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Why does my laptop boot up to the desktop wallpaper, but nothing else!

Posted on 2007-10-19
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
My wife is experiencing a strange problem with her work laptop. It's a Dell D620 w/XP. Suddenly, about 2 weeks ago and still continuing today, when she brings it home and boots it up, it comes up to the desktop wallpaper, but no desktop icons appear. You can move the mouse cursor, but that's it. No taskbar, no start menu via the Windows key, Ctrl+Alt+Delete doesn't work, nothing. A few times, after several reboots and a long 30-minute wait period, we finally got it to come up. But this is happening EVERY night now when she brings it home. She's never experienced this at work.

I guess the only difference between home and work is that at work she's plugged into the network when she boots, while at home we have a wireless network, and yes, the laptop automatically connects to it when it does boot up completely.

Any ideas?
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Question by:AndyatLaw
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Expert Comment

by:f-king
ID: 20108156
Is there anything else plugged in at home?
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by:AndyatLaw
ID: 20108183
No, she simply pulls it out of her bag, sets it on the counter, lifts the lid and hits the power button.
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vigante earned 1000 total points
ID: 20108291
try disabling you wireless first. If that doesnt solve any problems then try running it in safe mode, and see if you have everything right in msconfig
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by:Beachdude67
ID: 20108430
Here is what I would do.

First, see if you can get into safe mode. You can get into safe mode by pressing the F8 key as the laptop boots up. You'll get a menu that has several options - safe mode should be the 2nd or 3rd option down (and there are several, like safe mode with networking - but we just want safe mode).

See if the laptop will boot into safe mode. Sometimes it hangs going in to safe mode, and you will probably have to wait a few minutes, but it should come up. If it does, I would run spybot 1.5 and your antivirus software to see what comes up (you can get AVG antivirus for free if you don't have an antivirus). If you have a lot of garbage there, it may be preventing Windows from booting up.

Another thing you can try is to look in the event viewer once you are in safe mode. Go to start > control panel > administrative tools > event viewer. Check the system log and see if some service or software is hanging and causing the problem. It may be as simple as disabling or uninstalling that software.

If the PC does not boot into safe mode, you will probably need to do a repair installation of Windows XP. You can find instructions on how to do that here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315341

This will solve most, if not all, problems.
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by:f-king
ID: 20108762
does she use mains power or battery?
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by:AndyatLaw
ID: 20108777
We've tried both.
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by:Beachdude67
ID: 20109591
You might also want to go into safe mode and run chkdsk - a hard drive problem could cause this as well.
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Expert Comment

by:orangutang
ID: 20110329
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Author Comment

by:AndyatLaw
ID: 20110737
Well, long ago I installed Microsoft AntiSpyware/Windows Defender on her machine, and it's the best anti-spyware out there IMO.
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by:orangutang
ID: 20110971
Send us your HijackThis (http://majorgeeks.com/download3155.html) log.
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Assisted Solution

by:Dr-4N
Dr-4N earned 1000 total points
ID: 20111305
Try disabling the wireless Lan before starting windows or disable it from BIOS and start your machine again if this does not help then to the next possiblity which might sound silly but this can happen do you used to use the laptop in the same place in home as before, have you any other machines running near your laptop at home and the last thing is humidity it sounds odd but if you are describing that it takes 30 minutes then work almost normally then this might be due to the fact that when it works in a humid weather or if the trip home make the circuits humid and you start it heats up and evaporates humidity...I know this might sound crazy but try it. Do not start the laptop immediately when she returns home keep it somewhere at home where there is no humidity and leave it for 1 or 2 hours then start it.
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Author Comment

by:AndyatLaw
ID: 20113063
Well, I've shut down and booted up 3 times now, each time sliding the wireless radio switch on the laptop to the off position.  Each time it booted up without issue.  I guess this is my workaround?
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Expert Comment

by:Dr-4N
ID: 20117920
Do not start the laptop immediately when she returns home keep it somewhere at home where there is no humidity and leave it for 1 or 2 hours then start it.
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Author Comment

by:AndyatLaw
ID: 20117968
Always do.  Thanks for the responses, everyone!
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Expert Comment

by:OrganicSean
ID: 20141975
If Disabling the WIFI adapter make it so you are able to boot into windows correcrly than I would gander to say that her office changed something on the network and her machine is now sitting there waiting for a service or a response of some sort from her server at work.  Time issues is the same general jist of shutting down your computer and sittting there waiting for the machine to "Close network connections".  

I would create a new profile for her to log into her computer and see if the issue arises again.  If it doesnt you can migrate her data over to the new profile and viola you are all set.
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by:Computer101
ID: 20316536
Forced accept.

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