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System Icon within Control Panel of Windows XP is unresponsive

Posted on 2012-03-25
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Last Modified: 2012-04-24
Hi Everyone,

            For some odd reason, the System Icon within Control Panel of Windows XP is unresponsive.  It will not launch to reveal the hardware inventory of the Compaq laptop when it is double clicked.  All of the other icons within Control Panel are responsive; will launch as expected.  We believe this problem may have something to do with the corrupted Norton Security Suite which is also unresponsive and will not even uninstall.

            Any suggestions with respect to resolving this technical issue will be greatly appreciated.  I will look forward to hearing back from everyone regarding this post.

             Thank you

             George
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Question by:GMartin
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splait earned 200 total points
ID: 37763702
First of all, the Norton Security Suite can be removed by downloading the RNAV removal tool.  You get it here:

https://www-secure.symantec.com/norton-support/jsp/help-solutions.jsp?docid=kb20080710133834EN_EndUserProfile_en_us&lg=english&ct=united+states&product=home&version=1&pvid=f-home

If that doesn't work, search for "norton removal tool" on the www.norton.com website.

The control panels are stored in C:\Windows\system32 and have an extension of .cpl.  The System CP in sysdm.cpl.

See if you can find it there and report back.  Does it work when you open it?
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by:GMartin
ID: 37763783
Hi There,

            Thank you so much for your quick reply to this question.  Incidentally, I do see the sysdm file within the System32 subdirectory of Windows.  When I double click on it, nothing happens.  When I right click on this file; select Open with Control Panel, it is also unresponsive as well.  In terms of Type of file, it does show it to be Control Panel extension within the properties of this file eventhough I did not see the extension of .cpl next to the file name of sysdm.

              In the meantime, I will go ahead and download the RNAV Removal Tool given within  your link.   That should allow for the uninstallation of the Norton Security Suite.  

              Any further advisement regarding how to get the System Icon within Control Panel to launch again will be greatly appreciated.

              Thank you

              George
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by:splait
splait earned 200 total points
ID: 37763801
George, my guess is the reason you didn't see the extension is that feature is disabled.

After uninstalling Norton, see if it works.  It may be corrupt and you may need to reinstall it.

When you are all done with this, I strongly suggest, if you have the authority to do so, getting a different Internet security package.  Over the year, Norton AV and IS have created a number of problems for users.  If you wish, I can make some suggestions.
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by:splait
ID: 37763810
Do you get any error messages when you click the icon?  Do any other CP icons work?
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by:GMartin
ID: 37763853
Hi There,

               Thank you for getting back with me so quickly : - )  There is not any error message which appears when an attempt is tried to launch the System Icon within Control Panel or when an attempt is made to launch it within the system 32 folder.  It is just unresponsive.  All of the other icons within CP work just fine.  

                With respect to your kind offer to give an alternative anti-virus program to the pre-existing Norton Security Suite, could you provide one in addition to a direct download link for obtaining it?  

                 Thank you so much once again for your quick responsiveness to this question in addition to your insightful feedback.  I will go ahead now and downlad the RNAV tool and report back the results.

                  George
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by:splait
ID: 37763861
I will respond back early in the morning.   It is 8:30pm here and time to be with my family.

The company I recommend is ESET,  and can be found at www.eset.com. Their product is called SmartSecurity.
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by:GMartin
ID: 37764013
Hi

        Fair enough and thank you so much once again.

        George
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 150 total points
ID: 37764387
So, it won't open with Start->Run, sysdm.cpl [Enter], either?
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by:Vanguard_LH
Vanguard_LH earned 150 total points
ID: 37765442
That you don't see the .cpl extension is probably because you have Windows Explorer configured to "Hide extensions for known filetypes".  I think this is the default setting which I always change right after installing Windows XP.

You don't mention which *edition* of Windows XP that you have.  If it is NOT the Home Edition then you have access to the group policy editor (gpedit.msc).  Policies are nothing more than registry entries so it's possible to make the same edits in the registry using regedit.exe that gpedit.msc makes except I haven't memorized where are all the registry entries that gpedit.msc targets.  I recall seeing an MS KB article that listed all the registry entries for policies but I'd have to go search for it again.

Load gpedit.msc and go to the following tree node:
Computer Configuration
|___ Windows Settings
   |___ Security Settings
       |___ Software Restriction Policies
           |___ Additional Rules

Is there a rule to block (disallow) loading of sysdm.cpl?  If so, you won't see an error from that program because it isn't permitted to load in the first place.  However, in Event Viewer, you will see an entry that notes that file wasn't allowed to load.  Under the Application group, a restricted (blocked) program will show up as "Warning ... Software Restriction Policies".  
   
