Loading / frozen network and wireless icons, Windows taskbar and desktop frozen, does not respond
I have a strange issue. I turned off the computer on Sep 3 evening, everything was working perfectly fine. On Sep 4 when I started it, and after the desktop loaded, I noticed that the wireless signal icon near the clock shows the round loading indicator.
I waited a little bit, hoping it will complete acquiring the network. However, the icon stayed that way with the loading indicator on. I moved the mouse cursor using the trackpad, but it didn't move immediately, only after about 10 seconds it started moving
smoothly. Then again, the mouse cursor would freeze for 5-10 seconds from time to time. I tried clicking the Start menu icon, but as soon as I hovered the mouse cursor over it, the cursor turned into a round loading indicator, and clicking on the Start icon
didn't open the menu. I tried launching applications that had shortcuts on the desktop -- none of them started. Right-clicking on the Taskbar to bring the menu to launch the Task Manager didn't work, the menu didn't come up. Pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch
the Task Manager didn't accomplish anything. I put the computer aside and waited. After about 10 minutes the Task Manager window showed up. After another 3 minutes, it loaded the list of processes. I switched to the Performance tab and noticed that the memory
usage is normal, around 1 GB (I have a total of 5 GB on my system). The CPU load was normal, around 10%, with one random CPU spike up to 100%. I could drag the Task Manager window around the screen smoothly.
I rebooted into the Safe Mode with Networking, and the system immediately connected to Wi-Fi and I could browse the web as usual. In Safe Mode I went to MS Config, and turned off all startup programs, clicked to hide all Microsoft services, and disabled
the rest of the services. Booted into normal mode -- and again, the wireless icon showed the progress/loading indicator, and the system seemed completely frozen, including the Taskbar and the Desktop, just as before. Thinking that it might be network related,
I rebooted into Safe Mode and disabled both the Ethernet and the Wireless adapters. Booted into Normal mode -- the same problem, the system is unusable, even though this time there was no wireless or wired network icon. I believe it is a software issue. While
it could be some virus, I rule that out as I normally don't download and install any applications. I haven't installed any software manually in the recent weeks, and the only auto-update in the past week or two is the Firefox update to version 6.
Unfortunately I cannot go to the last good configuration as my System Restore was disabled, so I don't have any restore points.
Have you encountered anything like that? Can it be some Windows Update component? A virus? Any help / any tips are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
My system is relatively fast:
Dell Studio 14z
RAM: 5 GB
GPU: GeForce 9400M 256MB
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), legitimate, came with the laptop
Mac OS X Snow Leopard
The system worked in this configuration for more than a year already, and I haven't performed any system-wide changes.
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I have a Dell Wireless N 1515 card, and as far as I know it does not have a dedicated service. Besides, I tried disabling absolutely all non-Microsoft services already, and unfortunately it didn't help.
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