Explorer is hanging at login and other odd times

By Slayer_ ·
I am Running Windows XP Pro, Sp3.

The Problem, Explorer seems to hang randomly, at first only when trying to login to the machine, now it has done it while in normal opperation.

So this all started when I started playing Mass Effect for PC. A fun game to be sure, but it has a nasty problem, it crashes, but it doesn't die peacfully, it would seamingly crash your video drivers with it. I run a duel monitor setup, and what would happen is the game would hang, and the primary monitor would black out, and the secondary would suddenly get the task bar, icons, etc. and be the primary, with a hidden secondary. If you look in display properties, it has now loaded the default VGA driver. There are several strange artifacts left over aswell, like the shutdown/restart computer window, will mysteriously just be floating buttons with a black line for a border where the Window usually is.
Restarting the computer would magically fix the problem, everything would go back to the way it was. The crash would not stop the computer from gracfully shutting down and restarting, no hard resets required.
After a few days, when I would restart the computer, and try to login, it would just sit there. I would click my icon at the welcome screen, it would scroll into position and just sit there. I can control alt delete and finally see my walpaper, but no icons, explorer refuses to load. I can end task it, then try and load it manually, still doesn't work. Interestingly, I can login as a different account and (so far) it seems to work 100% of the time.

Up till now, a second restart would fix the problem, so I never gave it much attention.

Then yesterday, it happened, I restarted, and it happened again, it took 4 restarts to get it too work. It finally magically worked, after I used spybot to kill some new DLL (was bold) and suddely logging in worked. It was an MS DLL for apperently notifying stuff for login and logouts and was recommeneded to not be shutdown. I turned the DLL back on and stuff kept working. I did malware scans with Spybot and virus scans with Avira, clean on both fronts. So I did a new files search on my system, except for Mass Effect game files and temp internet files, there is nothing new in the last 4 months.
Also yesterday, after it finally booted, and worked, I was using it. I plugged in my MP3 player and got the safte to remove hardware icon, so I procedded to go and hide it. I went into taskbar properties, told it to always hide, clicked OK, and it hung that propertise window, which of course hung explorer. Explorer crashed, and I could not restart it manually. It would just hang, just like it does when trying to login. At this time I had not played Mass Effect on that session, so now I find it hard to believe that could be the problem.

I have done chkdsk C: /f and I have defragged, done the usual. Explorer.exe seems fine. All my startups look good.

Anyone have any ideas what is causing this or how I can fix it?

New Info from comments

Also, Temperatures look good (This is at the highest strain, mid game, at idle they are much lower), GPU at 49-50C, CPU at 40C, HDD's at 26C each, Main board at 25C.

I've since deleted nTune

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All Answers

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sounds like...

by ---TK--- In reply to Explorer is hanging at lo ...

a driver or heat issue... mainly b/c the issue seems to elevate when you are running your system pretty hard... What graphics card are you running?

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9600 GT

by Slayer_ In reply to sounds like...

But that doesnt explain why it died on me on a session where I had not played.

Also, Temperatures look good (This is at the highest strain, mid game, at idle they are much lower), GPU at 49-50C, CPU at 40C, HDD's at 26C each, Main board at 25C

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System Restore Enabled?

by robo_dev In reply to 9600 GT

Go back to the pre-game state.

My guess would be that the game seriously whacked your DirectX drivers.

I would start with System Restore, followed by reloading video drivers, then digging into
the directX diags tool, system file checker, etc.

If it's some weird virus/malware thing, then process explorer from Microsoft may help.

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I've updated Video Drivers

by Slayer_ In reply to System Restore Enabled?

Several times since intitial install, so thats probably not likely, but DirectX could be, perhaps I shall try reinstalling that.

I have system restore enabled, but it was 3 months ago that I installed it, so if restore actually restores, it may break more than it fixes, I'd like to hear other possiblities first before trying system restore.

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Could be a bad memory chip

by The Scummy One In reply to Explorer is hanging at lo ...

or bad video card/video RAM

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Why would that hang explorer?

by Slayer_ In reply to Could be a bad memory chi ...
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Load a bootable Linux distro on CD

by robo_dev In reply to Why would that hang explo ...

if that pukes, then it's a hardware problem for sure.

to me it sounds like you've got a damaged DLL of some sort.

Look at your Event Logs to see if things are failing.....

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I can so far login as other users

by Slayer_ In reply to Load a bootable Linux dis ...

Such as, My user can be broken and not logging in, but I can open task manager, log myself out, and login as someone else and it works.
Which lead me to believe it was a startup, right up until it happened WHILE i was using it, and couldnt reload explorer after it died.

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Depending on how severe

by The Scummy One In reply to Why would that hang explo ...

the damage is to the memory, can determine how severe the system acts. Hangs can be from the memory (usually virtual) not being read properly, however physical memory can have the same effect(s).
when the memory is damaged worse, the system will crash instead (taking out a monitor until reboot may be a mini crash).
If you cannot find another reason for it, test the memory/video card, as it may lay right there.

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How do I test it?

by Slayer_ In reply to Depending on how severe

I ran the nTune stability tests for an hour, it showed fine, what else can I do to test it?

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