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My laptop has suddenly started to behave in a strange way.

First of all, this is its hardware configuration:

Dual Core CPU at 2.40 GHz; RAM 3 GB. Windows XP SP2.

Like I said, all of a sudden when I login to my Windows system, I find that the desktop is frozen and basically unusable.

Here are the symptoms: the taskbar and the system tray are completely frozen, I can't open the start menu, the icons on the tray don't load, and if I bring up the Ctrl+Alt+Del window (the only one that seems to work properly) its taskbar button is not shown.
The desktop itself is rather sluggish, I can't open the applications whose icon is linked on the desktop, and the only thing that I can manage to open is the file browser. From within, I can navigate quite normally, but as soon as I try to open any file, I always got the same problem, no other software seems to start. To be more precise, a simple text file can be open, but other ones that require more complex programs to open, not. In example, I can't get Xnview to open simple image files.
In all of this, the system load is fairly low: the processors are at 2-3%, and the memory usage is not higher than usual. So the problems are not related to resource overloading.

Also, the sounds are not played, I.E. when I navigate through the file manager, I can't hear the usual "click" sound.

I've already tried to terminate explorer.exe and restart it, but it doesn't seem to solve anything. I also tried to close a couple of Network services, both named svchost.exe, and the whole system seemed to be a little less sluggish, but I'm not sure about this.

This is all the information that I managed to gather for now. I hope that someone can help me solve this problem, if more information is required, just ask and I'll try to gather it.

Thank you in advance.

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Summarising: I use an OS without security updates and it acts weird. – Hennes Nov 5 '12 at 17:17
This doesn't sound like a hardware issue. Most hardware issues will cause a bluescreen. It sounds like you need to reinstall Windows. – xxl3ww Nov 5 '12 at 17:49
Sounds like typical XP malware – Moab Nov 5 '12 at 17:57
possible… – Moab Nov 5 '12 at 17:58

Although you say that resources aren't the problem, I would narrow down to be sure it's not hardware related.

A simple tool to check hardware is UBCD.

The main items to check are RAM and HDD (however you may as well do CPU).

Like @Hennes said, it could be some software issue (as you do run a no-longer supported OS).

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Let me know if anything is negative or positive, then we can narrow down from there. – nerdwaller Nov 5 '12 at 17:39
I have already solved, but thanks for having suggested that tool. I usually use Partition Magic for those purposes, but this one seems a more complete tool. I'll give it a try. – Sekhemty Nov 5 '12 at 18:54
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Thank you everybody for your suggestions, I managed to solve the problem by restoring one of the older system "Restore Points". Maybe there was some corruption in some configuration files, but with this step everything seems back to normal.

Anyway, thank you again for your replies! :)

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We help today, you'll help tomorrow. It's the life:) – Searush Nov 5 '12 at 19:27

Many times people tell the same, and when they show me their notebook/laptop/netbook, I see that in the battery's energy plan the Maximal Processor State is set to 10% for energy saving, which means processor can't get more than 10% of it's real power.
So, please set High Performance or set Maximal Processor State = 100% before trying something else.

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