My cursor froze and won't move at all. I've tried restarting several times with no result. How can I make it work again?
The Curse of the Frozen Cursor
Several possibilities come to mind when I hear about a frozen cursor. The two that stick out are: mouse issues and memory issues. Let's take a look at both and see if we can remove the curse.
First, let's explore the possibility that something is going on with your computer's mouse.Is it a wireless mouse? If so, replace the batteries and then re-establish the connection between the mouse and its receiver. I used to use a wireless mouse and had to periodically reset it, even if the batteries were good. I eventually became so tired of constant mouse failures that I went back to the old-fashioned, but reliable, wired mouse. Look at the bottom of the mouse for a small reset button.
Another common problem with both wired and wireless mice involves mouse device drivers. Are you able to navigate your system using the keyboard or is the entire system frozen? For example, if you press the Windows button on your keyboard, does the Start menu appear? If so, your computer isn't frozen, but since the mouse won't work it's likely that the mouse driver is corrupt or missing. In this case, you'll need a fresh driver for your mouse. This won't be easy as you will need to use keyboard shortcuts and the arrow keys to navigate. Difficult, but not insurmountable.
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First, press the Windows key to open the Start menu. If you have Windows Vista, type Device Manager into the Search bar and press the Enter key. Press Enter again as soon as you see the Device Manager icon appear. (In Windows XP, use your arrow key to get to Run and then type devmgmt.msc and then press the Enter key.)
When Device Manager loads, use the Tab key to get the cursor into the category list and then use the arrows to get to Mice and Pointing Devices. Use the right arrow to expand the list. Arrow down to your mouse and press the Enter key. From here, you'll need to use the Tab key and the arrow keys to navigate to the Driver tab. This is tricky, so keep trying. Once you see that the General tab appears to be highlighted, use your right arrow key to activate the Driver tab. Use Alt + P to update the driver. Use the arrows to select Search Automatically. Windows will then search for updated mouse drivers. If found, Windows will load them and then you must restart the computer before the mouse will work.
If your mouse and its drivers are fine, but the cursor - and the entire system - is frozen, then you may have a memory issue. Common causes of frozen computers include having too many programs open at once, computer virus and spyware infections, and a cluttered Windows Registry. The trick here is to get the computer to function well enough to start troubleshooting which is where Safe Mode comes into play. Reboot your computer and press the F8 key repeatedly until you get to the Safe Mode options screen. Choose Safe Mode and let Windows load. The screen will look different so don't be alarmed.
Once in Safe Mode, you can start basic troubleshooting. I recommend running Disc Cleanup, defragging the hard drive, and eliminating any unnecessary startup items as the first order of business. Disc Cleanup and the Defragmenter are both located in Programs\Accessories\System Tools folder. You can adjust startup items by going to Start > Run and typing in msconfig. Click the Startup Items tab and remove checkmarks by programs that are not essential to load each time you start Windows. Once these tasks are complete, I'd update and run a complete antivirus/antispyware scan.