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Windows hangs while using IE

Posted on 2003-11-23
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I have the following problem which I think is hardware related because my first step to replace W98 with XP, did not help. It could be IE related, though.

While surfing, I occasionally get into a state where the OS hangs completely. No kbc, no mouse, I have to press the reset button.
Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. Usually it occurs in the same sites, that got me suspicious of heavy Flash animations. E.g. , many times it happens in Yahoo Web mail, right after loading the page that comes up after sending an email.

It was recommended to me to upgrade my graphics card. I did that, from Voodoo3 3dfx 16 Meg, to nVidia Geforce 4 64 Meg. That did not help either.

All my fans work.
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Question by:mco
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9807003
Try repairing or reinstalling IE

Repair IE :
-----------

Start > Run rundll32 setupwbv.dll,IE6Maintenance "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Setup\SETUP.EXE" /g

or

Start > Run rundll32.exe setupapi,InstallHinfSection DefaultInstall 132 C:\windows\inf\ie.inf

Reinstall IE:
-------------

Description of the Internet Explorer Repair Tool
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=http://support.microsoft.com:80/support/kb/articles/Q194/1/77.asp&NoWebContent=1

How to Reinstall or Repair Internet Explorer and Outlook Express in Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=318378

Repair Internet Explorer 6
http://www.theeldergeek.com/repair_ie6.htm

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=293907

Unable to Open Link
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q281679&sd=tech

Sunray
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by:mco
ID: 9807014
My IE is newly installed (ny whole OS was reinstalled twice) with all the Windows Updates.
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by:mco
ID: 9807023
I request not to respond with general fixes recommendations of the type I received above. Although they are good as "first trys", I have already done all the "regular" stuff and have waded through Google and MS knowledge base.
Thank you
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9807040
Have you checked for spywares and virus ?

I am just checking with all the general fixes first ..


Sunray
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9807041
And this only happens in IE?  Nothing else?

When you installed WinXP, did you do an upgrade or a format/install?  It's always better to do install, imho.

You can try a repair of IE.

If you've changed your video card, I'm not sure how it can be that.  But you can try installing the latest detonator drivers from nvidia to see if it makes a difference.

Have you tested your RAM, swapped with known-good?  It could be that.

Generally I find 'complete hangs' of the system are usually RAM-related.  But there are also the possibilities it's motherboard, hard drive, or power supply if hardware is what we're looking at.
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9807051
>>I request not to respond with general fixes recommendations of the type I received above.

That's sunray for you...  it works well, so it's always the first recommendation from him, even if it's not very original...
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by:mco
ID: 9807070
Some answers:
Yes, I have checked viruses and spyware.
I installed XP from scratch, twice. Before that I installed W98 from scratch.
I am not a newbie at software stuff, far from it, and that is why I requested not to get the general things. I am less experienced with hardware problems.

I will try the RAM change.

Regarding the other possibilities, are there any diagnostics around for motherboard functions. My HD is OK (tested).
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9807072
Albertabeef,


>> That's sunray for you

Many times I see the general fixes have solved the issue. May be not in this case

Sunray
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9807085
Albertabeef,

I knew that remark by the questioner was to me ...

Sunray
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by:AlbertaBeef
ID: 9807099
>>Many times I see the general fixes have solved the issue. May be not in this case

That's why you post them, I know.  I'm not saying it's bad or it's good, just that it seems to be your way :-)

You go with what works in the past, I understand.  That's the thing about PC troubleshooting, experience is the best teacher.

I'm not complaining, (or maybe I am a little) it just seems to me you jump on those and post a lot of information which for any but the novice user can often be useless.  No offense intended.

That's not what I prefer to do, I prefer to look at the question, determine the need, and then post something that directly corresponds to the question, not something I cut and pasted from Crazy1's comments, lol.
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by:sunray_2003
ID: 9807117
OK .. Albertabeef.. Lets end here .. You see the question and respond.. that is your way..

My way is general ideas which has helped me and the questioner so far..

What I am talking about is why do you want to say that the questioner was saying the comment to me. It was obvious.

