I've recently begun to have some problems with my PC (three-year-old Dell), running Windows 7. I usually put it in sleep mode when I'm not going to be using it for a while, but a couple of weeks ago, when I "woke" it, I couldn't get my browser (Firefox) or email program (Thunderbird) to open. The little indicator circle went round and round, but neither would open. I tried restarting the computer, but when the screen had said "shutting down" for half an hour, it was clear to me it wasn't going to complete, so I held the power button on the computer down until it shut off, waited a minute or so, and restarted it. The restart went normally, and things worked all right, but this problem continued, so I quit putting the computer to sleep at all. I would still occasionally have problems that I can't explain. One day, my word processing program wouldn't open. Same little spinning icon, no result, Yet a few hours later when I clicked on it, it opened just fine. Yesterday, I left it on (not in sleep mode) while I ran some errands, came back, neither the email program nor my browser would open. Turned the tower off, waited, restarted, booted normally, but the monitor screen was black except for the cursor arrow. Some fiddling with the monitor settings woke it up, but this has happened before and only restarting the computer has worked to get the desktop to appear normally. "Restart" and "Shut Down" simply don't work anymore at all - the PC doesn't even seen to try to respond.
I'm not crazy about having to manually turn the computer off and on like this. Sometimes when I do, I get the little black window that tells me the PC didn't shut down properly before and would I like to start it in regular or safe mode, but often, I don't get that screen at all. This morning, when it tried to open the email program, it tried to start, then I got a "not responding" message for quite a while, so I tried to use Task Manager to close it so I could restart the program. Even Task Manager wouldn't work! I got the Task Manager screen all right, highlighted the email program, clicked for it to force the program to quit, and nothing happened.The thing that's so maddening about all of this is that none of this happens (or doesn't) consistently. Most of the time on a cold boot, the desktop displays just fine; only sometimes is it black with just the cursor showing. Most of the time, I can open any program; only sometimes does it refuse. Why my word processing program wouldn't open in the morning (whle others did just fine), but later the same day, without any change in the status of the computer, it opens beautifully, is just mystifying. The only thing that's consistent is that restart and shut down don't respond.
My usual computer fix-it guy, whose really more an Apple man than PC, suggested I run an "scf /scannow" command; I've read up enough to think I can do this, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to accomplish and if it asks for the start disc, well, my experience is those never, ever work, so I'm a bit leery. I'm a computer user, but not particularly skilled at understanding this tech stuff.
Once I post this, I'm going to run a full MalwareBytes virus scan, but nothing that's happening (or not happening, as the case may be) sounds to me like a virus - but what do I know? Hopefully by the time that finishes, one of you lovely people can give me some insight into what's going on with my benighted PC. Thanks in advance!