Your PC boots, gets to the Windows desktop, then freezes. Now what?

Cara Carlson can boot her computer just fine…until she gets to the Windows desktop. Then it freezes and won’t respond to keyboard or mouse.

A lot of programs and drivers load into Windows when you boot. One of them apparently doesn’t play well with others. The trick is to discover and then eliminate the problem program.

But how can you do that if Windows freezes before you can do anything with it?

The trick is to boot Windows into Safe Mode, which avoids potential problems by skipping the autoloading programs and all but the most basic drivers. Once there, you should be able to disable all of your enabled autoloading programs. How this is done depends on your version of Windows.

Windows 7

Boot the computer and immediately start pressing and releasing F8 over and over again. Instead of the Windows login screen, you should get the Advanced Boot Options menu. Select Safe Mode.

Once you’ve booted into Safe Mode, click Start, type msconfig, and press Enter to bring up the System Configuration program. Click the Startup tab.

Each item has a checkbox. The ones that are checked are enabled. Make a note of which ones are enabled so that you can go back to them later if need be. Then uncheck them all.

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