You are on your way and I am on mine..  Well It would have been helpful if the questioner gives in his question what he has tried which would benefit everyone

Sunray
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9807120
If it only happens in IE, it doesn't sound like hardware. I like sunray's suggestion to check for virus/spyware. Trash software can often screw up other software. Go to http://www.safer-networking.org/index.php?lang=en&page=download
Download Spybot, update it, and scan your system. It's free, but donations are welcome. There's a good chance you will find problems, even if you don't fix this one. Spyware/malware could easily be causing this sort of problem.  The people who write it have no ethics, so they don't care if they screw up other applications.

Also, do a Start > Run > sfc /scannow to check for damaged system files. If you haven't already done so, also visit Windows Update and check for critical updates, and updates for things like .net, Java, etc. since you indicated there is some pattern to problems with specific web sites.

If you are running a firewall, popup blocker,  or a cookie blocker, turn them off temporarily and see if the problem goes away. Shut down IE and re-start it, then go back to the same sites. Look for patterns of repeated problems at the same sites. Some web sites won't work without cookies, particularly shopping sites. Also reset all browser settings to default and delete all offline content and cookies. Let us know if that helps. Get back to us with specifics on any patterns you notice of when the lockups happen.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9807332
Sorry. I missed your comments about already looking for spyware and doing the updates. I still think that spyware is a possibility, or maybe a trojan/malware. If you have Spybot, also get Ad-Aware. Each will often find things the other doesn't. www.lavasoft.nu.

Another thing worth trying is Startup Cop or Windows Startup Inspector http://www.windowsstartup.com/ also freeware. Try loading only the apps you know you need, and see if that helps. It can be tedious, but you might figure out what is causing the problem. It could be hardware, but my guess is OS or apps.
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by:mco
ID: 9807550
OK, I switched RAM, but problem persists.

More info after making tests by repeatingly entering the Yahoo "after mail sent" page:
My task manager was up and since the display also freezes I can see that consistently (not that I made a statistical size sample :-) )
1) The CPU usage is between ~ 75%
2) The Web page has loaded and an animated Flash advertisement is running.

Another point, this PC has been running for long without problems, then it began.
Apart from the explanation that some hardware became bad, it could be that at a certain date, certain Flash animations (needing more resources ?) became more widespread.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9807845
> Another point, this PC has been running for long without problems, then it began.
> Apart from the explanation that some hardware became bad, it could be that at a certain date, certain Flash
> animations (needing more resources ?) became more widespread.

Sure, it could be hardware that went bad, but it is more likely to be software if it only happens in IE, and especially if it only happens with Flash animations. For instance, you could have installed an update or a new app that had a corrupted file in it, overwriting a good .dll with a bad one, or it could be an intact system file that simply conflicts with the version of Flash that the Yahoo ad was written with. Something like bad RAM would tend to lock the system any time the bad memory chunk was accessed, regardless of what software you were running.

Can you recall what apps were installed shortly before the problem started? Or which updates? If you still think it is hardware, maybe try a burnin tester, or simply load a bunch of apps then play a system-intensive game or two. Does your motherboard have temperature sensors? Monitoring those might be worthwhile.
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Assisted Solution

by:nealbing
nealbing earned 20 total points
ID: 9808611
From reading your problem description above, I am going to assume that your system will function normally if it is not connected to the internet.  I am going to also assume that since you did the upgrade from windows 98 to windows XP that you were expecting to see better performance out of your OS speed wise.  I think that your system is performing better with XP when it is not connected to the internet.  Here is away to eliminate IE to see if it is the culprit or not.  I would open it up while not connected to the internet and see if you can browse your c: drive.  Look and see if it will throw up any errors and try to detect any system performance that is not normal.  If it works out ok then you are definately looking at a hardware problem.  I really think that it is your modem that is causing you a lot of these headaches.  The best way to test this for sure is to do this:  If your system has a built in 10/100 nic card and you have access to DSL or can get access to it, connect your system to it and see how it performs on the internet.  I am positive your system will scream with speed.  If that is the case then it is your modem causing the trouble.  I would then look and check to see if there are any updated drivers for your modem and start there.  Adding additional RAM and updated drivers for your video card will not help you with this problem.  To eliminate your video card set your video to the lowest resoloution posible and turn off all acceleration.  I still would not expect you to see that much of a performance increase in your internet usage.  But if your IE does not lock up then you will know that you will have to upgrade your video driver.  
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by:mco
ID: 9808846
I do not believe it is a matter of software clashes because the problem persists after new installs before installation of my other apps.
What is a 'burnin tester' ?
Temperatures are monitored and are OK. Fans work well.

