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Solutions: Start menu a great place to start Windows troubleshooting

I have Windows Vista Home Premium. At startup, everything loads fine. However, a red X appears on the Network icon. It takes a minute and 38 seconds before it goes away. Meanwhile, everything is locked up. My ISP had me reset the router twice to no avail. They claim it's on my end. My router and modem show an Internet connection. I have tried just about everything I can think of including disabling everything on the Start menu, selective enabling on the Start menu, editing the registry, deleting unnecessary files and programs and defragging. A clue: It starts properly in Safe Mode.

You didn't say whether this was a wireless or cable connection. If it is wireless, try connecting with a cable. If the connection behaves normally, that narrows the possibilities. You also need to check what is running at startup — something unrelated could prevent the network drivers from getting proper CPU time to find and connect. Create a shortcut entry for C:\Windows\System32\taskmgr.exe in your Start Menu\Programs\Startup folder. This will run the Taskmgr upon booting into Windows. Click the CPU column heading to get the processes to sort from top down. This may offer a clue. Make sure your antivirus/malware software is up to date and that you are getting clean scans — the behavior you report could indicate a virus. Next try uninstalling and reinstalling your network/wireless adaptor from Device Manager, preferably with a new set of drivers. After all this, it may come down to a bad router. Resetting can fix some problems, but not all. If you're still stumped, have your ISP swap your router.

On my IBM laptop running Windows XP, there's always a window open after reboot. It started appearing after I installed a Sound Blaster update. How can I make the desktop be empty (no windows open) upon reboot? And how can I make folder(s) of my choice appear, like the Sound Blaster folder does?

This shouldn't be mysterious. Click Start, Run, type MSCONFIG and click OK. Click the Startup tab. Search for the process that opens the Sound Blaster folder and uncheck it. To have the folder of your choice open: Right-click the Start button and choose Explore All Users. Open the Programs folder, then the Startup folder. Right-click empty folder space and choose New, Shortcut. Enter the Folder name. If the name contains spaces, such as "Program Files," put it in quotes.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Start menu a great place to start Windows troubleshooting 08/02/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 2, 2009 4:30am]
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