, 2005 at 06:07:54

Another solution would be to use Symantec Ghost. It creates an entire backup of your hard drive and you can restore files off the image that it makes.

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October 26, 2005 at 04:03:39

Hi, I have completely the same problem as you have starting from this morning. If you have any solution, please, let me know. I didn't find it yet, but don't fdisk your HD, I know at least how to get the data etc in this situation.

BR, Volodia.

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October 26, 2005 at 09:38:27

Finally, I solved it, everything works again. I cured it with the DrWeb antivirus software. Like in your case the computer were completely frozen. The only I could start Task Manager pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL. Try it, if it wokrs - kill explorer.exe service - your will lose the Windows desctop, but you'll be able to start any application from your system (use RUN+Browse). I downloaded (using my second computer, notebook) antivirus drweb-cureit.exe from (free) and via flash drive put it on my main computer. In half an hour, the computer were cleaned up, and after restarting - everything works normal and as usial. There were several, Trojan.Click and BackDoors.
So, life goes on. Before this antivirus, I tried several times to repair WinXP from the original CD using option R - repair. Everytime - no results.

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October 31, 2005 at 18:41:00

OK. I finally have everything back to normal. I ended up using the same method as volodias. I found that I could access the task manager (via Ctr+Alt+Del) even when the desktop was frozen. Task Manager showed no applications running, and no process was taking up an inordinate amount of processor or memory bandwidth. I soon discovered that I could start a new program by going to File -> New Task (Run) on the Task Manager's menu. I then had to type out the full location of the exe. file I wanted to run.

I ran Norton AV first... no viruses detected. I then ran Ad-Aware... it would find 11 items of interest, but would never make it to the end of the searching process, so I could never delete them. So, eventually, I ran Nero and backed up all my data to DVD-R. Once I had everything off, I did a total format (including erasing and reforming the partition). I then put Windows XP Pro back on. After a few display issues (which were solved by updating the video card driver), I as good as new.

I now realize the importance of doing regular backups to the system. I'm looking at investing in a program like Norton Ghost. Any alternative suggestions that would be better?

Thanks for all the help...

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