BTW, I have also ran a graphics intensive game with no problems.
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by:mco
ID: 9808862
To nealbing,
I did not upgrade to XP for any performance advantage. I did it as a first try at fixing the problem, after it was suggested to me that XP is more tolerant of hardware. In any case, I an staying with XP because I like it.
I didn't understand how I can execute your suggestions. The problem occurs while surfing, and only occasionally, not consistently.
The general spped of the system is as good as it ever was.

I am connected to an ADSL line through a network card.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9811581
When you do a typical upgrade install, you can still be retaining past applications and the associated problems. If you backup your data, format the drive(s) and do a fresh install to a new NTFS partition, you should be eliminating any software issues. You probably did a standard upgrade, and could be carrying over things like corrupted or flaky files.  It could be that you should do a total reinstall of everything to be sure you don't have .dll conflicts. http://www.techsupportalert.com/best_16_free_utilities.htm has free registry and .dll cleaners if you want to first go that route.

Actually, from what I hear, XP is pickier on hardware than 98. Plug-n-Pray is better, but it is probably more sensitive to hardware that is out of spec./old. I agree that it is substantially better, especially if your system is fairly new or at least has plenty of RAM. How much RAM do you have? At least 256MB? If not, upgrade.

Try isolating the problem. http://www.tweakxp.com/display.aspx?id=1452 has an article on disabling Flash animations. Also, at tweakxp.com, try a search on Flash. You may actually have multiple versions of it installed. Try tech support searches on Flash at M$ and Macromedia. See what you have installed.

A burnin test is simply something that repeatedly runs things like memory, hdd, etc. tests. I doubt it will isolate your problem, but there are some freeware/shareware versions at places like tucows.com & tudogs.com. Tudogs also has a freeware browser that could replace IE if you want to do some further isolation testing.
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by:mco
ID: 9811604
As I mentioned before, my installs were from scratch. I.e., after formatting the disk.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9811758
Here's another thing to try, but a bit more of a longshot - try tweaking your dsl settings, and check for things like bad packets. www.dslreports.com is a good site for testing and tweaking, or get the freeware TZ Connection Booster, http://www.trackzapper.com/ or at most freeware/shareware sites. If you are getting a lot of bad packets, it might be something as simple as static in your phone line, but my current guess is Flash software.

Try cleaning your dsl connections with a pencil eraser, then with rubbing alcohol. Check that screws on the wall connectors are snug for the red & green wires, or on older installations, white/blue and blue/white wires. If you are getting bad packets, you can run a separate CAT 5 line from the phone line junction box outside your place directly to the dsl modem (not practical everywhere, but nice to do if you can).
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9811965
OK. I had seen your comments on the reinstall, but wasn't sure. http://www.burn4free.com/dynamic/common/cgi-bin/d.exe?htm=download/default.htm is a freeware burnin test. The problem with hardware tests is that they aren't definitive. For instance, they need some memory to run in, so they can't test that area. Still, they will sometimes find the problem. There are lots of free/shareware utils. http://www.freewarepro.com/ is another site, along with tucows and tudogs that I mentioned earlier. Run more than one of the hardware diag utils.

