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Windows 7: Desktop Flickers

11 Sep 2010   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
A PC with the hiccups?

Hey Folks,

I've got a weird one. It's on a Windows 7 Pro 64bit machine. I have never seen 7 do this before. The taskbar and desktop icons flash once every 30 seconds or so. The wallpaper and any open programs seem to stay put. If I click on anything, say Start for example, when the flash happens, it closes the Start menu. So, I have to get my clicks and typing in between the flickers.

It's almost as if explorer.exe is crashing and immediately restarting itself every 30 seconds.

I tried running system restore but got the error:
System Restore does not appear to be functioning correctly on this system. A Volume Shadow Copy Service component encountered an unexpected error. Check the application event log for more info. (0x80042302)

I tried Event Viewer and got the error:
Event Log service is unavailable. Verify that the service is running.

It is also stuck on the Windows Classic theme. The Windows 7 basic and Aero themes are greyed out in the personalization window.

This behavior happens on all but one user account.

For the other user account, no flashes but it is also stuck on the Windows Classic theme. So, using the other account I am able to at least do some troubleshooting without being interrupted by the suspected explorer crashes but I cannot get it to change themes.

I also started up in safe mode. I logged in to the user accounts with the suspected explorer crashes and no more crashes.

I have run a complete virus scan using an updated Microsoft Security Essentials.

Device manager shows no splats.

I created a new user account and it also flickers.

Any other ideas?


PS - The system in my profile is NOT the one having the issue. If you need the specs of the broken system, I can list them.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Sep 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install

I would go to device manager and update the video driver. If needed it will not just show with a yellow marker, you have to investigate. Update from the website, not automatic update.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2010   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Thanks Richard,
I will give that a shot. I must also correct myself from my original post.

Only 1 of the user accounts shows the crashing explorer behavior. The rest are fine. They are just stuck in the Classic mode.

Confirmed that it is indeed explorer.exe crashing. I watched the Task Manager window for a good 20 minutes. When the flickers happen, explorer.exe dissappears from the list and almost imdeidatly reappears. When this happens, system idle process goes from 99% to around 70%, explorer.exe disapears, comes back at around 30%, and then system idle goes back to 99% and explorer to 0%. This all happens in the blink of an eye. So, on one user account explorer.exe is dying and coming back every 30 seconds or so.

Also, in safe mode, I get the same exact thing as I get in normal mode. Explorer.exe, flickering, the whole works on that one account. The rest of the accounts are fine in safe mode.

I will update the video driver and report back.

Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

12 Sep 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install

Im a set of fresh eyes, you are too involved. One account; then I say open a new account. If it does not flicker, the account is defective and causing the crashes. You can delete it.

Maybe, its not the crashes causing the flicker, but the flicker causing the crashes.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2010   #5

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Thanks again for the help. I tried the driver update for the video and it wouldn't install. Gave an error about elevated permissions even though the account was an administrator. Tried right clicking it and running as administrator, too.

Did some more digging in the system and finally got into the event viewer. Going back about 4 days ago it seems like something in the system is stopping, or trying to stop, ALL running services. Even though the virus scan showed no threats, I am leaning toward a virus or something malicious. I'm going to back up some photos and do a format/reinstall of windows. I'll keep you posted.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install

If worried about a virus, be sure to format.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2010   #7

Windows 7 Professional 64bit

Did a format on the hard drive and reinstalled Windows 7. Everything is running great. Even some of the hardware problems I failed to mention have been cleared up. So, I don't know if the OS was just totally shot or if it was some kind of malicious software, virus, whatever. Everything seems to be great now, though. Thanks again for all the help!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Sep 2010   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install

Sounds like you did it just right, glad that it worked out.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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