Windows 11, issues on Optiplex 5060 and Inspiron 3020
Old Computer: Dell Optiplex 5060, Windows 11, Office 365
Phase 1: Everything loads but nothing opens
The trouble began on Tuesday, 15 august 2023. A power outage occurred. When it was over, I rebooted. Everything was normal. I was able to make a phone call on Skype. But the mouse pointer had been reset to the Windows 11 stock variety, a real nuisance because it is too small and much too hard to see on a white or light-colored screen (not easy on a colored screen, either). I have been using Real World cursors, and when I went to reload them, the procedure I had always followed produced strange results. I rebooted. At that point something went wrong. It was not obvious at first. The normal desktop appeared. Skype loaded as usual. The mouse moved the pointer as usual. The clock in the system tray still ran. The internet connection appeared to have been made. But if I clicked on a link icon, the program or app did not open. Instead, I got a drop-down menu. The first item on the menu was “Open”, but trying to click on it produced nothing, and the same was true of everything else on the menu,
That evening I went to the local library and accessed Windows Community Assistance. I established a chat with Committee member Adeola. She was going to get information on resetting the computer when the library closed and the chat was cut off.
On Wednesday morning, I booted up and got a message from Dell, telling me that something was wrong. It gave me several options, suggesting the one designated F3, a scan of the computer, which would have been my choice in any event. The scan ran, and seemed to find nothing amiss, but left me in the lurch. I got no instructions, no advice, and no link to a report, although I expect a report was generated. The Wednesday morning boot-up did produce a notice from Malwarebytes such as I get every morning with a normal boot-up; Malwarebytes had found nothing amiss.
I rebooted several times. Each time Skype also loaded as usual, but I could no more make a connection with a contact than I could open a link or communicate with anyone. Skype is of no use as long as this continues. One time when I rebooted Windows Defender loaded, but as clicking on any of the links was dead I could not get any help from it. Another attempt to log on did elicit a message from Microsoft as follows:
“Stop code: memory management.”
I had no idea what to do with this.
The next day I attempted to reach Windows Community Assistance again, with no luck; the library allows us two hours on the computer, and no one answered before my time ran out. So I cannot get help from MS Community until the problem I need their help to address has already been resolved.
Phase 2: Nothing opens
I did also learn from the internet that three consecutive unsuccessful attempts to boot up would invoke a reset of the computer by Dell, and that the trigger event could be simulated by three interrupted boots. I tried this on Thursday and get only a message that my computer had failed to open. At this point I could return to where I had been the previous day, to an open and online but useless computer. I tried the Dell reboot several times, and noticed a link to Dell’s “Advance Options” for solving the problem. These opti0ns included Startup Repair, Startup Settings, Command Prompt, Uninstall Updates, UEFI Firmware, and System Rest0re. Most of these simply kept me in the same vicious repeating cycle. System Restore did seem useful, and for a time I thought the problem would be solved. Dell found one restore point, and since I had not had Windows 11 for long it was no surprise that there were not more. But when System restore began to run, Microsoft intervened with a set of questions that I did not want to deal with at that time: Wouldn’t I like to declare Bing my official search engine? Wouldn’t I like to declare Edge my default browser? Etc. There was also a “Not Now” button, which I was not slow to press. The result was disaster compounded. Now the computer will not open at all. I am simply stuck in the Dell hamster run. Any of the options proves a dead end and sends me back to “Go”. One thing that does appear to work: I can still type on Command Prompt. Tis may well hit the same dead-end wall as everything else, and even if not what to enter as a command is well above my pay grade.
New Computer: Dell Inspiron 3020, Windows 11
Phase 1: Everything loads but nothing opens
Acquired Monday, 4 September 2023, but it took me some time to devise a monitor that would work with it, so it was not until Thursday, 14 September that I attempted to install the operating system. I was not familiar with the current system that Microsoft uses to do this, which seems to be a cooperative effort between Microsoft and Dell, mostly automated so that the user is presented several times with “yes or no” questions and otherwise has little to do. I would have preferred a sort of basic setup at this stage, but the system was eager to make the new computer as similar to its predecessor as possible. So it went on for a while, installing this and that and seldom giving me any initiative. One installed item, thank God, was McAfee anti-virus program. The system rolled on until suddenly a message from McAfee informed me that my info was on the dark web and that there had been 61 breaches. This message was displayed briefly and then disappeared, and I recognized immediately thereafter that the new computer was in Phase 1 of the disaster that afflicted the old one. The McAfee program had been able to recognize malware as the source of the disaster, apparently a trojan, but was not able to stop it.
On the old computer I had Malwarebytes anti-virus (which did a scan every morning), a Zone Alarm firewall, Superantispyware and Spybot Search & Destroy (the last two I run approx. weekly; granted that their main task is eliminating nuisance cookies, they do download new anti-Trojan material ever week) , and the Windows Defender matter compatible with the anti-virus. It wasn’t enough.
Of course I am now terrified that anything I might do could trigger Phase 2, so I do nothing. I worry about Dell and Microsoft, because it was shortly after Microsoft butted in to my my efforts to run System Renew in accordance with Dell’s instructions that the Optiplex entered Disaster Phase 2. But I have to depend on Dell and/or Microsoft to tell me how to recover. I have no working computer at home and must rely on a library several miles away to talk with Dell or Microsoft. I cannot, for example, let an online Tech take control of my computer, because I cannot open a browser. Obviously the first thing to attempt is to recover the Inspiron.