Programs "Not responding" domino effect - all apps die one by one!


Paul Speller


I have a self-built computer, using:

- an Asus P5B motherboard
- an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor
- OCZ 2x1GB DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 RAM
- XFX 8800GTS XT Edition 640MB GDDR3 530MHz graphics card
- Dell WFP3007 monitor @ 2560x1600
- Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (come on, it was hardly going to be Home
Basic on that monitor was it? ;) )

Anyway, all was well for about nine months, from when I installed Vista last
summer, until recently. (I thought the problem I'm describing started at
around the time I put Service Pack 1 on the machine, but I tried uninstalling
SP1 and it persisted, so I've put SP1 back on now, and of course it still

My usage pattern with my PC is:

- Wake the PC from Sleep when I get up in the morning
- Put to Sleep when I leave for work in the morning
- Wake from sleep when I get home in the evening
- Set to go automatically to sleep when a backup (onto an HP Windows Home
Server) is finished in the early hours of the morning
- Repeat these steps every day, ideally for a month until the next Windows
Update patch requires a reboot!

That pretty much worked OK before, although I tended to have to reboot Vista
after maybe a fortnight rather than a month when things started getting a bit
tired and playing up. (In XP Pro I used to be able to go the full month
almost without exception.)

Recently, though, I've found that after about three to five days of
following my routine, a short time (1-15 minutes) after I resume the PC from
Sleep (either in the morning or the evening), I'll go to do something in one
of the running programs and for a few seconds it will look like it's going to
do it, but then it will stop responding and the title bar of that program
will change to say Not Responding. Whether or not I kill that program, the
symptom spreads across all my other running programs too - one by one,
they'll all stop responding in the same way. Note that they don't all stop
responding at the same moment - when one dies I can switch to another and it
will intially respond but then stop responding after a few seconds' use.

The "Not Responding" domino effect continues across all the programs,
including things like Sidebar and Explorer, until I am left with no option
but to hit the hardware Reset button on the PC to restart it.

Since I got wise to the symptoms I have tried to kill all the apps and get
the PC to reboot as soon as the symptoms start, but the rebooting process
freezes at a blank desktop (or at "Logging off") after a while and again I
have to reach for the Reset button.

Can anyone suggest what on earth could be causing these bizarre symptoms? I
have Avast! anti-virus resident, and keep Windows Defender enabled at all
times, and am pretty careful anyway, so I don't think it's a virus, but I
could be wrong. It's a very weird virus if it is one, since it doesn't appear
to be doing anything harmful apart from making all my apps fall over on top
of each other after a few days' use!

Has anyone else seen this happen? Any ideas what I can do about it?

Oh, the apps I tend to have running at the time when this happens (i.e. the
apps I have running nearly all the time) include:

- Internet Explorer (with IE7Pro add-on)
- Opera web browser
- DigiGuide (UK TV guide software)
- Agent news/e-mail software
- Sidebar
- Task Manager
- Explorer

They all die one by one if you don't close them quickly when the first one's
stopped responding! I did have a Windows DreamScene (video) desktop but I
turned that off when this first started happening in case it was
contributing, but it's carried on anyway so perhaps I should bring it back!

Other troubleshooting things I have tried include changing my routine from
using Sleep to using Hibernate when I turn off, and avoiding plugging in my
Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone and WM5 PDA in case they were triggering it, as
well as the earlier-mentioned uninstalling of Vista SP1. None of these
actions has made any difference - the problem has continued to occur every
few days.

There's also nothing of any apparent relevance being logged in any of the
logs under Event Viewer. The logged items closest to the times when "Not
Responding" starts happening tend to be 'normal' activity happening quite
some time beforehand, or just straightforward log items related to resuming
from standby. It's such a complete mystery!

If you need any more information to be able to help, just let me know. I'd
love to get to the bottom of this as it's really frustrating turning on the
computer to do something but losing what you were doing and having to reset
it and start again instead!

Thanks very much,



Steve Thackery

You know, this sounds like a subtle hardware problem. I wonder if something
might be overheating, or one of the power lines is sagging.

Not much help, I know - but it might suggest a new area to explore.


Paul Speller

Thanks for the ideas. I've been monitoring it and I don't think anything's
overheating, and my voltages seem pretty constant, but it just happened again
when I awoke my computer after I got home from work this evening :(

(Sorry for the delayed reply by the way - had a busy couple of weeks!)

If anyone has any other ideas please let me know! Thanks,




Paul Speller

the wharf rat said:
Is your disk drive spinning back up from sleep?

I think so - certainly everything works fine to start with after sleep,
which would suggest so. Only after a few minutes' use following a
resume-from-sleep does the problem occur. It's just happened this evening.

Thanks for the suggestion though!

Does anyone have any other ideas? I'd love to hear them if so. This has
really got me stumped :(


Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question