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Blinking Desktop

  • Desktops
  • Windows XP
Last response: in Windows XP
September 9, 2004 3:17:29 AM

My Mother (who always manages to do wacky things to her PC) suddenly is having a problem with her desktop "blinking". According to her, the background wallpaper is steady, but her icons and task-bar are "blinking" on and off. She's running XP Pro SP2.

She can't click on icons or the Start Button, so she can't do anything on the PC, and I can't remotely connect to help her.

I've had her cycle the power on and off, same problem every time.

She lives about 100 miles from me, and I won't be able to get to her house for probably a couple of weeks to see the problem in person. I'm trying to help her on the phone, but I've never seen this problem before so I don't know what to tell her. I can't find anything on the web about this problem.

I was at her house for the entire Labor Day weekend, and the PC was working perfectly the entire time, so this is a sudden problem. All of the drivers are up to date as of last weekend.

If anyone has any insight into this problem, I'd really appreciate it. My Mom is driving me nuts.

Thanks for your help.

"I'm a man armed with a fork in a land of soup."

More about : blinking desktop

September 9, 2004 11:25:20 AM

it definitely should be scanned for virus/malware. I guess she'll have to come up in safe mode if she can't do anything in full mode.

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jlanka (. .)
September 9, 2004 10:33:21 PM

Yeah, but trying to talk her through anything else besides cycling the power on/off is next to imposible.

She does have antivirus/firewall/spyware software, all of which were up to date as of last weekend and not detecting anything, so I don't know.

Have you ever heard of this problem with blinking icons and taskbar?? I sure haven't.


"I'm a man armed with a fork in a land of soup."
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September 12, 2004 6:34:14 AM

If it is a steady blinking then it has to be spyware/virus related. If it is more of a flicker then I would try reinstalling the video drivers or installing a slightly older version of them.

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September 12, 2004 6:37:53 AM

According to her, it was a steady "blinking" of just the icons and task bar; the wallpaper was steady.

I was able to talk her through a re-installation of windows (on top of the old install). I'll do a clean windows install next time I'm at her house.


"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than have to have a frontal lobotomy."
December 29, 2008 2:31:51 AM

Nah brother, I'm having the same problem.

I keep my computer in top shape. I was listening to music, and my... desktop crashes. Which is something I never thought to be possible. Computer is still running, just the desktop crashes. So I do a hard reboot, and I'm amused to find that my desktop is blinking. No particular pattern, about every 20 seconds or so. 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off. Every time it blinks off, it exits out of everything that's running.

Here's the real kicker though... it exits out of everything EXCEPT my utility programs. I quickly opened up CCleaner and AVG before it blinked off, and to my surprise they didn't quit. So I run every available diagnostic and fix in CCleaner to no avail, it can't find a single problem. I'm about 90% done with AVG now, I unplugged the Ethernet cable in case it was a virus, but I doubt it is. I've been trying to back it up in some kind of way, or get some important files off of it, but all folders and drive windows close, including transfer windows.

I even checked up all the startup processes, nothing out of the ordinary. No running processes out of the ordinary, either. I even tried ending any and all processes that weren't crucial to keeping the computer running, still nothing.

I'm at a total loss here, and I'm just about ready to give up and just wipe the thing.
March 25, 2009 11:58:34 AM

I am having the same problem. The background is still, my screensaver comes in and the pictures are still but when on the desktop, the start button and task bar blink so you can't click on them. I have tried starting in safe mode and it does the same thing????

March 25, 2009 1:06:28 PM

I'm will to bet it has something to do with MSFT updates /hotfixes, I did a wipe and reinstall of XP not long ago and tried to keep the updates from working but they installed them through messenger, and IE7 uninstalled Yahoo messenger, and a bunch of the icons on my desktop,( X-universe and pages that had to do withbuilding another web site)and it took me a week to work arround or through and get things back to reasonablly operational, as it is I'm seriously looking at uninstalling IE7 I'm thinking if I go back to 6 and keep Opera I might have a chance of keeping this intact for a while
March 25, 2009 2:26:44 PM

just sounds like explorer is crashing....

ctrl+alt+del goto task manager, end process 'explorer.exe', then reload it in task manager goto file, run then type in the box 'explorer.exe'
February 25, 2010 8:09:47 PM

This also happened to my cousin, who also has weird situations develop on her computer! I had never heard
of blinking icons before, so I asked her if the hard drive was churning. She didn't know what that meant, so I had
her tilt the bottom of the laptop up to feel the bottom. I asked her if she felt vibrations - she replied no. I asked her
if it felt hot to the touch - she replied no. When she sat it back down on the desk, the cursors stopped blinking!
She said "Cousin, you are a miracle worker!". I said "I didn't do anything".

I am guessing that a connection inside the laptop came loose. So when she tilted it forward it reset the connection.
I also had her clean out (with canned air) the exhaust fan opening to keep it free from dust. Other guesses are that
the hard drive may be going bad, and this is the first symptom of it going bad. Or the LCD screen is going bad.