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Windows 7: Windows stuck at "Welcome" screen even after repair installs

15 Sep 2016   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit
Windows stuck at "Welcome" screen even after repair installs

I've been having problems with my Alienware X51 since about a month ago. The issues are as follows:
  • Windows sometimes gets stuck at the "Welcome" screen. Even when it doesn't, logging in often takes up to 15 seconds. Of note is that this has not happened in safe mode.
  • The computer would often freeze shortly after login. This only seemed to happen within the first few minutes; once the window has passed, the OS is stable until shutdown.
  • Some system tools (such as the Windows Performance Monitor) are unresponsive after launching.
  • Screen artifacts would appear in safe mode when I close certain applications.

Cleaning out the dust, reinstalling graphics drivers and reseating the RAM didn't make any difference. I then did a repair install, which solved everything except the first issue. All of this normally suggests a problem with a third-party driver. However, I've also seen a few other issues that suggest that there is a hardware problem as well:
  • The Dell ePSA tool often freezes during memory tests.
  • The BIOS complained once about being unable to find the hard drive, and Windows displayed a BSoD when it did finally start up. The Ultra DMA CRC error count in the S.M.A.R.T. data also increased. However, this was right after I took the PC apart for cleaning and did not occur again after I reseated the SATA cable.
  • Windows might have froze once after loading the files for safe mode. Granted, I was impatient at the time and didn't wait very long before rebooting the computer.

While I'm not ruling out a hard drive problem just yet, I suspect there may be an issue with the memory controller. From what I've heard, a faulty memory controller could result in the symptoms described above. Anyone know of a good way to determine whether this is the case?

For the sake of completeness, here is the full list of observations and things I've tried:
  • Cleaned out the dust and reseated the RAM.
  • Removed Nvidia graphics drivers using DDU and reinstalled them.
  • Upgraded Intel graphics drivers to latest version.
  • Upgraded the BIOS to latest version.
  • A repair install fixed all of the issues except for Windows getting stuck at "Welcome."
  • The issue never happens in safe mode, in which case logging in is actually really fast.
  • The Dell ePSA tool often freezes during memory tests.
  • OpenHardwareMonitor show no unusual voltages.
  • Ran CCleaner just in case some corrupt registry items were responsible - no difference.
  • Started repair reported no problems.
  • sfc /scannow reported no problems.
  • CHKDSK automatically ran a few times (after I forcefully turned off the computer) and repaired some corrupt attributed. However, this has not happened since I did a repair install.
  • S.M.A.R.T. tools show no hard drive problems besides the increased Ultra DMA CRC error count as mentioned above.
  • Memtest86 (the PassMark version) detected no memory errors.
  • Event Viewer shows nothing unusual.
  • HijackThis logs do not show any suspicious items.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and TDSSKiller all found nothing.
  • There is a known issue that causes a deadlock in Winlogon, but the hotfix was not applicable to my computer.
  • Removed a single rarely-used program (Jenkins) that I installed a few weeks before the issue started coming up - no difference.
  • Windows detected and repaired an issue with an Ethernet driver - no difference either.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2016   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Was there anything you did specifically both hardware or software-wise before the issue started occurring?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2016   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit

There were no hardware changes. The only software I had installed recently were Windows and Nvidia driver updates.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

15 Sep 2016   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Have you tried using the "Repair" option on your Windows installation DVD/USB (depending on how you "roll")?

Also, if it was working before have you tried using a system restore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2016   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit

Is that the same thing as the Startup Repair option? I've tried that, but it didn't find anything that needed fixing.

As for system restore, the oldest restore point was created in late August, which is after the issues started happening.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2016   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

I suggest you to check for startup programs and services.
After successful boot
Type 'msconfig' in run and check startup tab
Untick the programs you donot need at startup.
Then go to services tab and untick the services you donot need at startup.
It is recommended not to mess with Microsoft programs for now.
After you have made the changes, reboot to check whether the problem persist.

You may also check in 'regedit' in
If there is any thing you donot recognise or has a strange name/registry value please delete it.

If it does not solve the problem
open task manager and go to services tab and open services
check for the services which you donot require at startup and change them to manual or automatic(delayed) as per your requirement.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Sep 2016   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit

There is nothing under that registry key. I've also tried the clean boot troubleshooting method to no avail.

That said, I think I've found the cause of the problem: it appears it's related to the video card. One thing I noticed is that the transition from the "Starting Windows" splash screen (which is of lower resolution) to the login screen often takes a while. This suggests Windows has trouble switching to the GPU. After I disabled the card in the device manager, Windows has not gotten stuck again.

So I'm wondering: could my GeForce GTX 555 have a hardware issue? I did some searching but couldn't find too many recent reports of Nvidia drivers causing this problem.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Sep 2016   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Apologies to the admins for bumping this thread, but this is suspiciously similar (practically the same, honestly) to an issue I was having last month, and which I'm now having again. Hence why I just joined the forums to reply to this topic. I also have an Alienware X51, and last month, after installing Windows Updates KB3179573 (a roll-up update) and KB3177723 (the "Egypt DST" update) on August 16, my computer started hanging at the welcome screen on boot. I kept having to manually shut it down via the power button, as 9/10 times it would do the exact same thing upon restarting. I finally was able to boot into Safe Mode, and on a whim, uninstalled KB3179573. This, somehow, completely fixed the issue, and everything seemed fine after that.

Then, last Thursday, after about a week of not turning my PC on, I casually installed 12 more Windows Updates. 11 out of 12 installed successfully (one failed due to an "unknown error," which occasionally happens anyway), and I restarted as per usual. I got past the "Configuring Updates" bit, but then, once again, my computer decided to hang on the welcome screen (I waited about 15 minutes before manually rebooting, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't just being slow due to the new updates). And this time it was even worse. My first attempt to boot into Safe Mode failed and froze after the files were loaded (as the OP's may have), and there were weird green artifacts at the top of my screen (neither of which have ever happened before, just as the hanging at the welcome screen hasn't happened during the almost two years I've had the X51, until now).

My second attempt to boot into Safe Mode worked, and, sort of exasperated, I used AlienRespawn to revert back to a point in June. At this point, I have yet to actually try updating anything (the AlienRespawn completed successfully, but I've been taking a break from all things PC-related since then).

As far as drivers, I have a GTX 760 Ti (OEM), and while Nvidia's "Game Ready" drivers can be notoriously unstable (especially with older cards), I've never heard of them causing an issue like this. Likewise, after "solving" the KB3179573 problem, I installed Nvidia's 372.70 driver on August 30, without incident.

Edit: For the record, I also ran multiple virus scans and Startup Repair via my Windows 7 DVD when this first happened, none of which found anything.

How would I go about disabling my GPU? Does it only effect startup, or would I have to manually re-enable it before playing games?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Oct 2016   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit

You can disable your GPU by going to Device Manager > Graphics adapters. Just make sure you're in safe mode first.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows stuck at "Welcome" screen even after repair installs

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