Monitor Blinks and System Hangs - Mouse Moves

June 13, 2009 at 12:59:49
Specs: Windows XP
The other day I used my computer for the usual things, email, post on forums, listen to music, etc. I turned the monitor off, and then came back a few hours later (I rarely shut my computer down). When I came back, this had suddenly started happening. Anytime I moved my mouse, the monitor would blink on and off for a while. It's not a steady blink, but rather on for half a second, then off for maybe a quarter second, then on for 1s, then off for 1/4s, then on for 1/4s, etc etc. This also happened if I tried to do anything, like, say, click on a button, or hit Ctrl-Alt-Del (or Ctrl-Shift-Esc), or right clicked, or pretty much anything. If I do manage to click on something, the system tries desperately to do something, but it seems to be hung up. One time I managed to get the Task Manager to appear, and I could see it was stuck at 100% CPU usage.

Visually, the computer seems to have problems rendering some things. My background image loads ok, but buttons won't show up (they'll be blue lines), the information in the Task Manager won't show up (as in, I can't see any of the processes running, or their CPU and RAM usage), message boxes won't show up (there might be an outline visible, and maybe I can tell where the top bar is, but nothing useful like buttons or text).

When I start up the computer, it loads properly until it gets to the Windows Login screen. My icon and name are invisible (it's just a blue screen and my mouse), but if I hover over where my name SHOULD be, the mouse turns into the hand, and I can click and log in (I have no password, so it loads Windows immediately).

A couple years ago I got a PCI video card, and have been plugging into it since. I tried to switch back to my on-board through the system settings (F1 at startup), and set it to AGP/Onboard, and then plugged it into the onboard connection, but I must not have done it right, because it wouldn't send video through (my monitor just stayed blank, and the power light showed that nothing was connected, apparently). I set it back to PCI, and it came through again (but still the problems persist). So maybe first off someone can tell me if there's another setting I need to change to send video through the AGP Onboard card? I don't actually think it's a video card problem, but it could be.

So basically, this came out of nowhere, I have no idea why it would happen. My system is essentially unusable right now. I can't think of anywhere I would have gotten a virus (I haven't installed any new software in months, and I've restarted several times since then, and any torrents I've downloaded have just been music or TV shows). My computer is old, maybe the C drive has started to crap out? I did run a defrag on it a couple months ago, and it seemed to be ok.

My computer:
HP Pavilion a620n pre-built
I think an Nvidia video card of some sort, supports Directx 9 (which I needed to play Portal, my onboard didn't support 9)...sorry I can't be more helpful, I'd check it in the System>Hardware window, but....
Monitor is a Samsung SyncMaster 793MB
Mouse is a cheap MS wireless mouse
Windows XP with SP2 (or 3? Whatever the latest SP is)

If you need clarification in order to help, please ask and I'll try to answer as best as I can. I know more than the average user about computers, but I'm not a guru or anything close, so your questions can be a little more technical and I should be able to understand them. Again, my system basically won't let me do anything, so once Windows has started I can't do anything like "check this setting, what does it say?".

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June 14, 2009 at 02:27:46
MrMoustacheMM, the 100% usage thing makes me think something's running in the background causing buffering. What? Dunno. Think I'd do a couple of things. First is a shutdown/restart. That'll clear your 'temp' files just in case they're too large.
Next, a common ailment is a file called 'index.dat'. It gets read every time and can take quite a while if it’s too bloated. It's like a log file and keeps a record of every site you visit on the web. Empty, it's 32K, but it can grow HUGE. It's a protected file and can't be deleted by normal methods. CCleaner (free @: can get rid of it (not to worry, it gets rebuilt EMPTY on the next boot.). That may/may not be your deal. I'd do it as a precaution.
Next is a worm/trojan. Be aware that a virus and a Trojan are similar, but not the same. Many times, an AV detects one it can't clean, other times, it gets missed entirely.
If you need to clean one, Superantispyware can do the job and you can get it free @:
among other places. They have a Vista compatible version if needed.
If it turns out that you need to use it, be sure to update prior to running and disable 'restore' (restart after cleaning) so it doesn't get put back. They just released a new update recently and it changes all the time. Things are in a constant state of flux.
The restore thing is critical. May not be your deal at all, but won't hurt anything to try.
Ed in Texas.

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June 15, 2009 at 07:55:27
Thanks for the reply!

I have restarted several times, but every time it does this.

I'm pretty sure it's not a virus or trojan, I'm pretty good about making sure everything I download is clean. I run AVG and it seems to do a good job. If it is malware, it's done a pretty good job of destroying my system. It seems odd, though, that it would just suddenly start running. It's been my experience that malware generally doesn't start wreaking havoc until I restart my computer. This problem started while my computer was on, and I was simply away from it.

I would love to try both the CCcleaner and the other anti-spyware program, but I have no way to download or install them. Any time I try to start up a program, the screen turns on and off, and the system takes forever to do anything. Even starting up a web browser is pointless, because even if it actually loads, most of the buttons/menubar are invisible, and nothing will display in the main window of the browser.

I'm starting to wonder if this might be a video card issue? I still haven't been able to switch the output from my PCI card to my onboard card (despite changing the BIOS setting from PCI to AGP/Onboard, nothing will go out of the Onboard card). Or could this perhaps be a motherboard problem (since the onboard video is apparently not working)?

I may be able to find a friend with a video camera, and if I can I'll take a short video of the problem and upload it to youtube, in case seeing it might help. In the meantime, I've bought a new computer, and when it comes in I'll try connecting the two and seeing if I can run a remote virus/trojan scan on the old computer.

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