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3/24/06 Give me back my Windows system tray icons

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / March 23, 2006 3:33 AM PST

I have a Dell Dimension running XP Home edition with all updates and SP2. All of a sudden, the icons in the system tray started disappearing randomly. First, Safely Remove Hardware" went away, then the volume control, then icons for background applications such as Counterspy and my desktop search, and the McAfee antivirus app. A few are still there, and?oddly enough--sometimes when I reboot, some that had been gone show up again, only to vanish on the next reboot. I checked the task manager, and the background programs (such as McAfee) are running, but there's no systray icon. I've checked the Properties/customize notifications, and clicked Restore Defaults, but that didn't help. Not having the icons in the system tray is more than an annoyance, as it is often hard to access some background programs another way. Can you help?

Submitted by: Robert M. of Lockhart, Texas
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Barry W's winning answer
by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / March 23, 2006 3:33 AM PST

I had the exact same problem, and while I cannot be absolutely certain that what I found relates to your situation, I think that it might. What I found was that there seems to be a bug in Windows XP, and that for some inexplicable reason, Universal Plug and Play can cause icons to disappear from the system tray.

There are two places where you can manage the presence or absence of UPnP in Windows XP:

First, Control Panel, Add or Remove Programs, select Add/Remove Windows Components (on the left), then click on ?Networking Services? and ?Details?. You will see ?UPnP User Interface? listed. (this seems to be the setting that is relevant to this issue).

The second place is in the Windows Firewall, in the Exceptions Tab (you must first have allowed Exceptions in the general tab).

I have no idea why there is an interaction between UPnP and the icons in the system tray, but when I removed UPnP from Control Panel Add/Remove Windows Components, on my system the problem disappeared.

After I originally found this last November, other people reported a similar connection. My original report of this link (between UPnP and disappearing system tray icons) was in a now-expired Microsoft Newsgroup article from last November, which is no longer directly available, but this link will bring up the message thread.

Hope that this helps.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio
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SP2-Microsoft have tried to flog this junk for months-
by terrancedv50 / March 23, 2006 7:13 PM PST

I wouldn't go near SP2. I have heard such horror stories. Microsoft tried to snuck it in the other day because foolishly I had left my browser on automatic downloads.
But i got the last laugh-because I did not have enough MBs on my ageing laptop - for the download.
I did download SP1 and to be fair it stabilised some problems I was having. But that was in sheer desperation.
The trouble is you can't get rid of SP2 once installed. Any readers beware!
Anyway Barry W I hope all is well.

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SP2 CAN Be Removed
by pmchefalo / March 23, 2006 9:15 PM PST

Sorry, sir, SP2 for Windows XP can be removed. Your system is under great risk for the lack of it.

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Better Way To Remove SP2?
by src / March 24, 2006 7:04 AM PST
In reply to: SP2 CAN Be Removed

No need to fdisk and reformat. You can pull out your Windows XP CD and do a System Repair. That is if your copy does not already contain SP2.
The repair process will remove all of the installed updates and (usually)"wink" leave your installed programs intact.
Of course you will then have to go throught the teadious process of doing the updates you want.
Hope you have Broadband---Good Luck

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Of course....
by whfite / March 28, 2006 3:56 AM PST
In reply to: SP2 CAN Be Removed

Of course SP2 can be removed. Why would one want to?

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by terrancedv50 / April 7, 2006 3:25 PM PDT
In reply to: SP2 CAN Be Removed

Thanks for that. But I have got by without SP2. I've had to. My ageing laptop only has 5.8GB capacity (and I have to manage on around 600MB!). I'm told I can get 30G added for $135 (AUD)-but that can't happen at the moment.
I use Spybot-search & destroy;Ad-aware 6 (to rid spy-adware) and PandaActive (to check on viruses).
All are free.
I bought my laptop from Ebay almost 2 years ago;and so far,so good.
In fact, I find Microsoft's continued error reports and attempts to push SP2 extremely suspicious.
If SP2 is so necessary-why do they keep pushing it on clients.
Seems to me the uptake can't be as high as hoped.
Also Microsoft have introduced their own free versions of PandaActive and Ad-aware. They have had little effect on my laptop's performance.
But,each to their own.
best regards

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MS "error messages"-
by terrancedv50 / May 20, 2006 5:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks-

Surely, I can't be the only member plagued by MS "error messages"? As I said in my original thread I can go a few days without one message-then the next thing I get a spate of them. More often than not-they cannot explain the "error" or problem...but suggest installing SP2 or when I had MSN Messenger 7.5,suggested upgrading it, presumably to Pro which you have to pay for. I have a feeling these messages are a "sales pitch" for SP2 and other MS products.
does any member agree or disagree?

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SP2-Microsoft have tried to flog this junk for months-
by jmatherne / March 23, 2006 9:43 PM PST

I have had SP2 installed on both of my computer since it came out and wouldn't be without it. It has many good features. People that have problems with SP2 didn't have their computer set up properly for an install.

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by xpert4u2 / March 26, 2006 9:12 AM PST

Couldn't agree with you more. Have had SP2 on 3 computers and have never had any problems with it. In fact I've had Windows since it came out and have never had the problems reported. Must be with the operators...

