Icons and taskbar won't appear unless in safe mode

By Hylsnan
Apr 23, 2013
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  1. I have Windows XP professional w/SP3. It's been run hard every day since 2006 or so. I suspect it has a deeply ingrained form of malware or virus or some deleted file or other horrible thing. Recently when I boot up it takes over 10 minutes to load and then the welcome chime never happens and the icons and taskbar will not load, all I see is my background. I hit ctrl+alt+del and there are only 21 processes going and explorer.exe IS actually one of them. In the past I've been able to boot up in safemode and do a system restore to the day before and go on my merry way. Not so this morning, I tried a couple different system restore points and they wouldn't go through. I had contacted microsoft and they suggested it was a corrupt user profile. We went through the process of creating a new user profile and tried to copy the files over but got an error message saying that some of them could not be accessed and the dump was stopped. So I deleted the attempted new user was told to reinstall windows by microsoft and have come here instead. I am not computer savvy, I know how to do what I'm told and click the scan button on Bitdefender and Malwarebytes. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware from here. Install it. Make sure it is up to date with the latest definitions (it should be if you install it immediately after you download it). Run a full scan overnight. If no results come up, you may have to run a disk clean up and defragmentation. Download and run CCleaner. After that cleanup is complete, run a defragmentation using these directions: http://www.microsoft.com/resources/.../all/proddocs/en-us/snap_defrag.mspx?mfr=true

    If that doesnt work, you may have to reinstall the OS (clean install). My old XP machine took forever to load because I loaded it up with a bunch of junk and barely had any free space and RAM.
  3. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,427   +618

    I'd just reinstall from scratch, as mentioned above. The easiest way.

    You say you're not computer savvy yet you know about explorer.exe and what it does. Props to you. :)
    JC713 likes this.
  4. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    I was wondering about that lol. :eek:
  5. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Well Malwarbytes found nothing.
    Here is the Log:

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.75.0.1300
    www.malwarebytes.org

    Database version: v2013.04.22.04

    Windows XP Service Pack 3 x86 NTFS (Safe Mode/Networking)
    Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702
    Administrator :: DOVER-NCP [administrator]

    4/23/2013 5:53:48 PM
    mbam-log-2013-04-23 (17-53-48).txt

    Scan type: Full scan (C:\|D:\|)
    Scan options enabled: Memory | Startup | Registry | File System | Heuristics/Extra | Heuristics/Shuriken | PUP | PUM
    Scan options disabled: P2P
    Objects scanned: 596913
    Time elapsed: 1 hour(s), 17 minute(s), 58 second(s)

    Memory Processes Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Memory Modules Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Keys Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Values Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Data Items Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Folders Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Files Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    (end)
    Running CCleaner now, then defragging and we'll see how that goes. I reallllllly realllllly don't want to do a reinstall. If I do have to reinstall windows how would I go about doing that? I have no idea.
    Not many props to me, I only know that explorer.exe is the executable program that lets you wander around and "explore" windows.
  6. learninmypc

    learninmypc TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 5,163   +227

    To reinstall the OS, you'd have to have the genuine CD & then go into boot options setting the CD drive as first. Put the OS CD in, shut down, wait 30 seconds & push the power button. You might have to press F8 to accept & if not not wrong,it'll start by formatting the harddrive. I've done it a few times (too many) & it took me a little over 4 hours to get it done. Good luck. Someone else can help further.
  7. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Ran CCleaner, did a defrag and rebooted. Very slow, no sounds, no icons, no taskbar. Tried a system restore and got the message that the system was unable to restore to that point. Tried another point, still would not restore, tried a point over a month old, and still not able to restore. Am back in safe mode with networking.
    What can I do?

    This computer didn't come with a Windows disc. It's a HP ProBook 4710s and didn't come with any installation disks at all actually, was bought for a pretty penny all setup, directly from HP.
  8. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    There are usually sites that provide links to ISOs that you can burn to disks and install. But it seems like all of the clean (malware free) ISOs I have found have been removed. If you contact MS, they will probably tell you to upgrade to Win 7. Maybe try making a system repair disk. It may prompt you for a disc though. I think your best bet is to find a friend or someone you know who has a Windows XP disc and ask them to clone it. If you have no access to a disc, there is no way you can reinstall.
  9. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Well that is a huge bummer, why the heck would HP sell a laptop with no backup discs?
    So just for fun, I rebooted my computer and let it load up normally, this took about 15minutes for my background to appear and as usual no icons or task bar. Just for fun I hit ctrl+alt+del and brought up the task manager. only 17 processes were running and for more fun I ended the explorer.exe process then started it again. WHOOOSH BANG, icons and task bar appear. BUT that's all they did, I can open programs, but they will not run. The second I click on them to do anything they freeze and that lovely little post (not responding) shows up on them. I have a feeling I have a very nasty something or rather that may / may not have corrupted my explorer.exe file and extensions? Should I start a new thread and see if perhaps this is a virus of some sort? Do you think there is a chance of recovery?
  10. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

  11. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I have Windows XP w/SP3 should I still try to reload the icon cache? I'm not sure it's an icon issue. I've let my computer sit now for a few hours and my programs have finally loaded and will now run......it's very odd and looking more and more like I have some nasty bug running amok in this puter of mine. My task manager has gone from 17 processes to 32. It's letting me access the web now, and my c:\ files and other programs as well. I'll run malware bytes and get that report to you as soon as it's finished.
    thank you so much for the help!!!!
     
