Friday, April 17, 2009

Dell somtimes hangs on task bar after Windows XP starts

Okay, I’m having a mystery problem. Occasionally, on my five-year old Dell 8300 (XP Home) I get a hang on start up. It goes through the Windows musical signature and brings up the desktop. It is supposed to load McAfee and Mozy, but it just stops. The cursor may come up, but if you move it to the start menu or the bottom task bar, it turns into an hour glass. The monitor has "blinked" a couple times for the checking of the registry keys (although my laptop Inspiron never does this).

Sometimes it will work the second time if you hold the power button and reboot immediately. But today it didn’t.

So I tried hooking up my 2006 Inspiron (XP Pro) laptop on the same broadband line, bringing it up, going into Mozilla to bring up the Google screen, showing that the laptop was fully connected to Comcast, including the McAfee. Then I rebooted (cold) the Dell 8300 and this time everything worked.

I have a theory that it will try to connect to McAfee if there is a connection. If the connection stalls, the machine does not continue. Maybe in the amount of time it took to boot the Inspiron the line started working again, and that’s why the final reboot worked.

I checked defrag, and it says I do not need to defrag.

I also read online that if you attached another device through USB, make sure you disconnect it before turning off the machine. I had loaded pictures from my Samsung camera the last time, but had disconnected the device. But maybe I didn’t turn it off “correctly”.

Also, the last time, McAfee had replaced the security center and all components. But the machine had restarted OK from McAfee. Also, earlier yesterday, Microsoft had pushed eight fixes, but the machine had also restarted from the Microsoft panel all right. The virus scan is clean.

Another technique could be to do an extra warm restart after a major upgrade yourself before shutting down for a cold start.

I read a lot about going back to the System Disk, but that dates back to 2003, and is so old (so behind in Service Pack 2 and 3, etc.) that it sounds like a hopeless recovery if I ever tried it. As a whole, it seems like the 8300 has been less stable ever since Service Pack 3 last fall.

One other thing. Firefox is often slow to close, and when I have been in it for a long time and close all sessions, the icons on the desktop have to repopulate, slowly. I don't know what causes this. Once in a while, the icons stall at hard oot.

In December I had Hal errors, which required a Geek Squad visit.

I guess it is getting close to time on a 5 year old machine. But I hear bad things about Vista. Windows 7, according to Microsoft’s own writeup, might not be ready for prime time.

I’ve got the iMac from 2002. Everybody says that the Mac is still more stable. I wonder.

There are various forums on the XP hang problem online. The best one that I could find was on Techspot, here.

Anyone have experiences to share?

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