My big, beautiful, expensive custom-built PC is limping again, unfortunately. It now freezes the taskbar and most system activities at least every time I am running it, requiring a reboot. It is running XP Pro, SP2. Box has a 2.2 AMD Athlon processor on an Asus mobo, 4GB RAM.
- It appears that explorer.exe is what freezes things, but that's just a guess at this point.
- Most or all activities that that involve explorer.exe definitely result in a required reboot.
- Task Manager cannot be opened.
- All taskbar/systray buttons are frozen with no tool tips. The clock is stuck at the time it froze.
- Any programs that are running are usable - if I can access them. Alt+Tab doesn't work. Taskbar doesn't work. If programs are minimized I cannot restore them.
- Opening LaunchBar Commander with a keyboard shortcut works but starting any program with it gets a short hourglass and then nothing. Same if DOpus is open - I can double-click exe files but no programs can start or close.
Triggers for this behavior that I know about so far:
- Running any installer - if I install an update to a program - any program - when I'm done the taskbar and system tray cannot be clicked anymore.
- Opening and using some Windows utilities. E.g., it has frozen twice when I was configuring Windows Updates in the General Policy Editor using Computer Management.
Other times it has frozen before I noticed it, and I can't determine or remember exactly what I was doing when it occurred - remember, the program I am in continues to run fine so I might not notice the problem until I try to click on a taskbar button or systray icon.
This all started while I was installing Nuance PDF Converter Pro 6. PDF Converter Pro 5 was already installed; I purchased V.6 via a Nuance promotion. Since Nuance uses an activation scheme and checks for a previous version installed on the computer, I left V.5 installed. Documentation says to do this and that the installer will remove the previous version after it checks it. The installation never quite finished. It froze up the taskbar and systray during installation. Arrgghh. That was the first time it occurred. First, the Nuance installer installed MS Visual C++ Redistributable package, even though it was already installed via a recent MS Auto Update. Then it froze the taskbar et al. removed whatever parts of PDF Converter Pro 6 that were installed via Add/Remove and also used System Restore to restore the point I set immediately prior to starting the installation. All OK again except now the taskbar and systray keeps freezing as described above.
The next day I uninstalled PDF Converter Pro 5 using Revo Uninstaller and then tried to install V.6 again after a reboot. This time I selected Custom Installation and deselected the MS Office components - I saw that as a suggestion on the MS Technet forums to another user and it worked for them. V.6 installed OK this time, though the installer froze everything again requiring a forced (power switch) reboot. However the program was installed and working. Yay! Nope - Too soon.
The taskbar freeze-ups started again almost immediately, and continued quite often. After several days of trouble=shooting I used System Restore and restored to the point before the initial PDF Pro V.6 again. But this time it did not restore PDF Pro 5. It also left behind a number of files from PDF Pro 6.
Oh - and yes - the taskbar and systray freezing is still here. :( :mad:
BTW, nothing - and I mean nothing at all - appears in the Event Log about any of this. I am guessing that's because the Event Log probably freezes up at the same time everything else does. I cannot find ANY reference at all anywhere on my machine that gives any hints or clues as to exactly what is messing up. A missing DLL? Driver? What could PDF Converter Pro 6's installer have messed with to cause this? I am running Process Monitor now to see if it can catch anything when it next freezes, though I might have to examine a kazillion line items and still not get a clue from them.
I would normally have just given up and reinstalled Windows but I refuse to do that now and then again in three weeks when Windows 7 is released. I am contemplating going beck to another Restore Point, maybe a few days before any of this started, though I am certain that will screw up other installations and or updates. Or I could try mounting an Acronis image - I have two of my C:\ drive that pre-date the PDF Converter Pro 6 initial installation. Though I haven't tried to restore an Acronis image - ever.