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In recent weeks several users have had an odd problem when returning from suspend. There have been 3 users consistently having this problem. All identical machines. But there are about 80 other users with the same exact setup that do not report this.

  • Windows XP w/all fixpacks as far as I know.
  • Lenovo Thinkpad T61p.

They all have the standard XP theme. Green start button, blue taskbar, etc. When they suspend and then resume, the taskbar has changed to the "unthemed" old school greyish background with non-rounded corners.

Nothing I do can get the standard theme back short of a complete reboot.

This is 100% reproducable on these 3 machines only.

Any ideas?


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I thought I should close this off. Turns out to be pretty strange, of course. The culprit? IBM's Personal Communications v5.8 (20040902). That's what all these machines had in common. They had all been doing some work for a customer that required PCOMM. The results are plain as day. If PCOMM is installed (doesn't matter if it's actually been run or not) the theme will be hosed up when resuming. If PCOMM is not installed everything works fine. I've duplicated this on 2 of the 3 machines. The 3rd is unavailable. Go figure.... – k-boo Jul 3 '09 at 16:46

Check your BIOS settings on these machines. My guess is that it's going to have something to do with your Hard Drive configuration, or your suspend mode. Ensure that suspend mode is S3, and that your Hard Disk Pre-Delay (if available) is 0.

Another thing to check is the power settings on the machines that have the problem. Ensure that the Hibernation file isn't corrupt (Disable Hibernation, then delete hiberfile.sys if it still exists, re-enable hibernation.) Also, are these machines hooked up to a UPS?

One last thing to check is the memory itself. Run a memtest, and scan the hard drive for errors.

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Thanks for the suggestions IceMage. I've already headed down that path to some degree... I've scanned all 3 of the drives and found no errors. I can put the drive from a problem laptop into a good laptop and the problem follows it. I can also put a good drive into a problem laptop and the problem DOES NOT follow. So, to me at least, this pretty definitively proves that it's some type of XP config issue. I have not played around with the hibernate file since this is a suspend problem, not a hibernate-to-disk issue. I will certainly look at that though. – k-boo Jun 19 '09 at 20:05
Oh, also, no UPS in play here at all. These are laptops so I suppose the "UPS" is the battery. 90% of the time these laptops are running on AC power. I have tried bother AC and battery troubleshooting with no luck. – k-boo Jun 19 '09 at 20:07
OK, seems as though you have it pretty well narrowed down. I'd check the installed software (especially any software that is running while your system goes into suspend mode) You can grab procexp from windows sysinternals to get a better view of what's running and try closing as many programs before you go into suspend. – IceMage Jun 25 '09 at 14:55

Could be driver related. I would check the graphics card driver and see if there is a more recent version available.

Another strategy: think about what is different on these three machines in comparison to all other PCs? Maybe there is a software installed which causes the problem. Or an attached device/docking station?

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Remote desktop sharing type software can have ill effects on displays.

Have you tried reinstalling service packs and/or hotfixes that have been applied since the problem started happening? Frequently something doesn't go just exactly right and ends up whacking a driver or something.

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