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Very few people share your views or experience w/SP2
by Watzman / March 23, 2006 11:02 PM PST

SP2 is one of the best enhancements that MS has ever made. Very few people share either your views or experience, and most of us would not operate a computer on XP without SP2. In the "early days" for a couple of months after SP2 was released, a small number (less than 10%) of users had serious problems. Over time, it's been found that the causes of these were not SP2 but other factors (Prescott processors with a "prescott buggy" BIOS, installing SP2 on systems that were "pre-infected", etc.). SP2 itself, installed on a clean system with a current BIOS for the installed CPU, is a huge enhancement in security and stability for almost all users/systems.

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SP2 isn't evil
by Rocker452 / March 24, 2006 2:50 AM PST

I've had SP2 on my laptop since it came out and have had few problems with it. I do advise to instal it from a CD and not from Windows Update though.

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thanks for your post-
by terrancedv50 / May 20, 2006 4:53 PM PDT
In reply to: SP2 isn't evil

Why do you suggest CD installation of SP2? What problems did you have? I find with "dial up" it's a marathon download. I tried 3 times unsuccessfully.
Many thanks

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SP2 Unistallable
by grayfrier / March 24, 2006 4:11 AM PST

Sp2 is totaly unstallabile i should i have had to unstill severial programs and i reinstall it so often on other computers that i now have it on a disc just for that reason.
Its not that Sp2 is a problem but some systems or programs on those systems refuse to get along for some reason.
I know in the begining i had all kinds of trouble with it when i tryed to just do the down load and install its to big in my opinion for that so i went for the disc option and have not looked back.
Sp2 loads and can be unloaded through the Add/Remove feature on your system any time you want.

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SP2 isn't the nightmare it was at first
by ddhamm / March 24, 2006 4:14 AM PST

I don't think SP2 is causing the problems for people that it did at first. I dragged my feet a while before updating to SP2.. I followed all the recommendations about "What to do before, etc." and had no problems with it whatsoever. I recommend trying it.


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by lucky76 / March 24, 2006 10:04 AM PST

Sorry, but XP SP2 is a must for any XP system and I've never had any problems with SP2 on many computers.

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Nothing wrong with SP2.
by haywoodwhy / March 24, 2006 12:32 PM PST

Your problem is your old system, as SP2 will cause no problems if installed on a reasonably modern system. I am sure MS knows what it is doing with its own OS, and that you are running on superstition.
The problem is likely with UPnP, and how it is being used.

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OK-I bow to the majority consensus re SP2-
by terrancedv50 / May 19, 2006 5:09 AM PDT

I have to admit the forum writer who suggested "superstition" might have been behind my SP2 prejudice is probably right.
But,in fairness to myself,I have tried to download SP2-without success-two or three times.
My laptop is equipped with XP-Pro - and has plenty of space.
On "dial up"-unless things have changed-it is a marathon download.
What annoys me about Microsoft is their continuous error messages - which they can't explain.
Typical message runs something like this. We can't explain what has caused the error-but if you install SP2 or upgrade your MSN Messenger perhaps this will solve the (unknown) problem.
To me,it sounds suspiciously like a sales pitch.
I use PandaActive ( free virus remover), Ad-aware (free spyware remover), Spybot and MS's malicious spyware remover.
My laptop is virus-free, but always has a bit of spyware (but doesn't every PC no matter what you use? unless,of course, you are a real geek and can totally eliminate it. And I mean totally and KNOW you have).
I guess I have a gripe with Microsoft and their market dominance which may color my view of their software.
But that's another thread-for another day.
Many thanks for the opinions expressed.
I found many very instructive.

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That's not entirely true...
by icyplanet / March 24, 2006 1:54 PM PST

Service Pack 2 can be easily removed from the Add Remove programmes screen if you have a tick in the 'Show Updates' box. Sometimes you don't even need the tick in there for it to show... 'Windows Service Pack 2.' Click 'Remove' and away you go! Sorry to post such an obvious comment but sometimes i feel people overlook the straight forward answers! Take care everyone.

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Security lacking in SP1
by steve_is / March 24, 2006 2:08 PM PST

My new machine of 15 months came with XP SP2 installed and has been the most stable, easiest to use system that I have ever owned, heck, I've had more problems with some of the DOS based OS's I've had in the past.

I would worry if I only had SP1 - there are known security holes that cannot be plugged without SP2.

It may be that the SP1>SP2 upgrade is not as good as having SP2 installed with the original OS...I do not know...all I know is - I have never had a problem adding or deleting any hardware/software and have never had any security problems that weren't caused by my own stupidity.


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by Rick3904 / March 24, 2006 11:51 PM PST

I installed SP2 on all of my computers back when it was released and have had absolutely no problems with it.

Also I don't get viruses, spyware, etc.

Are you have to do is keep your virus definitions up to date, use Firefox, not IE, scan for spyware every now and again, and don't click on links for things like free screen savers, free iPods, etc.

