My laptop's touchpad is unresponsive and I'm in arrow-key hell!
March 11, 2010 7:50 AM   Subscribe

This morning when I opened up my laptop, the cursor/arrow was frozen in the middle of the screen and neither the usb mouse or the touchpad could move it.

Background: This is a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop bought in February of 2009 (no we didn't get the extended warranty, aren't we lucky). It's running Windows Vista Home Premium. The system identifies the touchpad as an Alps Electric Touchpad (or maybe that's just who supplied the driver). Last night, all was well. This morning, when I opened it up, neither the mouse or the touchpad could do anything. In the device manager window for the touchpad it says this device could not start (code 10).

What we've tried so far: Restarting didn't change anything. Restarting in Safe Mode didn't reveal anything (though I'm not really sure what to do while in Safe Mode so...).

Reinstalling the device driver (for the touchpad) didn't do anything. I've been trying to reinstall the driver from the original install disk but the interface in Windows Vista doesn't want to cooperate.

I tried just disabling the touchpad altogether to see if I could just use the USB mouse. Nope.

I went into system restore and noted that there had been a Windows Update at 3am this morning. I then restored the system to the point just before the update. That didn't help. I went back even further to another restore point. That didn't help.

I've searched around and seen a number of discussions about error code 10 and faulty touchpads but have not found any actual solutions. So now it's your turn, hivemind. What else can I do?
posted by wabbittwax to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Just for due diligence how about a shutdown, remove the laptop battery for a minute or two, and restart?
posted by XMLicious at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2010

Just tried that. Nothing changed.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2010

So you also have an external USB mouse? Do you have another computer you could plug the mouse into, to see if it works with a different computer?
posted by XMLicious at 8:33 AM on March 11, 2010

The mouse works perfectly in another computer. I also tried a different mouse in the gimpy computer.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2010

Hmmm. Well, Googling suggests that code 10 might be a generic USB error. Do other non-mouse USB devices work?

One thing I came across suggested re-installing drivers for the built-in USB hub itself, but I don't see how that could have gotten messed up. (Of course, who knows with Windows automatic updates, though...)
posted by XMLicious at 9:00 AM on March 11, 2010

have you tried plugging in a usb keyboard?

can you make a ubuntu install disk? make one and boot from it (you don't have to install to the harddrive), if the external mouse still doesn't work you have a hardware problem, maybe bad internal usb hub?...
posted by at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2010

I saw a slightly different problem recently (neither touchpad nor keyboard was working) and tried the kind of suggestions already on this thread. Ultimately the solution was to start in safe mode, go to the Device Manager, delete the touchpad and keyboard, and have them auto-install themselves again after bootup. After two tries, everything was working again.
posted by beyond_pink at 9:29 AM on March 11, 2010

This may be dumb, but I had a similar problem with my Acer netbook last week, on it if you press Fn + F5 it disables the trackpad. I restarted 4 times into two different operating systems fearing my brand new netbook had broken. After about 30 minutes of fretting over it I noticed the little drawing of a trackpad with an X through it on my F5 key and tried pressing it; and like magic my mouse came back.
posted by token-ring at 9:55 AM on March 11, 2010

Seems to me that beyond_pink has got this one. If system restore didn't do the trick then rolling back drivers, and/or reinstalling them completely, is the next step. If that doesn't do it then I can't think what would.

Hopefully not necessary for your situation, but my current favorite thing in the whole wide world:

The 'mini XP' bootable environment makes it really easy to rescue your files before you do a complete windows reinstall, and there are a ton of other good tools on the disc too.
posted by Erroneous at 12:37 PM on March 11, 2010

The latest update: I've downloaded and installed two different drivers in safe mode and also just deleted the mouse and touchpad to let them reinstall on their own and have had no success. I haven't tried the ubuntu thing yet. I'm going to try the safe mode deleting thing again just to make sure. Sadly, the Fn +F5 gambit did not work but I was so wishing it would.

If anyone else has any ideas feel free to share. Thanks to everyone who's commented so far. In the end I'll probably just have to nuke and pave the OS and start from scratch.
posted by wabbittwax at 2:04 PM on March 11, 2010

See if it is disconnected, or if it is disabled in the BIOS.

Troubleshooting tip: if it worked before, and you didn't change anything, adding drivers or software isn't going to help.

And don't leave the computer on and close the lid. Just asking for trouble.
posted by gjc at 6:55 PM on March 11, 2010

It sounds to me as if Microsoft just uploaded a DLL file with their 3am update that conflicted with the mouse/trackpad drivers - or another component that causes the driver load to fail.
If it is any help, I had an identical problem when I installed some additional RAM (memory) in my Lenovo portable. The thing that resolved that was a BIOS upgrade from Lenovo (discovered this through a Google search on "Lenovo T60 laptop freezes"). The problem in my case was an unrelated component (memory) that was causing the laptop to freeze at a certain point in the boot sequence.
The way that I would isolate this is to try the following, in order until one works:
1. Run the automated Microsoft Troubleshooting utility.
2. Use the Vista Event Viewer to determine what was changed on your system between when it worked and when it stopped working. Overwrite any DLL files that affected hardware devices with older versions (available via Google search or from your system boot disk/CD).
3. Boot with a Windows Vista Recovery Disc to remove the boot software problems (see this page if you do not have one). This will isolate a software problem from a hardware problem (if the problem does not go away, you have a hardware problem).
4. Get all the files that you need off your hard drive, then reinstall Windows. Personally, I would swap out the hard drive to an external enclosure, so you don't lose any files, then reinstall Windows.
posted by Susurration at 5:35 PM on March 12, 2010

PS - in step 2, save the DLL file with a different extension (e.g. rename msimsg.dll to msimsg.sav before copying an older version of the DLL file to that folder). Then restore any DLL files that don't affect the problem.
posted by Susurration at 5:38 PM on March 12, 2010

Well, in the end I did a factory image restore to the machine and that did the trick. interestingly I regained control of my mouse right at the moment I started the utility (outside of the actual windows shell I guess, and away from whatever it was that was causing the bug).

Anyone have any thoughts on how to make sure this doesn't happen again? I'm weighing the options of just turning off windows update or at the very least not letting it run unchecked.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:54 PM on March 13, 2010

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