Start by opening up your case, grounding yourself, then removing and reseating each of the cards in your system (it could be a spot of dirt, etc. on a connector). Then, run the diagnostics. Did you do the start > run > sfc /scannow that I suggested earlier? Did you install more than one version of Flash animation? Did you try the XP tweak to disable Macromedia Flash to see if the problem went away? (Always export your registry before tweaking it, in case you do a typo or some such). The dll cleaner and the registry checker at the techsupportalert site I mentioned are also worth a try. Let me know if you want more detailed instructions on any of these suggestions.
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by:terageek
ID: 9815035
Are you running any type of firewall and/or popup filter?  If so, do you have the latest versions?  Any software between your network connection and IE could be hanging.  If you are using either a firewall or pop-up fileter, try a different one.  Have you tried any browser other than IE?

If you were able to play a graphics inensive game without issue, I doubt that it is your cpu, disk drive etc...  If it is any kind of hardware problem, I would look at the network card.  I assume that you have already gone to the manufacturers web site to check for the latest firmware and/or drivers.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9819097
Another thing worth trying is updating the BIOS. There is a possibility that your current BIOS is incompatible with some newer software or operating systems.

Go to the support site of your motherboard manufacturer, and see if an update is available. http://www.aida32.hu/aida32.php is a good freeware app to identify your system components if you need it.

Be aware that there is a small chance of system damage when updating a BIOS. Normally, the update software will first do a backup of your current BIOS before doing the update. It's an important safety precaution.
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by:mco
ID: 9833630
I am trying out the suggestions I was given but it will take some time.

Meanwhile I came across another scenarion which might give a clue. This time very consistent:
When I open a specific Jpeg file (size = 577K) with the MS Image & Fax Viewer, it consistently hangs in a similar manner to what I described in this problem.
When opening other images it usually works OK but sometimes hangs.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9838823
Interesting. That could be hardware or software. Go to http://www.irfanview.com/ and download the free viewer. Let us know if opening the same file with Irfanview causes the same problem.

Did you do the sfc /scannow suggested earlier? Did it find any bad files? If so, which ones?
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by:mco
ID: 9839823
sfc /scannow  went smoothly, although after another hang, when rebooting I got the display with minimal resolution and colors and had  to update the video adapter driver.

Irfanview displayed the file OK. Am I right in thinking that IE and MS Image & Fax Viewer use the same code to display images and therefore this might be pointing in  that direction?
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9840181
Well, if Irfanview displays it, but Image Viewer doesn't, that's an indication that it's software, not hardware (but not conclusive). It would probably be stretching things to say IE & IV use the same code, but they almost certainly use some (probably many) common files, such as .dlls. You could probably dig up a list of files from support.microsoft.com, but it would take a while to do a comparison.

Use one of the freeware tools to check for duplicate .dlls. It could be, for instance that you have some from Microsoft and some from Nvidia. Loading some files from one version or software vendor and some from another is a fairly common cause of this type of problem.

Another thing worth trying is loading a previous set of drivers from Nvidia. A couple of times, I have had problems with driver updates from them, and had to go back to an older version.
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by:mco
ID: 9857077
I am continuing with the tests and came across a strange phenomenon.
I am running a BurnIn test (by PassMark, the one you recommended above was a CD burning software :-) ).
The test shows no error anywhere. For some reason I decide to try and open the big JPG I mentioned before while the BurnIn test was running and it opened OK (this was consistent).
I tried agin opening it after shutting the BurnIn tests, and it caused the PC to hang again.
So, the fact that the tests are running, causes the problem to go away.
I thought may be it had to do with the CPU being loaded by other tasks, but when I loaded it an anti-virus scan instead of the BurnIn tests, the opening of the JPG failed.
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tanjnt earned 210 total points
ID: 9860898
That's interesting. Loading the burnin test would use a block of memory, which would probably cause the jpg to load into a different section of RAM. That would indicate possible bad RAM, but you said you had replaced the RAM already.

It might be worth opening the case, grounding yourself to the power supply, removing all RAM, cleaning the contacts on the RAM and on the motherboard with rubbing alcohol on a swab, then replacing the RAM, preferably changing the slots from the way they were inserted before. Make sure the alcohol has evaporated before you reinsert the RAM. Wiggle the chips a bit as you insert them, making sure they are seated firmly. The burnin test should be doing a fairly thorough RAM test. It probably has different test modes. Set it to test RAM thoroughly, with several repeats.