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uninstall SP2
by micpic / March 25, 2006 11:26 AM PST

You are so right! after installing SP2 my PC went downhill, became sluggish and some programs refused to work correctly, I thought it was time to heave it off the harbour bridge untill I read your posting.
I went to install/unistall and pressed remove, a warning box appeared, I continued and it uninstalled sweetly, I restarted the PC and would you believe it's running 4 or 5 faster and all my programs are faultless, unbelievable!!
Thanks davidjd and thanks CNET.

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SP2 is important
by bammike / March 25, 2006 8:31 PM PST
In reply to: uninstall SP2

Windows XP service pack 2 has many important security updates that make it a must to install. The firewall can cause problems with some programs, but can be disabled and replaced with a third party firewall, such as Zonealarm, which is free. I also disable the popup blocker in Internet Explorer. Windows Defender beta is also a desirable addition to ward off spyware..(which can slow down your computer).


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Come clean folks about SP2-
by terrancedv50 / May 20, 2006 11:34 PM PDT
In reply to: uninstall SP2

Read post 44. The writer had trouble with SP2...are most of you MS "plants"!
I know one is it cuckoo/swallow? doesn't make a spring-but surely this post must represent others' experience with SP2?
I have heard of awful experiences with SP2. Another writer posted he needed a CD to install it-becuase it took too download.
I bowed to majority opinion, after reading several posts suggesting SP2 was an invaluable tool.
But, post 44 dissents so strongly...that I am not so sure about installation.

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Come Clean folks about SP2
by jmatherne / May 21, 2006 3:51 AM PDT

I am not a MS plant, but this is my posting:
SP2-Microsoft have tried to flog this junk for months-
I have had SP2 installed on both of my computer since it came out and wouldn't be without it. It has many good features. People that have problems with SP2 didn't have their computer set up properly for an install.

Posted by: jmatherne (see profile) - 03/24/2006 5:43 AM

I stand by my statement made on 03/24/2006

Your computer must be free of viruses, ad-adware, trojans and all malware and you need to do a defrag and clean out all unnecessary temp files, etc. Of course you should do this before installing any software. The first computer that I installed this own was a 1999 Compag Prosignia 330 which came with Window 98. I then installed Windows 98 SE, then Windows Milenium, then Windows XP Home, then SP 1 and finally SP 2. The other computer is a Dell Dimension that came with Windows XP Home, SP 1 and then I installed SP 2. Now common sense would indicate that if there was a problem I would have had it on the Compaq since it had gone through multiple operating systems before I installed SP 2. My son had problems with SP 2 and even though he had studied computers in college and they didn't even have computer when I went to college, I had more patience than he has. That is why it takes patience and doing the install the proper way. There was no magic involved.

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XP SP2 problems.
by LionsMike / May 22, 2006 12:50 PM PDT

I did not read message 44 again. I do recall several people describing such problems. I went through hell trying to get XP SP2 to work on a friends computer. after countless hours I just put the WINDOWS 3.11 back in. I think that some of the older computers especially the 486 and P1 version machines are just not up to running Win XP at all.

I put SP2 in my machine in the first week that it was available. I do not recall any problems. I am now running IE7 and it is giving me several problemas way worse that SP2 ever did

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XP SP2 problems
by jmatherne / May 22, 2006 2:45 PM PDT
In reply to: XP SP2 problems.

A 486 0r a P1 computer is not capable of running windows XP much less SP 2. That is why it didn't work.

I have seen e-mail from Microsoft about the dangers of running some computers and programs on IE 7 as I believe it is still in beta version and has some compatibility issues that still have not been worked out.

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XP SP2 Problems
by LionsMike / May 23, 2006 4:51 AM PDT
In reply to: XP SP2 problems

My point exactly.

People who are having such serious problems with SP2, might help themselves by looking at their systems and other programs.

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Let them go
by ferrari_250 / March 23, 2006 8:09 PM PST

As a PC tech for a large organization in which I am responsible for image development, I tend to eliminate any nonessetial processes running at startup. Elimination of any unneccessary process or service can help optimize system performance. So doing away process or service that will utilize precious memory resources (and we all know how precious memory is in an XP environment) can help speed up your system. I know it seems like a small thing, and it is, but compounded with other methods of optimization every little bit helps. System tray icons are nice to look at and can have there uses, but typically most are just window dressing 90% of the time. If them vital processes for the applications linked to the icons are still running in the backround then let the icons go. Happy

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But that's not the issue ....
by Watzman / March 23, 2006 11:05 PM PST
In reply to: Let them go

First, the issue isn't processes; the problem is that the icon disappears, not the underlying process. And, second, it's really annoying when you lose, for example, the volume control (speaker) icon (even though "show volume control in the system tray" is still checked), or an essential icon for controlling hardware (for example, the ATI icon to bring up the player program for an installed TV tuner card), or the icon to bring up Windows Messenger (which is still installed and running).

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Have you Tryed?
by xpert4u2 / March 26, 2006 9:27 AM PST

I don't know the age of your computer ot how much Ram you have but I did solve a similar problem with an older comnputer by increasing the Ram memory. Just a thought...

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