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I'm running Windows 7 on a Dell Studio 1535 laptop, normal midrange laptop specs. As of last night, whenever I start Windows, it makes it to the blue login screen at a normal pace, lets me enter my credentials, and then slows to a near-halt when I press login. If I wait a few minutes, it will make it to the desktop, at which point every single thing appears to happen at a glacial pace, forever. My computer continues to act like a 386 trying to run Windows 7 until I shut it off.

Task Manager, if I manage to open it and it stays open, doesn't show anything awry or any odd processes. Nothing unusual shows up in the Windows event log. I have almost nothing running at startup. My laptop's plugged in, the fan is running fine, I ran memtest and it came up fine. I have plenty of disk space. No peripherals are plugged in.

When I start in safe mode, I experience the same thing, except it's marginally more usable since safe mode is so lightweight. Still, exactly the same. Once in a while a program I open will just explode and throw up a "foo has stopped working" dialog, presumably due to the extreme lack of resources -- but what resources?

I have this Windows installation on a hard drive with Ubuntu on another partition, and I dual-boot them, but my setup in this regard has not changed for a while. It was still working fine last week after Tuesday Windows updates. I haven't done anything else strange that comes to mind.

Any ideas as to how to troubleshoot this that are easier than 'reinstall'?

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What's your wallpaper? I do believe win7 has... issues with the single-colour wallpapers. – Phoshi Feb 16 '10 at 0:48
My wallpaper is a 1920x1200 JPG, but in safe mode, it's just black anyway, so I doubt that's the culprit. – user28385 Feb 16 '10 at 1:03
Does it run normally after it "settles down"? Is there builtin wireless? Any devices complaining in device manager? – SqlACID Feb 16 '10 at 1:14
As far as I can tell, there is no "settling down". It stays in this semi-functional state for as long as I have patience to wait. It has built-in wireless, and it's configured to connect to my AP by default, but that, too, is disabled in safe mode. I'll check out Device Manager now which is a good and obvious idea. – user28385 Feb 16 '10 at 1:17
It looks like the only thing slightly off in Device Manager is that my IR port isn't loading its drivers properly. I don't remember whether it's always been that way (I forgot I even had one); in lieu of a better attempt I'll try disabling it. Everything else looks proper; my processor, graphics card, wireless, and the rest look to be recognized and drivers loaded just fine. (This is all testing in safe mode.) – user28385 Feb 16 '10 at 1:28

Try the following:

  1. Click Windows + R to get to "Run Command"
  2. Type msconfig
  3. From the list, select "Selective Startup" and uncheck "Load startup items"

    alt text

  4. Click OK and restart
  5. If situation solved, go over the list of applications loaded at startup to find the culprit (use a tool like Autoruns)
  6. If that didn't help, go into msconfig again, and start removing services until you find the one.
  7. If all that didn't work, you may have a hardware problem (HD or memory)
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Can you uninstall Tuesday's windows update & give it another shot? In order to diagnose the issue you need to bring your machine to last good known working state & start from there.

This means undoing any changes to your system since last known good working state.

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I would bet on either a rootkit/malware, or a bad hard drive

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