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Windows 7: Strange, intermittent problem - programs won't start

21 May 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
Strange, intermittent problem - programs won't start

This is a weird one. As I mention in the subject line, it's an intermittent issue, so it might be hard to know if it's fixed.

Occasionally when I boot up, Windows 7 only lets me open one program. In more detail, what happens is:
  • I turn my computer on.
  • I get to the desktop and everything appears to be normal.
  • The first application I try to open - typically either Word, Firefox or Thunderbird, but it doesn't seem to actually matter what it is - works fine.
  • Anything else I try to open after that, I briefly get the little circle on my cursor, and if there's a button for it pinned to my taskbar it glows momentarily, then nothing happens - the program never opens.
If I open the Task Manager, I see the program listed there, taking up a minimal amount of memory (<100k) and 0% of my CPU cycles, but nothing happens if I try to switch to it or anything like that.

To date, rebooting has always fixed the problem, but I'm worried that someday it won't and in any event, it shouldn't be happening in the first place. I'd say it happens about 40% of the time, and has gotten neither better nor worse since I first noticed the problem about two weeks ago.

The first thing I did when the issue first occurred was scan for malware with both Avira and MBAM (once I had rebooted, that is - initially I couldn't launch either of them, because the problem affected them too); both programs gave me a clean bill of health. I have not tried any other troubleshooting steps because I have no idea what to try.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 May 2011   #2
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

I would start with a basic. System File Checker. sfc /scannow. If it reports or fixes a problem, run it two more times. It can't hurt but may help. Have you been using any registry or tune up tools??
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 May 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

"Did not find any integrity violations."

Any other suggestions? I haven't been able to find this exact issue anywhere, though I've found a few that resemble it in some respects...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

22 May 2011   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

I have not been using any registry or tune-up tools. Was that a suggestion that I should start, or that they might be the problem?

Also, I know there's a way to see a list of programs I've installed recently, but I don't recall what it is. I'm wondering what I could have installed recently that might conceivably explain this issue. How can I see that list?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Mar 2012   #5

Windows 7 Enterprise x64
Same problem


We have been experiencing this exact problem. We currently have 4 users all running Windows 7 Enterprise x64 with the same issue. I have tried re-imaging the computers and swapping out computers, the same users still experience the problem. We have over 30 users who all use a standard image, but only these 4 users have the issue.

I cannot find any reason for it, has anyone managed to solve this?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Strange, intermittent problem - programs won't start

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