Win XP Won't Load The Desktop (NO Icons, Taskbar)

  core25 16:20 20 Oct 2009

Hi there,

Any advice regarding this problem is greatly appreciated, the computer is a Dell Dimension 1100.

My problem is when turning on computer, the Dell splash screen comes up (with the BIOS loading bar, which alternates between being almost instant and taking a long time) followed by the Windows XP logo screen with the blue loading bar. After this I am left with a black screen with the mouse pointer (which is movable) none of the icons or taskbar load. I do not get the blue background 'Welcome' screen either.

I have tried (F8) booting into Safe Mode, Safe Mode with command prompt and Last known good configuration again resulting in the black screen with mouse pointer. When in this state (either normal boot or safe mode boot, pressing 'ctrl, alt, del' brings nothing up). At the Dell splash screen, I have tried (F12) BOOT DEVICE MENU and ran 'IDE Drive Diagnostics' which said everything is fine and also 'Boot To Utility Partition' in which I ran tests on; Processor, System Board, System Memory, Hard Drive and Video - all of which checked with no problems.

I tried booting from the Dell Windows XP Reinstallation CD and ran the 'Repair' option (NOT The Recovery Console) which re-installed Windows files successfully. However after re-booting I get the same black screen as before. I then ran the 'Recovery console' again to no avail.

I have tried to bring up the Dell Partition Restore tool by pressing Ctrl + F11 at the Dell splash screen, but nothing appears and goes onto the Windows XP loading screen then nothing. I have never formated the drive or messed with dual booting etc, so can't understand why the Dell System Restore tool doesn't seem to be there. I also remember when looking at the drive partitions in Windows, that there was a ghost partition at the front.

I don't know where to turn now, apart from booting from XP cd and formatting C: and performing a clean install. However there is important stuff on the drive that i would like to retrieve. Is there something very simple i have overlooked, are there any other tests at physical hardware level i can do, bearing in mind I have unplugged & reseated RAM modules and hard drive connections etc.

Many thanks to those who take the time to read and reply. I will check back regularly with updates.


  birdface 17:21 20 Oct 2009

Make sure it is booting from the correct drive in the Bios.And was the time running ok on it.

  T0SH 18:48 20 Oct 2009

Try downloading the iso and use it to make a bootable CD of the Paragon Rescue Kit 9, get the free version and use the boot corrector which hopefully will fix your issue but if not it also allows you to recover your data to an external drive

Cheers HC

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 19:22 20 Oct 2009

Repair XP by install over the top of existing system

1. Boot the computer using the XP CD. You may need to change the boot order in the system BIOS so the CD boots before the hard drive. Check your system documentation for steps to access the BIOS and change the boot order.

2. When you see the "Welcome To Setup" screen, you will see This portion of the Setup program prepares Microsoft Windows XP to run on your computer:

To setup Windows XP now, press ENTER.

To repair a Windows XP installation using Recovery Console, press R.

To quit Setup without installing Windows XP, press F3.

3. Press Enter to start the Windows Setup.

To setup Windows XP now and Repair Install , press ENTER.

DO NOT choose "To repair a Windows XP installation using the Recovery Console, press R", (you Do Not want to load Recovery Console).

4. Accept the License Agreement and Windows will search for existing Windows installations.

5. Select the XP installation you want to repair from the list and press R to start the repair.

6. Setup will copy the necessary files to the hard drive and reboot.

Do not press any key to boot from CD when the message appears.

Setup will continue as if it were doing a clean install, but your applications and settings will remain intact.

Repair XP
click here

  core25 14:01 21 Oct 2009

buteman > Yes, it's booting from the correct drive, as there is only 1 installed. The date and time shown on the BIOS page is correct.

TOSH > I have downloaded the free version of Paragon Rescue Kit 9 and will try when other options are exhausted

Fruit Bat > As I stated in my original post, I have already tried the XP repair option as you have explained. It does successfully re-install the windows files (on the blue background with yellow progress bar in the center). When it has finished copying files and reboots, I get the same black screen with movable cursor (but cursor is larger, so assume it's safe mode).

Thanks all for your input, anything else I can try.

  Nigel_R 15:37 21 Oct 2009


Interestingly I have the same issue on a Dell Latitude D810 laptop which seems to have failed at about the same time! on 20/10/09 at around 15:00 GMT (give or take about an hour!)

ran repair from XP CD - no improvement so
removed drive from laptop and added as slave on another PC
Ran AVG virus scan - nothing found
Loaded Registry hive and checked HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Run - Nothing unusual
same in other ususal locations (user and WindowsNT).
Currently checking hardware, but nothing found so far.
Not looking good!

  LondonLynne 13:41 22 Oct 2009

Same thing happening to my XP desk top today - while vista laptop required 'serious update'. Strange this should happen on the launch of Windows 7 ?

  LondonLynne 15:07 24 Oct 2009

No icons, no task bar – nothing.

How I resolved this 24th October 2009 – on Windows XP.

My desk top disappeared 22nd October 2009 just after lots of updates from Microsoft.

The main on-line suggestion was to get explorer.exe up and running through CTRL/ALT/DELETE - file – new task - then type the following C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe

I was not able to get any reaction with this. So I searched for explorer.exe and set it running as follows …
Task Manage
New Task
My Computer
Right click on explorer.exe and choose 'RUN AS'.
Mine already said run as ‘me’ but below this I could choose another person. The only choice offered was ‘me again’. I chose me, confirmed and instantly the desktop came back to normal.

  T0SH 15:51 24 Oct 2009

The first thing you need to do after opening task manager on the processes tab, is to end process on any running instances of explorer.exe next open the applications tab click on New Task and type in the box explorer.exe and click OK

If leave any instances of explorer.exe running then a windows explorer type window will open, so you will need to start over again

Cheers HC

  core25 15:56 25 Oct 2009

Hi there,

The problem is resolved now. I ended up having to wipe the Hard Drive and install a fresh copy of Windows XP. Before this, I used the free version (Express) of Paragon Rescue Kit 9 to copy the important files to a USB memory stick. I also tried using the Knoppix boot CD (latest version) which allowed me to see the Hard Drive, but not access it, as it gave me the error "unable to mount device."

Once again, thanks all for your help.

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