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I have windows XP SP3 on this machine. All of a sudden, it has developed this problem:

  1. Most of the time, after the "windows is starting" logo, nothing comes up. Just a blank, blue screen. Even after waiting for long nothing changes.

  2. Occasionally, the press "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" to login prompt comes. And on entering the login/pass, again blank blue screen comes up.

The exact problem is similar to what is described here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/318027

I tried safe mode with networking, it starts and logs in fine. But then, following issues:

  1. I have norton anti-virus. But it doesn't load automatically in the safe mode (don't know if its supposed to). On starting manual full scan, it just hangs.

  2. I tried Method 3 in the link. (1 / 2 are not very applicable to me). Here, when I end the explorer.exe process, it does not automatically restart. However, the link does not say what to do in that case!

Any help would be appreciated. In particular:

  1. Is there a way I can find and resolve the issue with the antivirus scan

  2. Is the problem with explorer.exe? If so, how to solve it?

  3. Any other suggestions!


STATUS:

I tried various things as suggested in answers. So now status is:

1) In safe mode: Norton Antivirus (I have full version) hangs. Everything else appears to be fine in safe mode.

2) Installed free Avast anti-virus and did a full scan. No threats found.

3) In normal mode, I am basically not even getting to the login prompt. After the initial windows logo and progress bar, screen goes blank. This is after disabling all non-MS services and startup programs, and restoring to a date a long while before the problem started.

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what happens when you manually start explorer.exe after killing it ? –  Shakehar May 13 '11 at 14:47
    
It does restart (earlier i didn't know how to do it). –  tanon May 13 '11 at 15:40
    
Did you scan for rootkits? Maybe this one could help: technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897445 –  grs May 14 '11 at 15:08
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4 Answers

I would try this, which is similar to what MS recommended in the link but goes a little farther (and takes a bit longer):

go into msconfig (windows key + r then type msconfig)

go into both startup and services and uncheck everything not made by microsoft.

reboot

If it loads like normal, start adding stuff back in. If it fails to load after enabling a particular service, this should tell you what the problem is.

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Thanks. I tried this. Disabled all non-MS services and also all startup programs. Did not help :( –  tanon May 13 '11 at 15:39
    
That's bizarre if it will load in safe mode fine, but not in selective start up with all non-essentials disabled. That sounds more like malware or a driver conflict, but given that the issue has just recently developed the latter seems unlikely. –  Blomkvist May 13 '11 at 15:50
    
thanks for the comment... yes, I think so its a malware too...but I installed Avast free anti virus (as my noton is just hanging..) and did a full scan... no threat found... –  tanon May 13 '11 at 16:31
    
Unfortunately, a common trick amongst malware authors is to instruct a virus or bot to 'listen' for the installation of products like avast, and to take action to preserve or hide itself. –  Blomkvist May 13 '11 at 16:42
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when login in Safe Mode with Networking, start Command Prompt. Then kill the explorer.exe process. Hit Alt+Tab, go in the Command Prompt Window and type, well ... explorer.exe. This will restart the process. If you have System Restore enabled you could try to restore to good known setup. Check under Start Menu - Accessories - System Tools - System Restore. You definitely have issues with your antivirus. It is supposed to run in Safe Mode. Also - check Method 4 in your link, disable as many startup programs as possible and see what difference it makes. And lastly - unplug the network wire, disable the antivirus and reboot.

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Thanks. I did system restore to a date well before the last time it booted fine. Did not fix anything :( –  tanon May 13 '11 at 15:14
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Sometimes trying every idea in the internet is not worth time spend... Make offline backup, reinstall windows.

While reinstalling make complete offline scan of backuped HDD, then after installation recover backuped things.

I've had similar issue, spent 2 days or more and found nothing what could work :/

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After the blank screen, press Ctrl Alt Delete, then log off.

Once you get to the login screen, press OK. It started for me.

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