First time poster with a first time problem. I read the "before you post thread" so hopefully I won't make too many noob mistakes!
Current problem: Windows XP SP3 slowly becomes unusable over time in a strange way with the same sequence happening each time. First, while using an open tab in Google Chrome 20.0.1132.47 m, the page which I'm browsing either blanks out and becomes completely white. All times this has happened so far have been while browsing YouTube, Facebook and Gmail (although if I use the basic html version of gmail instead of the default version, this problem doesn't occur). Next, some text, seemingly at random, disappears from one or more of the open tabs' descriptions on Chrome. Next, strange things happen on the taskbar: my clock, quick launch icons, power meter indicator, some text for the open programs, and the text for the "start button" disappear. If I look at icons on the desktop at this point, their text descriptions sometimes disappear, too. If I right-click on anything, or open the start menu, characters at random are missing from the text, too. Around this time, Google Chrome freezes and often the tabs at the top of the page disappear and turn into a normal Windows XP-formatted window (just a bar with the minimize, maximize and close icons on the right, all in the color theme set for Windows XP, not how they look normally in Chrome). In the next step, if I try to launch any program, I get a dialog box with and x on it and many characters missing and a single "OK" button. Since the characters are missing, it's hard to say what the dialog box is saying, but from the several times this has happened, it looks like it's giving the path to the executable file and saying that it can't be initialized.
At this point, I can either open the start menu, click "turn off computer" (whose text is usually corrupted) and "restart" (whose text is also corrupted - just the picture appears) or I have to hold down the power button of my computer in order to turn it off manually.
Attempts to fix & prevent this: Doing a CHKDSK repair did nothing. These symptoms are prevented when I use Internet Explorer as a browser, do work without opening Chrome (in Word, Adobe Reader, etc), or use chrome and avoid Facebook, the non-html version of Gmail, and Youtube.
Because the crash seems to be triggered by Flash-heavy things, I was thinking that it was specifically Flash in Chrome that's causing the harm, but I'm no good at these things, so I can't be sure.
What preceded this and possible causes: my computer was fully functional until I was alerted to upgrade my version of Avast AV Free to the latest version about a week ago, which is now running as 7.0.1451. This is the last change I recall making to my computer before the problems occurred.
Just happened again as I was typing this in Chrome thinking everything was going well. Fortunately, Chrome saved the text for me! I had to reboot and then reopen Chrome.
Also, I found this forum because I saw someone else posted a very similar issue to mine here: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic459063.html
Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to keep Chrome as my browser and Avast AV as my AV if possible, but if they have to go so I have a functional computer, so be it.
Thanks in advance!
Edited by Philosophos, 02 July 2012 - 01:42 PM.