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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A recent story

by The Scummy One In reply to How do I test it?

I pulled an old system out of my closet a couple of months ago. It worked fine when I last used it, however when I moved I was too lazy to set it up.
Anyway, when I tried booting it it booted fine, and then hung hard (really hard) when loading my desktop. I thought it was a hard disk issue, so I put the drive in another system and backed up data without issue.

I decided to set the system up as a linux system, so I ran diags on it and booted to a live cd without the HDD installed (for diags). Memtest86 ran for a few hours and had no issues reported, motherboard came out fine, etc..
Everything seemed fine until I installed the HDD and tried booting again to XP, I powered it off and was sure that the drive was bad (or the install at least), so I rebooted to the live disk and went to partition the drive and install Linux. KDE hung trying to come up.
This would seem that somethign other than the HDD was a problem, however I was at a loss. The RAM was tested, the whole computer was tested. I was about to swap poer supplies thinking that was the most likely thing left. But I got lazy (again -- yes, I know it happens) and when the case was open I pulled a stick of RAM. When I booted XP came up without any issues/delays. So, I thought maybe it was just loose, as the memtest passed. I put it back in, and double checked the other, and it hung like -- well, I wont go there.
Anyway, I pulled the RAM back out and it worked fine again. So, to check the port, I put the good RAM in the second slot, and it still worked fine. I removed the good RAM and added the bad one, and couldnt even start to boot.
So I pulled the bad RAM and it has worked since.

This should show as far as tests go, a failing chip may show well when in fact it is not.
However, this is not too common, so you should likely look at TK's advice first, just another thing to throw in when you are ready to pull your hair out and go bald like me :0

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Check this Registry setting

by Jacky Howe In reply to Explorer is hanging at lo ...

Locate the registry key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\shell
Make sure that its value is set to explorer.exe.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

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by Slayer_ In reply to Check this Registry setti ...

That is how it is set

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Are you saying that

by Jacky Howe In reply to confirmed

you can logon as another user and everything is OK. If that is the case it maybe a corrupt profile.

How to copy data from a corrupted user profile to a new profile in Windows XP

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Yes and no

by Slayer_ In reply to Are you saying that

The other user seems to always work, but I log in so rarely to that other user, it could be a fluke. I was thinking the same however, making a new profile and using that instead.
But I would like to know the cause of this so it does not happen again.

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See if you cant run and then be able to access this

by Jacky Howe In reply to Check this Registry setti ...

I would download filemon from SysInternals. Start logging when you run your game. Then stop filemon from logging just after your error. Then look in the Filemon Log for any discrepancies.


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after some research...

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

Apparently this is all over the net... Some say the PS is the issue, some say the conflicting drivers with the over clocking utility... but I have yet to see anyone say "that fixed my problem"

I would look into your PS, make sure its strong enough. And try getting rid of the overclocking utility...

If i was in your position I would probably think about a fresh install of XP... because of all the crashes/hard kills... It cant hurt, and you can add it to the list of trouble shooting steps....

I own the 9800GTX+'s which does hang really bad when I over clock it... Also when I max out the settings in L4D my system hangs... which I will bet its my PS... (not enough power)
Which come to think about it, I am going to remove the OCing utility tonight and see if that helps, my own issue :)

added: come to think about both of my issues could be power related.... hm...

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by Slayer_ In reply to after some research...

Well, I installed the OCing utilitiy because of the game crashes, it would crash after a half hour if I didn't overclock, if I do overclock, it lasts about 2 hours.
My PS should be able to handle it, its a 550 Watt, $150. It is powering a lot of hardware but I havent had it run hot yet.

It's worth a try though, I can still overclock using Riva if I want too, don't really need nTune installed.

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nTune Deleted

by Slayer_ In reply to Interesting

Let's see if the problem is still around

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by Slayer_ In reply to Explorer is hanging at lo ...

So I used Riva to OC my VC back to the same levels, played about 1.5 hours of Mass Effect before it died, restarted the computer. And it logged back in fine. I'll do this a couple more times however before I consider this problem solved.

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