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cursor highlighted selection freezes

Dell desktop with XP S2 with 3 GB RAM.  Mouse and KB are wireless.  System wired to LAN.  When attempting to select an option (for example: clicking on START to see available programs or options) and then moving the cursor to the program or option to select, the cursor highlights the options while crossing them.  However, on many occasions, as the cursor moves across an option, the hightlighted option will remain highlighted (frozen) after the cursor has moved away from it.  Neither left or right mouse button has yet been clicked.  The highlighted area will eventually release and the cursor agains appear to be normal.  What could be causing this strange behavior?  BTW....it does not seem to happen if the LAN cable is disconnected from the system.  The system has a 2.9 Ghz Intel processor and no other tasks are running other than normal services.  Thanks for your thoughts on this issue which is more irritating than a pure failure.
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tonyadam
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tonyadam
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2 Solutions
 
Jackie ManCommented:
Have you tried to start XP from Safe Mode with Networking?

Have you used msconfig to troubleshoot startup services and programs?
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
Have not tried Safe Mode.  Will do.  I do know that even a wire mouse and KB cause the same problem so I think we discount this being related to the wireless mouse and KB.  How do you suggest I use MSCONFIG?  Should I discontinue all services and then bring them up one at a time?  That seems much too laborious since there are a large number of programs in MSCONFIG.
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BitsBytesandMoreCommented:
I've seen this problem many times and a lot of things come to mind: overheating, software, malware, etc...
This first thing you want to rule out is an overheating problem. It can damage your computer permanently. With compressed air remove the dust from the fans and heatsinks both from the processor as well as from the power supply and the video card.
I think you might want to start eliminating all variables. It might seem long or overkill but in the long run it will prove faster than just guessing and struggling with the uncertainty.
 
If I may, I would recommend that you run some basic tests in order: (some may have already been suggested above but run them in this order; otherwise we might be led to believe that a test was not causing or did not solve the problem).  
 
I always like to test the hardware first. It keeps you from making changes to the software settings and test after test that could potentially worsen the situation. Good hardware diagnostics software would be the one provided by manufacturer of your computer.
 
If you cant find one (or the manufacturer does not provide one) then try The Ultimate Boot CD. You can download from http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/ . It has on their website all kinds of tutorials for you to test all/most of your hardware components.
 
Place extra emphasis in running multiple iterations of tests for your memory and hard drive. If it is an intermittent fault, you might not catch it on the first run.
 
First Test:  Memory tests: go to http://www.memtest86.com and download memtest86+  

Second Test:  Here is a list of hard drive tests you can get depending on the manufacturer of your hard drive (these are usually very good):

Fujitsu http://www.fcpa.fujitsu.com/download/hard-drives/#diagnostic 
IBM and Hitachi http://www.hgst.com/hdd/support/download.htm#DFT   
Maxtor/Quantum http://www.maxtor.com/en/support/products/index.htm 
Samsung http://www.samsungelectronics.com/hdd/support/utilities/utilities_index.html 
Seagate http://www.seagate.com/support/seatools/index.html 
Western Digital http://support.wdc.com/download/index.asp?cxml=n&swid=1   
 
Spinrite is not brand specific but it is also very good.... http://grc.com/spinrite.htm 
Third Test: Double check for Malware. Even if you have already checked for viruses, spyware and other malware, try doing  it this way to minimize its chances of hiding..... you would be surprised to find out how some malware manages to recreate itself and pass undetected:

Go into Safe Mode with Networking.
Then go to this website and download this program:

MalwareBytes Anti Malware.... http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php 

Once downloaded (you may need to rename MalwareBytes before saving it to the desktop as some malware can recognize the name and block it unless renamed)

While still in Safe Mode, Go to Start-Run and type: Msconfig

Once in the application, go to the services tab and "hide all Microsoft services" select the remaining and disable". Then go to the Startup Tab and disable all entries.
Reboot.
 
After the system boots, go into NORMAL MODE it will give you a warning regarding the changes made by msconfig. Select do not warn me again. Now you can run the anti Malware.
 
Do not re-enable the services and items you disabled previously using msconfig yet. You can re-enable them at the end when you finish troubleshooting. If no bad hard hardware is found  and no malware is found, and now that the 3rd party applications services and startup items are out of the way... you can now proceed to the next tests
 
If it now works fast we know it is one of either the services or the startup items we just disabled.
 
Fourth Test: Making sure all Critical OS files are intact and not missing.

If it is still hanging with the startup items and the non Microsoft services disabled, from the command prompt type:

sfc /scannow             (notice the space between the c and the /)


Make sure you  run it as administrator.
Also make sure that you have a OS CD ....it might ask you for it...this will check that none of the critical OS files is missing or damaged....

If everything is ok it will not give you much feedback...
 

Fifth Test: Services and Startup Items Troubleshoot and Re-enabling by groups.

If the problem disappeared by disabling the startup items and non-Microsoft Services and reappears once you re-enable them, you will need to  enable the non Microsoft services by halfs.... first one half...test ... if it works, we know that the problem might be in the other half.....if it doesn't...we know that the problem is contained in the half we just enabled..... keep doing this with the services and the do the same with the startup items...... this will allow you to isolate what service or startup item is creating the problem.
 
 
You can quick test to verify if the hardware is failing by booting from a live Knoppix cd; if this runs fine, and does not freeze or reboot, your hardware  should be good. ftp://ftp.kernel.org/pub/dist/knoppix/KNOPPIX_V6.0.1CD-2009-02-08-EN.iso 
 
Well.... you've got your work cut out for you for this weekend.... Keep me posted on the results....  
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tonyadamRetiredAuthor Commented:
We've decided to go to W7 in about a week.  If that doesn't fix the problem, then I think we can be assured that we have a hardware problem.  Regardless, I want to thank each of you for providing some excellent suggestions.  I particularly appreciated the detailed suggestions provided by "bitsbytesandmore". Thank you.
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