When you try to load sysdm.cpl, do you see any entry in Event Viewer at that time?  It's easier to clear out the Applications and System groups by right-clicking on them to clean out all old entries and start fresh.  Then try to load sysdm.cpl and go back into Event Viewer to check for new entries.

There is a registry key of Control Panel extensions that are not allowed to load.  If an CP extension is listed, it is not allowed to load.  So check if the following registry key has a data item listed under it for sysdm.cpl:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\don't load

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/207750 notes how this can be pushed via domain policies but anyone or any program can edit the registry to alter this key.  Rather than do the registry editing directly (by adding the filename here with a "no" value to hide it or "yes" or deleting the entry to show it), you can use the TweakUI powertoy under its "Control Panel" tree node to select which CP extensions to show/hide.  However, it's my understanding that "load" simply means the CP extension won't *show* in Control Panel's listing.  That is, you can prevent the user from seeing the CP extension but that doesn't prevent them from running it directly if they know either the .cpl filename or the parameter to appwiz.exe that runs the applet.

When you right-click on the sysdm.cpl file and look at its properties under the Security tab, what permissions are set on it and for which groups or usernames?

When you run sysdm.cpl, are you sure its window is positioned so it is placed within the viewable screen area?  Maybe it's offscreen.  When you "run" sysdm.cpl, something else actually has to interpret it.  It's not a direct executable but an extension.  When you load sysdm.cpl, do you see a new rundll32.exe process get loaded when looking in Task Manager's Processes tab?  If so, then sysdm.cpl is getting load ... by rundll32.exe.  The full command line is:

"rundll32.exe" shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL "C:\WINDOWS\system32\sysdm.cpl",

This can be seen by using SysInternals' Process Explorer (or other utilities, like Process Lasso).  rundll32 is used because a .cpl file is a DLL (dynamically linked library) that has Control Panel code or methods within it.  So if you see rundll32.exe show up when you load sysdm.cpl, the System applet is loading but maybe it's offscreen.

When a window is offscreen, how do you get it onscreen?  With focus on the app's window (like you just loaded it and it opened its window), hit the Alt+Spacebar key combo.  That opens the Control menu for the window.  Then hit M.  That's the shortcut key to the Move menu item.  If the window were within the screen, you'd see the cursor change to a 4-pointer shape (the directions you can move the window).  Now use the up, down, left, and right arrow keys (on the arrowpad on the keyboard) to move around the window until part of it is inside the screen.  You'll have to guess by keep hitting the arrow keys until the window moves into the screen.  Once you hit Alt+Spacebar and M, use the arrow keys to move around the window.  To void the window move, hit the Esc key and the window goes back to where it was.  To end the window movement using the arrow keys, hit the Enter key to keep the window where it got repositioned.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 37767100
Hi

          I am sorry for omitting the version of XP on this laptop.  It is the Professional Edition, SP3.  At the moment, I am at work.  But, I will get back on this project tonight after carefully reviewing the latest suggestions.  

          Many thanks once again for the great feedback given to this post.  I will get back with everyone regarding my progress tonight.

           George
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by:splait
ID: 37793985
George, where are you with all this?
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by:GMartin
ID: 37794456
Hello Everyone,

               Sorry for the delay in getting back to this project.  I got pulled away from it because of other things going on.  At any rate, here is what I have found out so far using the registry tip Vanguard LH.  With the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\don't load
, I see the following three names with their Data values which are as follows: (Default) which has a value of (value not set)., ncpa.cpl with a Data value of No., and odbccp32.cpl with a Data value of No.    Of course, whenever the System icon is double-clicked within Control Panel, it never really launches.  There are not any error messages either.  It is just unresponsive.

                 I did try the "rundll32.exe" shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL "C:\WINDOWS\system32\sysdm.cpl", command at the Run section, but, I never could get to to full enter into the command line box.  The command parameter was getting substituted for earlier entries put into this box such as regedit, msconfig, etc.  I am not sure how to work around that part to see if this command parameter would manually load the System Icon.

                  George
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by:Darr247
ID: 37794860
> I did try the "rundll32.exe" shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL "C:\WINDOWS\system32\sysdm.cpl", command at the Run section

You shouldn't need all that. As I said in http:#a37764387 all it should take is

Start->Run, sysdm.cpl [Enter]
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by:Vanguard_LH
Vanguard_LH earned 150 total points
ID: 37794871
You don't see an error when you load the System applet in Control Panel.  I didn't suggest you should try to run the full command for rundll32.exe to load it.  I suggested to look in Task Manager's Processes panel to see if a new rundll32.exe process shows up when you load the System applet.

