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Internet Explorer screen goes black - Veeeeery mysterious problem!

I am working on a multi-user, servlet-based intranet application that uses IE for its user interface.  A very bizarre problem is occurring whereby under heavy usage, Internet Explorer begins to slow down dramatically and then paints much of the screen in black and hangs.  At that point it is necessary to kill IE from the Task Manager.  Screen shot attached.

Interestingly, the blackness only applies to the screen background and graphics.  Text displays properly in its proper color.  However, since most text is displayed in black, most of it disappears against the black blackground, but all non-black text shows up in the proper color. Also control borders seem to be painted normally.

The user interface is such that each user function brings up a separate IE window in which the function is performed, and when done the user closes the window.  As a result, when a busy power user uses the system, many many windows are being opened and closed almost as fast as the user can click on them.   It seems like after some period of time, IE just can't take it any more and throws in the towel.

Although memory does seem to decrease while the system is being used, running out of memory is not the problem.  There is always plenty of free memory available when the screen goes black.  Also the CPU usage at the time is mostly idle.

We use Tomcat as our servlet engine, but it's not a serverside problem either.  The problem can affect one individual user while all the others are working fine.  The server never crashes or misbehaves when this happens and log messages show normal operation.

The problem is not related to IE version and has been seen to occur on versions 6, 7, and 8.  We do make use of a lot of Javascript and Ajax.  

Has anyone out there ever seen anything like this?  Any thoughts would be hugely appreciated.
Screen-Shot.bmp
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-Richard-
Asked:
-Richard-
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1 Solution
 
BigBadWolf_000Commented:
Try updateing your video driver on this PC
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-Richard-Author Commented:
Thank you for your input, BigBadWolf!  Unfortunately this was already tried and did not help the problem.
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
What happens in Firefox? Did you try it! Or is it that the use of IE is necessary due to unknown restrictive policies in your Origanization.

If it works well with Firefox, dump IE.

Ravi.
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-Richard-Author Commented:
Thanks for contributing, Ravi.  Yes, unfortunately it's corporate policy that the product must support IE.  
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
What about a corrupt user profile? Though I have a feeling it is not likely the issue.

How about safe mode of IE?

Ravi.  
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
Safe mode of IE = IE (No addons)

Sorry but I guess you got it before itself.

Ravi.
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-Richard-Author Commented:
Corrupt user profile:  how do I detect?  How do I fix?
Safe mode of IE: good suggestion and I will try it n Tuesday when I am in the office.  
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
No way to detect a corrupt user profile. Simply create a new user and see if it has the same issues.

Ravi.
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-Richard-Author Commented:
Sorry for delay, I was on vacation last wek, as were my contacts at the customer site.   I have asked my "favorite user" (the one that sees this phenomenon the most often) to try the "safe mode" idea and let me know how it works, will put up another post when she gets back to me.

The user profile idea can not be the solution since there are dozens of different users of the system who all experience the same problem, making it hard to beleve they all have corrupted user profiles.  But this does bring up an interesting point  One characteristic of this problem are that it consistently happens to some users more often than others, although it happens to all users at least occasionally.  The nature of the application is such that it has many distinct functional areas and different users tend to specialize in different areas of functionality.   This would be consistent with a theory that some kind of programming error is evident in some subset of pages in the system and the uses that frequent those pages more often see the problem more often.  But what kind of programming error could possily convince Internet Explorer to paint the whle screen black like that?  I keep thinking it could be some kind of Javascript or Ajax programming error, but I can't think of anything that would lead to black screens like that.  

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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
I agree with your idea of user profiles. Had it been one or at the most 3-4 users, I would have guessed so, but since most of them are facing the issue randomly, the corrupt profiles theory could be put to trash ;)

I have read in the EE guidelines about providing near to exact solutions rather than it could be this or it could be that or whatever and that falters my way of posting here, so if you find my ideas go astray please feel free to ignore them.

It could be that the Security Settings in IE that are not set properly as per the requirements of the application to work in your environment.

How about comparing them with a PC that is probably not facing the issue and the other PC that is facing those issues. You can find Security Settings under Control Panel >> Internet Options >> Security Tab >> Select Internet under "Select a Zone to view or change Security Settings" >> Custom Level.

Or Alternatively you can select almost everything to "Prompt / Enable" as you feel comfortable. Once the issue has been sorted, you can revert the settings to whatever you feel like.

Ravi.
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
Can you try reinstalling the Windows Scripting Host. It could be the issue here.

Lol:

I just hit on the idea that IE may have the bug itself and there is nothing much you can do anything about it (sorry, other than switching to a different browser, which your Organization does not allow)

There have been many questions about IE with most of them being given the theory of "Probably could be coding error in IE" and closed finally by pointing the users to firefox.

To test it out. Visit www.crashie.com on IE and it will crash.

See these Questions too,

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Microsoft/Applications/Q_24954510.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+explor+grtraders+internet+print

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Internet_Email/Web_Browsers/Internet_Explorer/Q_24969490.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+explor+grtraders+internet+print

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Internet_Email/Web_Browsers/Internet_Explorer/Q_24988771.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+code+grtraders

Ravi.


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-Richard-Author Commented:
I have some possible good news.  My "favority user" informs me that running IE in "safe mode" (third-party controls disallowed) seems to be having a beneficial effect after one day of use.  She is not absolutely sure since it's an intermittent problem anyhow, so she wants to spend some more time with it.  But at least there's a glimmer of hope.  Will repost when I know more.  
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Ravi AgrawalCommented:
Smart enough.

After complete success with safe mode uninstall all addons and then, try enabling each addon individually one by one later to find the real culprit behind all this.

This process could take several days to complete.

Ravi.
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-Richard-Author Commented:
The safe mode of IE suggestion turned out to be a tremendous help which greatly alleviated the customer's problems.   I have some more work to do to determine which of our ActiveX controls is the culprit, but Ravi's suggestion gave me the crucial breakthrough I needed.  I would give him a thousand points if I could!.  
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