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Internet Explorer Troubleshooting


Windows isn't behaving properly (miscellaneous)


Symptom:

The notes on this page are not intended to address any specific problem, but the rather undefined problem of a Windows machine being either unstable (i.e. crashes or locks up) or being unwell - things just don't work like not shutting down for example.

Remedies:

This is a general checklist of things to check or things to do:

  1. Check the amount of free space on the C drive. It should be (as a guide) at least 10% of the total size of the disk.
  2. Check you have up to date anti-virus. If you don't have an up to date anti-virus product then take a look at www.cryer.co.uk/resources/antivirus.htm, which lists a number of anti-virus products which are free for home/personal use.
  3. Do a complete anti-virus scan of your pc.
  4. Try a spyware removal program, these also remove Trojans and other nuisance programs. I would recommend either spybot from www.safer-networking.org or ad-aware from www.lavasoft.de, both of which are free for personal (non-commercial) use. Let it run and do a complete scan. Trojans/worms etc can cause a variety of problems on PCs.
  5. Open a command window and type:
    chkdsk c: /r

    This command initiates a check (and repair) of the disk, including a check for bad sectors. If you are using Windows NT, 2000 or XP then this will offer to run the next time you reboot your computer - accept this option, reboot and let it run. After it has finished and Windows starts, you will need to look in the application event log to see the output from chkdsk.

  6. Empty out any temporary directories. For example open a command window and type:
    echo %TEMP%

    then using windows explorer find that folder and delete everything in it. You may find that there are a few files in it that you cannot delete because an application (or Windows itself) has these files open. This doesn't matter, but do delete all the files that Windows will let you delete.

  7. Delete any temporary internet files - do this by running up Internet Explorer, Tools > Internet Options and click on "Delete Files..."
  8. Re-apply the latest service pack for your version of windows. Windows update is not sufficient. Download the latest service pack and run it. Do this even if you are already running with the latest service pack. This should resolve a number of issues with corrupt or inconsistent DLLs.
  9. If you are having problems related to your browser (either internet explorer or windows explorer) then download and run the latest service pack for internet explorer. (You can also try repairing internet explorer - this option is available to you if you try to uninstall internet explorer.)
  10. If you are running Windows 7, Vista, XP, W2K or NT then it is worth having a quick look in the Application and System Event logs. For XP and W2K these are accessible under "Administrative Tools" in the control panel. Most systems contain some errors, and not all errors recorded here are anything to worry about.
  11. Run Device Manager. (For Windows XP and W2K this is accessible under "Control Panel" > "Administrative Tools" > "Computer Management". It is also available by right clicking "my computer" in the explorer view, selecting "properties" and then going to the "hardware" tab.) Do any of the components listed have an exclamation mark next to them? This indicates that a device isn't working correctly. The tree view should be automatically expanded if there are any devices not working, so its north worth hunting through the tree manually looking at each device individually.

See also "Recommended routine maintenance for Windows NT, 2000 and XP".

If you have any general suggestions to add to this list then please e-mail me: brian@cryer.co.uk.


These notes have been tested with Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows ME.



About the author: is a dedicated software developer and webmaster. For his day job he develops websites and desktop applications as well as providing IT services. He moonlights as a technical author and consultant.