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I have a workstation with an impressively strange problem. If you boot the computer, it will load up to the "select user account screen" and then freeze completely before I can select a user account. No mouse, keyboard, anything working.

However, if you then reboot the computer into safe mode, do NOTHING, and then reboot into regular mode, it loads fine.

The next time you reboot the computer, it will freeze a the login screen again.

So basically to log in normally I must reboot into safe mode first every time, even though I'm not even doing anything in safe mode (I don't even need to log into a profile).

Anybody ever seen anything like this?

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migrated from serverfault.com Jul 1 '10 at 20:00

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When you say it freezes at the login screen...is it hard locking? Is the mouse cursor there but unable to move? Could you move the mouse a little before it freezes? –  flashkube May 21 '09 at 2:56
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5 Answers 5

I've seen quite a few Windows login issues that were virus/spyware related, but that wouldn't appear to be the case here. Just to be on the safe side though, it probably wouldn't hurt to run a scan.

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checked with NOD32, Malwarebytes, and Super antispyware, clean as a whistle. Thanks for the thought though –  Happy Hamster May 20 '09 at 22:12
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I think the problem is likely with some service.

Maybe there is a service that isn't getting shutdown properly when you do a normal shutdown, but gets shutdown properly from safe mode.

Start disabling services from starting one by one from safe mode. You should choose 3rd party or secondary services first.

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will try and let you know.. –  Happy Hamster May 21 '09 at 3:54
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It seems like the safe mode is either clearing out, or resetting something to allow windows to boot normally.

Have you taken a look at the system processes that load on startup using msconfig.exe and disabling everything you humanly can (one at a time)?

There could also be a corrupt driver that needs re-installing? It may get over ridden with a generic one on booting into safe mode, and then goes in the first time to normal windows, and when you reboot, it has detected a new driver and that one won't work.. low possibility but I have seen it before.

Good luck!

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I have tried disabling everything in MS Config, no go, same problem :( –  Happy Hamster May 21 '09 at 3:54
    
Check your device manager to see if any of the devices have a red exclamation mark on them indicating they are not functioning, or the driver might need reinstalling. At this point I would re-install each driver through the Device manager manually one by one until it worked. Another possibility is to do an in-place re-installation of windows where it won't overwrite your applications or data, and only re-install the core windows files themselves. You would then have to patch everything up again. See if disabling your anti-virus/firewall helps too, sometimes they get stuck. Good luck! –  Jas Panesar May 21 '09 at 22:59
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Seen this before, but was not able to nail it down to something. I often surrendered to a reinstall.

One thing tho that I learned to do before reinstalling a system out of despair is an exhaustive memory check. Get something like an ubuntu boot disk, let run the memcheck overnight. I've seen memory defects account for the most strangest sympthoms.

Nothing worse than reinstalling a complete system, only to notice the problem is there again after a week, and could have been fixed with 50 bucks of new ram in the first place.

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Sounds like malware and/or a rootkit has taken over the login screen. Try running some of these tools.

http://serverfault.com/questions/6149/a-list-of-windows-rootkit-detection-and-removal-tools

Note also that MS Config doesn't is not comprehensive. See the video by Mark Rusinovich that someone posted in the answers to the link I've given.

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You are very right sir, msconfig is not comprehensive. It will only show major items that are made to be easily visible. –  Jas Panesar May 21 '09 at 23:00
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