Q: My wife has a reasonably new HP Envy laptop (around 2 years old) with which we are having a problem. If left unattended long enough that it tries to go to sleep, the screen goes blank and the fan starts running full speed. Nothing will wake the computer up again — mouse, keyboard, touch pad, even Alt-Ctrl-Del. The only thing we can do is hold the power button for five seconds until the machine does a hard shutdown and then reboot.
I have tried putting the machine to sleep manually, and that seems to work — everything shuts down — but after some period of time (perhaps hours), I notice that the fan is once again running full-bore and the machine is locked up.
I suspect that something (a driver perhaps?) is having trouble with the transition from active to sleep, but I do not know how to figure out which bit of software is the culprit. I have tried looking in the event log, but there are no errors that I can see that seem relevant — nothing that correlates in time with when the issue occurred.
The computer is pretty clean — Windows 10 Home, Build 1903, Office 365, Chrome, Living Cookbook 2015, and not much else. Updates are applied regularly. There is anti-virus software on the system that says everything is clean, and our home network is well-secured (strong password on the router, not broadcasting the wireless ID, etc.). Both my wife and I are very cognizant of internet security so I am pretty confident that there is no malware involved.
Do you have any suggestions on how to track down and resolve this issue?
— Ron van der Meulen
A: That is, indeed, a nasty problem. And it could be caused by such an array of things — with the list led by faulty drivers and viruses — that tracking down the problem may be daunting.
Here’s what I’d do. Before going to the extreme measures that will follow, I’d try unplugging any peripherals and then reboot Windows in safe mode. Safe mode starts Windows with a minimal set of files and drivers. If a problem doesn’t happen in safe mode, this means that default settings and basic device drivers aren’t causing the issue. You’ll find instructions for starting in safe mode here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/start-your-pc-in-safe-mode-in-windows-10-92c27cff-db89-8644-1ce4-b3e5e56fe234.
If the computer operates fine in safe mode, you can start to add peripherals and drivers back in until you locate the culprit. Yes, that can be tedious.
If the problem persists in safe mode — or if you don’t want to go through the tedium of troubleshooting — it’s time to back up your data and start from scratch. That means reformatting the drive and reinstalling Windows.
If the problem recurs, it’s almost certainly being caused by defective hardware in the computer itself.
I do wish there was a simpler answer for you.
Q: I’m at my wit’s end. I keep getting the same error message when I try to open several programs, with the only difference being the program name. This is what I get when I try to open Adobe Acrobat:
“Adobe Acrobat Pro: Acrobat.exe — Bad Image, X, 0rI CAWINDOWS\SYSTEM32\ clxcore.d11 is either not designed to run on Windows or it contains an error. Try installing the program again using the original installation media or contact your system administrator or the software vendor for support.”
After clicking the OK button a bunch of times, it usually goes away and the program opens and I can use it. However, some programs will not work at all, including Zoom, Quicken and now Skype. I have no problem with Word or Excel, yet, but I’d love to get rid of it!
I even brought my laptop to a computer repair shop which, after charging me $200, wasn’t able to figure out the problem. Nothing I have tried has helped. Can you offer any suggestions?
— John Keane
A: Basically, that error message indicates that the computer can’t run a Windows DLL file that the program in question is trying to access to interact with Windows. The file may have been corrupted.
First, I suggest you run Microsoft’s System File Checker, which is designed to repair missing or corrupted system files. You can learn about that here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/929833/use-the-system-file-checker-tool-to-repair-missing-or-corrupted-system.
If that doesn’t solve the problem, you can try to repair the Windows installation. If that doesn’t work, you can reinstall Windows. You’ll find detailed instructions for either option here: https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/repair-windows-10.