Why is my MSWord program seizing up with hot-pink static snow and how can I make it stop?
June 25, 2006 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Help! What is making my MS Word program suddenly seize up and look like scrambled pink and blue static?

I've got Windows XP and Office 2003 (both clean legal installs on a recently purchased used computer) and am having a strange and annoying problem with MS Word. The program opens normally and works perfectly, until inevitably the screen siezed up with light blue and bright pink static blurryness that looks like television "snow" (and which you cannot work through--you can barely see a thing) and I have to reboot the system because the "snow" remains on monitor even if I close out of Word. Rebooting fixes everything, but the problem always returns the next time I use Word (which is everyday). Sometimes the problem kicks in within seconds of using Word, sometimes I can work for up to an hour before it is triggered. I thought it might be triggered by using the mouse or scrollbar, so on a friend's advice I checked for mouse drivers and replaced the mouse but still have the problem. Likewise I have also scanned for viruses and found nothing on my system. Any suggestions? I have looked everywhere for a patch and can't find a single mention of this problem.
posted by applemeat to Technology (9 answers total)
Does this ONLY happen when you open Word? It sounds like less of a software problem and more of a video card/motherboard issue.
posted by timetoevolve at 7:10 AM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for replying--Yes, I only notice this in Word. Could a vid card problem be triggered in one program only?
posted by applemeat at 7:13 AM on June 25, 2006

It sounds like Word is asking the video card something it doesn't want to do. Other programs might do this, but you haven't triggered it. Update the video driver. I had a similar issue with another app and it was the video driver.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 AM on June 25, 2006

Have you tried starting up Word in Safe Mode?

Instruction for doing so are here.

Go to the second part of the document: User-initiated Office Safe Mode and follow the instructions. This will at least narrow it down a little. If you use Office or word plugins such as EndNote you might have a corrupted plugin.
posted by smallerdemon at 9:31 AM on June 25, 2006

- It could be the video driver, I'd update it. I'd also run Office Update and get as current as possible with the software.

- Turn off menu animations. Right-click your desktop, select Appearance tab, then click the Effects... button. Uncheck "Use the following transition...". Close this mess, then go into Word, select Customize... from the Tools menu, click the Options tab, and select "system default" for Transitions.
Do a search for "normal.dot". Rename it. Be advised that this will clear any customizations such as custom toolbars or autotext entries.

- Make sure nothing is loading when Word starts. In the Tools menu, select Templates and Add Ins... then uncheck anything in the "checked items are currently loaded" box.
posted by disclaimer at 9:41 AM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: Hi, I have now updated my video card driver, but the problem persisted.

I am currently running Word in (user initiated) safe mode per smallerdemon's suggestion. So far no troubles...will keep it running to see. Does this indicate that my problem is likely with my MSWord, or does this rule that out?

Could it be my motherboard BIOS? I have an ASUS A7V8X with current BIOS version 1013, though I found out that the current version out is 1015.. Would this difference matter? If perhaps version 1013 was not optimized for Windows XP?

Thank you everyone for your comments....And please forgive the terminology awkwardness probably evidenced above--computer literacy is not my forte!
posted by applemeat at 11:38 AM on June 25, 2006

This happens to my husband's flat-screen monitor at random intervals. He fixes it by squeezing the top of the frame- consequently, I'm guessing it's a hardware issue that you're noticing mostly in Word because of the big white block of space being filled in by pink-and-blue. My husband says he doesn't really notice it when it's just the black background.
posted by headspace at 4:00 PM on June 25, 2006

I highly doubt it's a software problem, it sounds exactly like bad RAM or some other hardware fault. Regarding the motherboard BIOS, you have to realize that as soon as the operating system finishes booting the BIOS no longer serves any purpose, so unless it is initializing the hardware busses incorrectly it is very unlikely that that's your problem. Here are some things to try:
  • Run memtest86+ for 24 hours (or however long it takes to do one complete loop.)
  • Boot from a linux or BartPE Live CD and see if you can make the same failure occur. (If it does occur with the live CD, then it's almost certain that it's a hardware problem.)
  • If you have more than 2 DIMMs try taking one out at a time and see if it always happens with one installed and not the other.
  • Check the motherboard's electrolytic power supply filtering capacitors for signs of leaking or bulging. (This was a very common failure several years ago, relating to a bad run of capacitors from a manufacturer that several motherboard vendors had used.)
  • Take out all the PCI cards and DIMMs, and use some isopropyl alcohol on the contact edges, then re-seat them firmly. (Make sure everything dries before reassembly.)
  • Take compressed CO2 to the case and flush out any dust, particularly dust stuck in fans. Make sure all the fans run.
  • Borrow known-good RAM and/or video card from another machine or friend and see if it still happens.

posted by Rhomboid at 5:59 PM on June 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

s/more than 2 DIMMs/more than a single DIMM/
posted by Rhomboid at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2006

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