I went to wake up my computer this morning and was greeted by a mouse cursor and two blank screens. I gave it a customary restart and was starting to look a little better. I got a Windows boot splash screen and a few seconds later I was back in my profile. Except, I couldn’t click on anything. Not a great sign.
I’ve worked in IT Support for last five years, four of them doing Desktop Support, so my brain instantly kicked in to troubleshooting mode. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do before clocking in this morning but, I knew it was going to bother me all day if I didn’t take a crack at fixing it.
At first, I was worried my graphics card was on the fritz. It’s now five and a half years old now and I’ve had to replace the fan on it twice now. Everything looked good there, even unplugged it and used the onboard graphics which produced the same issue.
Unless the board or the CPU were failing I was confident this was a software issue. Software issues are great, they usually don’t cost anything to fix – well, other than time. It was a struggle but I was able to get the task manager to open. The NVIDIA Container, which I learned houses all of the NVIDIA processes while their doing something, was pegging the CPU to 100%. The Desktop Windows Manager was taking up all of the RAM. That explained why things seemed to be working if I waited long enough for them to open.
I figured at this point it was either a corrupt driver or some corruption with Windows itself. I tried to get to the command line to run some Windows repairs but the UAC prompt would never load to run cmd as administrator. I really should turn that off….
Next, it was on to try a system restore and automatic repair. Both failed to do anything. I tried booting in to safe mode but was met with more black screens that never loaded. I’m sure I could have fought with it some more but time was dwindling before I had to be logged on for work. So I went with the nuclear option. A good, old, fashioned, reinstall of Windows
.I keep my OS on a small SSD and have separate data drives which makes a complete reinstall relatively painless. It was pretty quick too, I think it only took 20 minutes from formatting the drive to logging in to a new profile. I forgot how ugly the default Windows set up is. Who decided the Light Theme was a good choice? I changed that as soon as I could.
Firefox, Steam, and Discord all needed a reinstall but I took this opportunity to do some clean up. Before, my desktop was covered in icons for unused programs, ancient files, and forgotten games. I could have re-added my Steam Library from my D drive but I just deleted the whole thing to start over fresh. I installed the games I’m either playing with other people right now or thinking about playing on my own in the very near future. I’ll reinstall whatever other programs I hadwhen I find that I need them.
For now, the issues seem to be fixed and everything feels less cluttered. As an added bonus, I get a blog post out of it!