  12. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    No problem. Yeah, the cache isnt the issue then. Can you post your specs?
  13. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Specs: Microsoft Windows XP
    Professional
    Version 2002
    Service Pack 3

    Registered to: 76487-OEM-0011903-00101

    HP
    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU
    P8700 @2.53GHz
    2.53 GHz, 2.96 GB of RAM

    I don't know how to do a screen capture or I would show what processes are running right now.
    Currently 35
    commit charge 1191M/4920M
    I have malwarebytes doing its thing and will send the log as soon as I get back in tomorrow.
  14. learninmypc

    learninmypc TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 5,163   +227

    To do a screen capture on XP Pro tap the PrtScn key then
    1. Click Start, click Accessories, and then click Paint.
    2. In the Paint window, click Edit, and then click Paste.
    3. When the image appears in the Paint window, click File, and then click Save As.
    4. In the Save As dialog box, in the File name box, type a name for the screen shot, and then click Save
  15. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thank you so much!
    Here are the two screen captures from my task manager, let me know if you need anything else. I'll send everything I need to get this puppy fixed
  16. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I apologize as the screen captures didn't attach. Here they are again. task manager performance screen.JPG task manager processes.JPG
  17. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    You have a good 1.89GB of memory available. That shouldnt be the source of a slowdown, especially considering that Malwarebytes uses up a lot of memory while scanning. You can look up a ton of interesting info about processes at this great site: http://www.processlibrary.com/. It advises you whether to delete a process or not. It may be worth a try to give Solutu a try. I first found out about this startup like 4-5 years back when I read about it in the New York Times. I downloaded it onto my slow XP PC and it really helped. That was 5 years back and it was still in early beta. It is probably 10x better now. I havent used it since 3 years or so back when I got my Win7 PC. I know how to do what it does manually now. All what the software does is remove processes that are unnecessary to your startup (at least that is what it did when I used it). I am sure it has just added features over the years. Tell me how your experience is with it.
  18. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.75.0.1300
    www.malwarebytes.org

    Database version: v2013.04.22.04

    Windows XP Service Pack 3 x86 NTFS
    Internet Explorer 8.0.6001.18702
    Administrator :: DOVER-NCP [administrator]

    4/24/2013 5:38:23 PM
    mbam-log-2013-04-24 (17-38-23).txt

    Scan type: Full scan (C:\|D:\|)
    Scan options enabled: Memory | Startup | Registry | File System | Heuristics/Extra | Heuristics/Shuriken | PUP | PUM
    Scan options disabled: P2P
    Objects scanned: 501241
    Time elapsed: 2 hour(s), 28 minute(s), 42 second(s)

    Memory Processes Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Memory Modules Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Keys Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Values Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Registry Data Items Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Folders Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    Files Detected: 0
    (No malicious items detected)

    (end)
    There is the log from Malwarebytes, it didn't find anything unfortunately. I still only have 34 processes running so something is keeping my computer from loading properly. I'll run solutu and see if it finds anything. I still suspect I've got a virus though.
  19. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Installed Soluto rebooted and it came up perfectly. followed their suggestions.
    computer working like a charm. one of these days I'll drop some cash for a new windows 8 system, thank you very very much for the help!!!!
    super appreciated!!!!
  20. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    Good to hear my friend :D. Clean installing would have been a huge hassle. I am not too familiar with the Windows XP installation either. I am glad that such a simple solution helped you out. Malwarebytes would have found the virus if there was one. Make sure you dont have more than 1 antivirus running, that could also be a mild issue (malwarebytes isnt Antivirus).
  21. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    Soluto probably disabled a process that was running and is known to slow down your PC. I Guess there may have been a process that was causing a slowdown.
  22. Hylsnan

    Hylsnan Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I went through with CCleaner and took all traces of AVG off. So now I just have Bitdefender for my antivirus and malwarebytes for any snarky malware that might creep on. Thank you again for the help, this old comp hasn't run so nicely in a few years!! :)
  23. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,797   +882

    Good to hear buddy. Yeah, you should never run more than 1 antivirus at once.


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