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Author Topic: advice needed: weird lockup/freeze (process/dll/disk/cache?? issue in explorer)  (Read 5764 times)

iphigenie

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I think I am pretty clever with my pcs and I think I have had almost every stupid thing you can have with making windows disfunctional, but this one has me stumped

Lately on my laptop, I am having the main explorer functions (desktop, start menu, status bar etc) just freeze.
As far as the rest of the system is concerned, everything is fine (cpu, performance etc.) except i cannot use anything like the start menu or status bar, but everything else continues to work.

The trigger is always either
- right clicking on desktop icons
- right clicking on an entry in start menu
- (happened for the first time now) selecting and pressing delete over 2 shortcuts on the desktop
but only after the machine has been running quite a while

Now the basic task monitor shows nothing hung up, no undue cpu or memory usage, and all clear.... I cannot use explorer or file managers which were open at the point the trigger happened, but new file managers would work fine... I cannot kill explorer or file managers either.

In the end I cannot properly shut down windows, so I have to do a hard restart.

Looking in the windows task manager everything seems pretty normal except there are a lot of page faults in some places which means a lot of swapping - I suspect it happens when I havent used these parts of the interface for a while and things have been swapped to disk. And they dont come back fast enough... But thats just a wild guess

But how do I figure this out - I am going to dust up wintasks pro see if it helps see something I cant see right now, but what other tools can i use to help me puzzle this out - any better analysis tools? any of the "process juggling" tools (like process tamer) would help? if it turns out to be swapping the problem, is there anything that can be done to protect some things from being swapped out?

Tired of restarting my machine the hard way ;)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2008, 02:28:48 AM by iphigenie »

f0dder

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Page faults doesn't necessarily mean swapping/paging, they can happen for other reasons as well (like accessing memory-mapped files).

Do you have any custom shell extensions installed? That'd be my first hunch, considering your symptoms. Can be pretty hard to track down problems with those critters, too.
- carpe noctem

iphigenie

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Using process monitor to creat a log, but boy is there a lot of stuff in there, and lots of errors, and I am not sure which are "normal" and which are worrying

I am at the moment suspecting the following:
* either of the qt bars
* stardocks' resident dll

I'll remove them and see. I have no issues with these on the other machines, but they are the things I can think of having possibly changed in January prior to the problem starting to happen...

Whenever the lock happens open applications remain responsive (cpu low) but there is typically a lot of disk activity which has nothing to do with applications as far as I can tell (thats why i suspected swapping might have something to do with it)

I'm going to run processmonitor on my other machine which has at least some of the same software and no problems, and see if I spot any differences. It's amazing how much stuff goes on in there - constant scoping through the registry, for one...

iphigenie

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This is still happening but less

I have uninstalled both stardock's windows blind and the qt add ons (i wondered about the qt add ons because i installed them recently and the history mentions quite a few "right click" related fixes so it was at least possible)

As I type this I have a fully responsive windows xp, including task bar etc. EXCEPT that I have an open folder windows which is frozen, as I made the mistake to right click on a file to delete it. There was a bunch of disk activity but no context menu appeared.

I won't be able to open another file manager window now, but all applications still work, i can go on and start something else, or finish my work. I also i can still open total commander - until i right click on something in there and it locks up as well - and in most cases any application where i do something that would open a file open/save dialog will also be locked up.

It has to either be disk related or an explorer add on

I'm leaving process log running in hope i can spot something, but that logs sooo much how could i ever spot anything.

using hijack this or other analysers I just dont see anything in what is configured, and if l look at processes I see nothing that rings alarm bells.

Any idea how I can trace this, what to look/filter for in process log, for example?

iphigenie

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what makes this annoying is that the frozen apps/windows just cannot be killed with anything i have tried

Lashiec

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This screams "shell extension". I don't know if Process Monitor also catches the names of the shell extensions, but you can try that. My advice is to disable them one by one, and see if the symptoms are already there. Disable first those that could be suspicious, that is, those ones that do something more than providing the usual menu in the shell (like you did with QT and Stardock). I hope it can be of some help.

To kill the frozen apps, try something "heavy", like antirootkits. Or maybe Unlocker.

mouser

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because it's happening on right click mostly it does sound like it might be an ill-behaving context menu extension.

you might try nirsoft's context menu extension manager and disable everything that looks in the slightest bit fishy:
http://www.nirsoft.n...shell_menu_view.html




Carol Haynes

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Use ShellEXView to disable every shell extension that wasn't included with Windows and then see if the problem persists.

You can re-enable shell stuff again bit by bit to track down the one causing issues - but sometimes they can be problems with interactions between shell extensions and they are a real begger to track down.

I had a siuation a couple of years ago where simply the presence of one shell extension stopped another one functioning properly - everything was fine if either extension was disabled but the two together ...

iphigenie

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oh, cool, thats way easier than removing them all  :Thmbsup:

Darwin

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I experience this occasionally as well, iphigenie so would be interested in reading about the results of your investigation!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

iphigenie

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I disabled all context menu extensions - if i dont experience the issue by Monday then i will re-enable some and so on.

These nirsoft tools are good! Interestingly, there were some things left behind in these extensions that none of my tools had shown - although I had uninstalled regrun in November so possibly this would have shown it.


iphigenie

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I havent had the freeze for a while now so disabling extensions has done the trick

I disabled

* the stardock extensions for a few tools that seemed to still be on, keyboard launchpad, right click, and windows blinds
* extensions from qt tab bar (mostly cause i added it about when the problems started and reading the history there are many right click related bugs, none like mine but still)
* extensions linked to farstone virtual drive/gamedrive
* securom context menu
* fuji camera extensions
* sony phone extensions
* skype add on extensions
* zoner extensions (reenabled since)
* Copernic search handler
* stuff i dont think i use like microsoft office infopath, intel graphics context menu, search for people, hyperterminal, ms web folders

I am going to start reenabling some of them bit by bit to see if i can figure out which it was. one of the top 2 I still think!