Help my computer from its decent into madness...
March 22, 2012 5:57 AM   Subscribe

What the heck is going on with my computer? The Windows task bar suddenly becomes unresponsive and other things suddenly started acting bizarrely. Details within...

This is happening to a 3 month old custom built computer running Windows 7 (64-bit version).

The problems started happening to me two days ago. I suddenly couldn't click on the Windows task bar (start menu, open tabs, clock, etc were unresponsive) unless I brought up Windows Task Manager - but it would fix the issue for only a short while. I couldn't minimize/close any windows that I was in and then suddenly I couldn't move any icons on my desktop, my mouse scroll wheel would suddenly activate auto-scroll at random times and bizarrely I couldn't click on any items contained in drop-down menus on websites (I just tried selecting a category for this post, but I can't click on a topic, only able to arrow down the list). For the drop-down menu problem I thought maybe it was because Firefox updated to version 11, so I uninstalled it and installed Firefox 10 but the problem persisted. I changed the batteries on the mouse and then changed the mouse completely but it did nothing.

I did a system restore before the problems started two days ago, but the issues remained. I finally ended up doing a clean install of Windows 7, which worked for 20 minutes, but all the problems started up again.

I am at a loss as to what is going on! Is it a hardware issue that could be causing this? Bad Windows update? Help!
posted by littlesq to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
This is going to sound like a wacky solution, but have you considered the possibility that your ctrl, alt or windows key is stuck in the down position? This causes mouse clicks to do bizarre things and would carry over from a complete OS re-install.

A quick fix could be slamming on those keys with your finger a few times.
posted by Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night at 6:31 AM on March 22, 2012

It sounds like your keyboard is working properly but your mouse isn't? Have you tried a different mouse? Is there anything nearby that may be causing radio interference with your mouse? It sounds odd, but I've had particular brands of (wired) mice act like you describe - auto-scrolling and so on - when my old EDGE phone was nearby and accessing the data network.
posted by metric space at 7:29 AM on March 22, 2012

Try swapping keyboard and mouse. Check for any USB devices that're plugged in (thumbdrives, spare drives, novelty toys, powered USB hubs, etc.) and remove them. Reboot, and see if it goes any better.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:21 AM on March 22, 2012

Since you've already reinstalled Windows and the problem is not just occurring in Explorer but Firefox as well, it sounds like a hardware problem.

To be certain that it's a hardware issue, you should try a Linux live CD. Download a CD image of Ubuntu or Linux Mint, boot off of it and see if the problem persists.

The first step after that I would try is disconnecting everything you have plugged into the computer except for the keyboard, mouse and monitor. If it still exhibits the problem, open up the computer and unplug everything that isn't necessary - extra memory, CD-ROM drive, SD card reader, expansion cards, additional hard drives, etc. If the problem goes away, reconnect your devices a few at a time until the problem comes back to determine the peripheral that is causing the issue.
posted by zixyer at 12:02 PM on March 22, 2012

Wow, it didn't occur to me to restart when I switched over to the new mouse. That seemed to have solved the problem! Only took 4 hours...headdesk
posted by littlesq at 6:06 PM on March 22, 2012

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