The only other thing I can think of is that the burnin test would test various video modes. Possibly it changed which video driver modules were loaded.
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by:mco
ID: 9861040
So, I narrowed it down. This BurnIn software allows you to decide which tests to run.
There is only one test that enables the JPG to be loaded. It is not the RAM , it is the 3D graphics test. The 2D graphics test doesn't change anything either.
So, may be I keep the test running non-stop on my PC for eternity :-)
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9863213
Did you test the older Nvidia graphics drivers? It sounds like it might be a driver issue.
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by:mco
ID: 9864765
Older drivers didn't help.
Removing the driver completely and using the default OS VGA driver fixed the problem, but then, my graphic abilities are quite bad.
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by:AlbertaBeef
AlbertaBeef earned 20 total points
ID: 9864873
mco, what other kinds of hardware / software are you running?  Is anything running at startup that could be causing this issue?  

What kind of items are in the 'startup' when you run 'msconfig' ??  If there's software there that you don't need, that could be causing the issues.  I know my mother has an optical mouse which works fine in XP, but when they installed the drivers the system would occasionally hang.  Removing the drivers/software for the mouse resolved the issue.  It had an applet that loaded at startup that seemed to be causing problems, and you could be having the same conflict.
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by:mco
ID: 9865849
There are no relevant items there. I.e. there are several, but the problem existed after a fresh reinstall from scratch before I added other software.
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by:mco
ID: 9865898
There seemed I have found a reasonable workaround.
I have set the colors to 16 bit, it was 32 bit, and things seem to be OK.

During this discussion I have learnt a lot and I am going to split points accordingly.
Thank you very much for your help, and keep posting here if there is any further insight.
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by:mco
ID: 9865936
The 'accepted answer' is not more relevant than anything else, EE forced me to mark one answer as such.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9871012
Thanks for the points. Did you ever try rolling back to an earlier version of your video card drivers? I think you said this happened with both the old and new video cards. There almost has to be some sort of a software glitch, either with Nvidia or with the OS, possibly with the picture viewer, which came with the OS. Your workaround is probably OK unless you get into some higher end graphics apps.
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by:mco
ID: 9872572
Yes, I did, but that did not help any.

There is bad news :-(  So I worked around the unloading JPG and thought my problems were over. All the time I assumed the IE problem was the same because the symptom was identical - I guessed I was trying to display a problematic image. Turns out I was wrong  - the IE problem persists.

One of the characteristics of the problem is that it can go a way for a long while, and then come back. When it comes back it happens at specific Web sites (e.g. Yahoo Web Mail) with high frequency and then it goes away for a while. I have been monitoring hardware temperatures and they are OK.
My hypothesis is that it is related to the advertising Flash'es or images displayed in the pages (all problematic pages are advertising-full, EE, for example and even CNN are always OK). I think specific advertisements are put on at different times with high frequency. When its one of those bad ads' turn to be shown then I am in frequent trouble.
This also fits the fact that the whole problem appeared on its own at some date (a few months back) - maybe some new Flash or imaging technological edge?
Where would I go to find out. Macromedia Web site didn't help.
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by:tanjnt
ID: 9875495
Maybe active content, such as Java, ActiveX, .net?  http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q154036

For Java  On the Tools menu, click Internet Options, click the Security tab, click the Internet Web content zone, and then click Custom Level.
In the Settings box, scroll down to the Scripting section, and click Disable under Active scripting and Scripting of Java applets.
Click OK, and then click OK again.

Actually, just go to that link and try the stuff instead of me copying and pasting all of it.

Also take a look at this page, and some of the others it links to:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=276393   I don't see anything precisely related to your problem, but it might point you in a useful direction.

It might also help if you get something like Startup Cop and get rid of everything not absolutely essential when you do the testing. A process of elimination, one thing at a time.
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