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Every morning when I log in to my computer windows loads to a blank screen, the cursor is there but nothing else no taskbar, no icons, nothing. If I press Ctrl+Alt+Del and choose to restart the computer, it starts up and works normally.

I have run loads of anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware, and have found no infections, has anybody ever seen this or perhaps have a cause/solution?

Windows XP Pro service pack 2

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What service pack for XP do you have installed? – Kez Aug 25 '09 at 12:33
To know about the cause, you could eventually check the event logs ( ), maybe something interesting is in it. – Gnoupi Aug 25 '09 at 12:56
There are no errors in the event logs. – Tester101 Aug 25 '09 at 13:16
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Check your RAM. I suggest using something like MemTest86. I ran into a very similar problem where applications would no longer respond to input and getting a black screen. After hitting ctrl-alt-del and starting the task manager, I'd get a black screen but keyboard and mouse would still respond (mouse cursor moved, caps lock light on keyboard would toggle). I booted up memtest86 and determined one of my sticks of RAM was bad. I've been running for a number of hours now with no problems after removing it.

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I can't say for sure, but I would go in to safe mode and use Autoruns to make sure that there are no programs trying to creep in that shouldn't be there or ones that are services (or similar) that the machine is waiting for but failing on.

Also, next time you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, you may want to click task manager instead of restart and try to launch explorer.exe

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how does everyone do the keyboard pictures? are they actually inserting pictures or is their a shortcut? – Mike M Aug 25 '09 at 12:38
type in <kbd> and close with </kbd> – Shoban Aug 25 '09 at 12:43

Make sure explorer.exe is in your startup programs list. Also try disabling unwanted programs in the same startup list. Sometimes certain programs can mess with explorer.exe starting up properly.

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It sounds like explorer is failing to start. When you boot up, and nothing loads try hitting ctrl+alt+delete and then under the application tab click "New Task" and enter explorer.exe

If that results in the normal looking desktop, I would suggest booting with the original XP installation CD inserted and running the repair wizard.

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IS there a way to find out why explorer is failing to start? – Tester101 Aug 25 '09 at 12:52
Look in the event viewer, however my guess is that it is waiting for a service or device to start up first. – William Hilsum Aug 25 '09 at 13:05
I am not sure why explorer would be failing to start, but as I mentioned above, typically the repair utility on the XP install disc will fix the issue – Mike M Aug 25 '09 at 13:13

Also, make sure CD drives are empty and there are no USB drives connected. I know this sounds basic, but it's caused me panic before.

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I guess the first step should be to get service pack 3 on then make sure you're up to date with all other updates. I found service pack 3 seemed to sort a number of odd little issues on the 100+ pcs I've installed it on.

As an alternative you could log on as a different user move your user profile folder out of documents and settings and then log in as yourself so that it gets recreated then move back your my docs, desktop etc but not the user profile folder itself.

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I encountered a similar problem after a virus cleanup: I could login, but the screen was blank, only showing the desktop wallpaper. Explorer and task manager did not work.

I had to use Hiren's Ultimate Boot CD, and the "Registry Restore Wizard" to bring the registry back to a previous restore point.

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