Load Task Manager.  Go to its Processes tab.  Scroll down until any process starting with "r" would appear within the range of shown processes.  Then open the System applet to see if a new rundll32.exe process shows up.
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Author Comment

by:GMartin
ID: 37847663
Hi Everyone,

             I am so very sorry for taking so long to get back to this question.  To be perfectly honest, I have several different projects going on with this one laptop.  At any rate, here is the current status of this situation which will prompt further technical guidance.  First, when I click Start > Run > entered sysdm.cpl > Enter, nothing really happens.  The System icon which belongs to Control Panel never launches.  And, secondly, after running the Norton Removal Tool downloaded from symantec.com which aided in completing the uninstallation of Norton PC Checkup, I no longer even see the System icon within Control Panel.  With this point in mind, I am going to need some step by step instructions for getting this applet within Control Panel to reappear.  I am assuming I can use my XP CD to restore the System icon.  But,  this is speculation on my part; could be wrong.  I do not want to make matters worse here.  So, I will wait for further instructions before proceeding here.

                I will look forward to reviewing any further suggestions given to this post.  

                George
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 150 total points
ID: 37847849
If you look in c:\windows\system32 and sysdm.cpl is there, double-click on it and see if it will start. If it won't start, right-click it and choose Properties. Note its file size in bytes (NOT the amount of disk space it uses) and its time stamp.

If you look in c:\windows\system32 with Explorer and sysdm.cpl is actually NOT there, drill down one more subdirectory level to c:\windows\system32\dllcache and find the backup copy. I prefer clicking View and choosing Details when looking in those subdirs; your mileage may vary.

Right-click and drag it over to the tree on the left and drop it on the system32 folder, and when the popup dialog appears, click Copy Here. If your finger slips off the right-click button or it slips and you drop it in the wrong folder, just click Cancel and start over.

Copy backup sysdm.cpl to system32
The blue color means the files are compressed, but when you copy one to an uncompressed folder, Explorer should expand it for you automatically.
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by:Vanguard_LH
Vanguard_LH earned 150 total points
ID: 37848158
If you don't see the System applet in Control Panel then perhaps a group policy (security setting) has it hidden.  You said you have Windows XP but not which edition of it.  If you have the Home Edition then the following isn't usable to you.  If you have the Professional, or better, edition then you have access to the group policy editor.

- Run the group policy editor (gpedit.msc).
- Go to the following node in the tree list:
    User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Control Panel    
- Look at the properties for the "Hide specified Control Panel applets"
- Set to "Not Configured" (the normal default) or "Disabled".

I don't know if you need to logout and login to effect the change.

I already mentioned the "don't load" registry setting to hide applets in Control Panel.  All policies are registry settings so it is possible the make the above changes by editing the registry; however, with the Home Edition, you have to reboot into Windows' safe mode to logon under the Administrator group (unless you create another admin-level Windows account under which you can login).  If you don't have gpedit.msc to use then download and use Microsoft's TweakUI powertoy for Windows XP.

- Run tweakui.exe.
- Go to the tree node "Control Panel".
- Make sure all applets are selected so they are visible in Control Panel.
  (The odbc applet is usually disabled.)

Note that hiding a Control Panel applet does not prevent it from running.  It is just hidden in the list shown in Control Panel.

Have you inspected the Event Viewer to see if there was a recorded event at the time you loaded sysadm.cpl?

Does "nothing really happens" mean you do NOT see a new instance of rundll32.exe show up in Task Manager's Process tab?

Have you tried rebooting into Windows' safe mode to test if sysadm.cpl won't load?
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by:GMartin
ID: 37848592
Hi Everyone,

              Thanks so much for the followup suggestions.  I will be trying those out today.  Just in case it is needed, could someone provide a direct download link for Microsoft's TweakUI utility?

               Thank you
 
               George
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by:splait
ID: 37848610
http://windowsxp.mvps.org/tweakui.htm

It's under Featured Downloads and is in the forth row down, three over.
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by:GMartin
ID: 37889976
Hi Everyone,

             Thanks so much for the insightful feedback given to this question.  I am pleased to say this problem is now resolved.  Actually, it was a bit more complicated than I originally thought because of the chain reaction of events leading up to this problem.  Basically, the System icon was missing from Control Panel because of a corrupted operating system which was caused by a failing hard drive.  The conclusion of the hard drive failing was supported following an analysis of the drive using a Western Digital Diagnoistic test built or integrated into UBCD or Ultimate Boot CD.  

              If the hard drive itself was not failing, many if not all of the suggestions would certainly had proven fruitful in the resolution of this problem.  This problem was resolved by removing the battery from the laptop so no power was going to it, removing the defective IDE 80GB Western Digital Harddrive from the laptop, installing a new IDE 160GB Western Digital Harddrive, installing Windows XP Pro SP2, and loading drivers which were not loaded by the OS after installation.  Now, everything works great on the laptop once again.  

               Thanks again everyone for the well thought out ideas and suggestions given to this post.

               George
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