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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Browsers except IE stopped working

    My son has a Dell Studio 15 laptop running Vista SP2. He is connected to our home network with a static IP through ethernet, and uses the laptop at university via wifi. Until very recently he has had no issues at all in either location but for the last week has intermittently had programs simply lock up on start - when this happens the task manager shows a process in the process list (0.0% cpu) but no entry in the applications list.
    The event viewer showed a lot of "event 4321 from source netbt" errors so I changed the NetBios setting under the network properties and each session since then has not shown any of those. That hasn't fixed the lockup problems though.

    After much experimentation tonight I have found that Firefox and Chrome both start a process but simply fail to proceed any further, while IE runs perfectly OK. I have checked with the firewall on and off, and this makes no difference. There is nothing at all in any of the event logs. (One of the other programs which similarly locks up is iTunes, and when that freezes there is an error in the application log. But iTunes does not fail every time, unlike the browsers.)

    Any ideas what might be going on?

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  3. #2
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    Have you recently scanned for malware?

  4. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    This certainly does sound like a nasty working it's deeds. I would start with a full scan in Safe Mode of Malwarebytes Antimalware.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

  5. #4
    New Lounger
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    Sorry, I should have mentioned that the laptop has MSE running all the time and up to date, and we run a Malwarebytes scan at regular intervals. Nothing detected.

  6. #5
    New Lounger
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    Just to be on the safe side, I reinstalled Malwarebytes and tried to run a full scan "in safe mode". I thought that F12 on restart gave boot options including several types of safe mode but apparently it doesn't. I had to go into System configuration > Boot and check safe mode - which means that future boots are all in safe mode until I undo that change... when or how did that feature go away?
    I guess this is starting to stray off-topic, sorry.

  7. #6
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    F8 is usually the key that offers the boot mode options.

  8. #7
    New Lounger
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    OK a full malwarebytes scan in safe mode comes up with nothing.
    I booted the laptop diagnostics and ran all the tests: disk, memory, graphics; no problems reported.
    All software is up to date.
    A command prompt can ping any valid IP address or host in the www, and IE opens its home page and can browse the internet happy as larry. Windows Mail opens correctly and can send and receive messages. MSE can update its database over the net, Secunia PSI likewise.
    Firefox starts a process but never opens a window; there is a firefox.exe process in task manager with a small amount of memory and no cpu activity, and no running application.
    Chrome starts a process but never opens a window; there is a chrome.exe process in task manager with a small amount of memory and no cpu activity, and no running application.
    Microsoft Word gets as far as the splash screen then stops; there is a WINWORD.exe process in task manager with a small amount of memory and no cpu activity, and no running application.
    Etcetera. Some programs are fine, some simply stop before they get started.
    There is nothing at all in any of the event logs that matches these lockups.

    Any suggestions before we bite the bullet and do a complete reinstall?

  9. #8
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    Have you tried some other malware app? SuperAntispyware can be a good option, or even Emsisoft's emergency kit. The idea is just to try other options before doing something more serious.

    Also, I wouldn't go for a complete reinstall. I would go for a non destructive reinstall. It will keep all your programs and settings, while rebuilding the OS in full, so it may be worth a try.

  10. #9
    Star Lounger
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    Try temporarily turning off MSE and your firewall, and check the logs from those. It could be that some programs are being blocked from starting. From your description, it could be that Firefox.exe/Winword.exe etc. are starting OK, but when they want to link to another sub-program they are unable to do so - possibly waiting "forever" for a response.

    What about safe mode? If you start Firefox that way, all add-ons are disabled, so if there is a rogue one it will be neutralised. If the entire system is started in safe mode, what then?

    A more extreme option would be to download Process Monitor from Sysinternals and trace what happens when those applications start. You might be lucky enough to spot an error, bad registry key, etc.

  11. #10
    Bronze Lounger
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    I had this problem with Firefox a couple of days ago.

    I wasn't sure if it was linked to restoring to an earlier point to resolve another issue or whether it had already gone on the blink as MS warn that some programs may not be fully functional and may have to be reinstalled after the restore.

    I don't have it as my default browser and just use it when IE9 gets buggy with a couple of sites I use.

    Reinstalled FF twice, even going into the registry and deleting everything with Mozilla on it and then into the folder in Program Files (x86) and used its own uninstaller, but the reinstall was just frozen each time with none of the links working and even the busy froze on trying to access another website.

    I even tried copying a working "model" from my other laptop and using the install from within the Mozilla folder and while it booted up, still no go.

    The fix for me was to restore to the last automatic restore point which was just on 7 days old and it's been fine ever since.

    Wished I'd decided that route first off instead of the reinstall, as I don't have much hair left to start with

  12. #11
    New Lounger
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    Run a full scan using some good antivirus software and check what is the status.

  13. #12
    5 Star Lounger
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    You do have an image backup from before this happened don't you If you do then restore to Image from before problems started. You will only have to reinstall anything added after that date, which you could do one at a time incase something added was cause then you may find out what installed thing caused it.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

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