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Taskbar Won't Load

ShiftCo asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
A friend has dropped his laptop on my desk with the comments "it wont load"
Its history is unknown as his son as been playing with it.

It is a new Acer Aspire 5102WLMi running XP Home Edition. It can only be a couple of weeks old and has very little installed.

It boots up fine and jumps straight to the desktop (no password & 1 user account)

However the taskbar never loads completely, it is visible with the start button and time but nothing else.
When the mouse pointer is hovered over it, it simply shows the hourglass. Clicking L or R buttons, the start button on the keyboard all yield nothing

The desktop icons are present but also do nothing, as does the desktop.

Typing in the title of this question into google shows some newsgroup results but I am unable to view them because of the company webblocker.

Trying to boot in safe mode crashes the computer with a large block of white text on black background all saying:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS\system32\DRIVERS\***.sys         where *** are all different filenames e.g. ultra.sys, disk.sys, agp440.sys etc etc

I have let the diskchecker do its job without finding anything.

I cant enter MSCONFIG as I cant access the Run box, though when I first booted it up, it opened automatically, after a couple of reboots, it doesnt.

From what I understand it is some kind of problem loading drivers???

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try opening the task manager... Ctrl + Shift + Esc (Do this AS SOON as you can see the desktop)

Look in the processes list for anything using lots of CPU and end that process. It sounds like you have the same problem a few of my mates are having... scvhost.exe (or svchost.exe) will be running at %100. Apparently this is down to an exploitation attempt.

If it is this same problem, then rest assured his son has done nothing to provoke it. It is quite common and has only the outside web-world to blame!

There is a patch you can install from microsoft that close the loophole (ill try to find it and post it later)...

For now, please refer to the following link for more information:


Assuming this problem IS the same as the one I have seen...


Nope, Taskmanager will open up if i'm quick but no, system idle is still at the top almost all the time with svchost moving up to 2nd place for about a second every 10 - 15 seconds of so.

And I cant read the link you have just posted until I get home - bl**dy webblocker!



In the task manager window under the performance tab, the CPU graph windows do n=both show 4 peaks of 50% useage at all times flowing along, so you are onto something, do I just have a smaller version of the problem???
Chris BRetired

I have had a couple of Acers do that. Bung the recovery disk in and start again. I think it is an issue with their image setup.

Chris B


But what caused it to start doing it?
What if it does it straight again afterwards?
I'm happy to use the recovery disk to start again, but only once there is an overall solution.
Chris BRetired

<<But what caused it to start doing it?>> Absolutely no idea, but it seems to happen with some regularity on new machines. Weird. If it is drivers, you should be able to tap it into safe mode (F8), then perhaps try an sfc /scannow. I never bothered. New, no go, trash it and start again. Works for me. One thing for sure, Acer are not running the install disks, just a hi speed image load and shipping. And adding a lot of extra rubbish that do XP no good at all.

Chris B
It would probably benifit you to look further into the problem before you rebuild it, so that if it does happen again, you'll know what is going on. But its up to you, it may just be easier to rebuild it and hope for the best (there are obviously issues with this manufacturer).

If you do want to diagnose it...

As you've already taken everything out of the startup list, the only problems remaining are with windows services. This is why i instantly thought svchost.exe. Even if it isn't riding up to 100%, ending the process(s) should restore the machine back to a normal state. Another step would be to unplug network connections so its just a stand alone PC.

You should still be able to get into safe mode... whilst booting into safe mode, its normal to see a screen full of white text. this is for troubleshooting so you can see what drivers are currently being loaded, so if it crashes then you can see where it has crashed. NOTE. it will always take a long time to load "MUP.sys", i know alot of people that think it has crashed, but if you leave it it should load into windows.

Once in safemode, the PC should run smoothly as its designed to run on the minimum amount of drivers and services (so theres a good chance the service thats causing the problem will be turned off). check the event logs for anything that may provide you with any information as to what is causing the problem, and scan the PC with anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

There is a windows service called sVChost.exe... and a trojan called sCVhost.exe. There easy to mix up... So if you see the latter in the process list, it is the same problem ive seen, and you will indefinately need to scan for virus's.

When booted normally, you can use the following program to properly explore all running processes. It will explain in good detail what each process is doing, so you can easily see if anything suspicious is going on:

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OK, you are correct, if I leave it long enough (about 7 or 8 minutes) it finally boots in Safe mode.
The last line of text that it sticks on is:

And, yes, it does run smoothly, so whatever has caused the problem is now not running.

In the event log there were a few errors so I decided to do another reboot and then re-examine the event log.

However, upon reboot, it informs me that the boot.ini file is missing or corrupt and that the

windows.root>\system32\hal.dll file is missing or corrupt and that I should re-install the file.

So I need to repair XP etc.

Wierd! I'm pretty sure I didn't mess with anything but googling the problem sounds like its common as well.

Conclusion: I will get the recovery CD, repair XP and then reboot and examine the event log.

I can't download the neuber software until I get home anyway.

Thanks for your help so far...
Can you get into any kind of GUI? does safe mode still work? If you can, look for the Boot.ini (root of C) and open it. Ensure the following line is at the bottom...

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect /KERNEL=NTOSKRNL.EXE /HAL=HAL.DLL

You may notice a line similar... if thats the case, then just make sure "/KERNEL=NTOSKRNL.EXE /HAL=HAL.DLL" is stuck on the end.

Reboot again (if any changes have been made), if it still doesn't work, then we need to reinstall the HAL type.

You can reapply the HAL type from safe mode (Well you just need a command prompt)... as long as the I386 folder is on the local drive (unless you can stick your XP cd in and use the I386 folder from there)...

There are several different HAL types, depending on your CPU type (Uniprocessor, MultiProcessor etc.), a cpu with HT (Hyper-Threading) technology is classed as a MultiProcessor.

It might be worth making a backup of the existing files just in case something goes wrong... so before you do anything...
goto command prompt... type the following two lines:

Rename C:\Windows\System32\Hal.dll  C:\Windows\System32\Hal.dllBACKUP
Rename C:\Windows\System32\NTOSKRNL.exe C:\Windows\System32\NTOSKRNL.exeBACKUP

Now, for a multiprocessor...
type the following from a command prompt:

Expand <I386Folder>\Halmacpi.dl_ c:\Windows\System32\Hal.Dll
Expand <I386Folder>\NTKRNLMP.ex_ c:\Windows\System32\NTOSKRNL.exe

For a uniprocessor (If you are unsure, do this one)...

Expand <I386Folder>\Halacpi.dl_ c:\Windows\System32\Hal.Dll
Expand <I386Folder>\NTOSKRNL.ex_ c:\Windows\System32\NTOSKRNL.exe

As long as the boot.ini contians the above mentioned line, all you need to do is reboot... :)


Nope, can't access anything, whatever I do, it comes back to the same messsage.

The guy is going to bring in the recovery CDs etc tomorrow

After that, i'll try your steps, cheers!



Well, it locked down completely and would not respond to anything. I could not access a ommand line, nor enter safe, or any other mode for that matter.
I booted from the CD and restored Windows because the guy needed the computer and wasnt bothered about discovering the exact problem.
So, inconclusive!
I'm awarding points to DjDezmond as you the were most helpful, and the points you have made will be useful i he brings it back in.
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