Windows Legacy OS forum


ActiveDesktop Recovery

by dmd0705 / February 10, 2012 2:01 AM PST

I have Win XP Pro on my laptop. I often just close the top without logging out. Because of a dead battery I have reboot the next time and I always get the Active Desktop Recovery on the white screen instead of my normal desktop. Is there a way to get rid of this? It's a pain to have to go into desktop properties and choose my background pic again every time. Thanks!

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All Answers

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Have you disabled Active Desktop?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 10, 2012 2:51 AM PST
In reply to: ActiveDesktop Recovery
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by dmd0705 / February 10, 2012 5:16 AM PST

I already did that. It doesn't work. Still, every time I just close my laptop and have to do a cold boot the next day, I get the same screen every time. The check box never was checked so I don't know what the problem is. I've looked all over the web and haven't found a real fix yet:(

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Hmm, that's all a bit strange.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 11, 2012 3:58 AM PST
In reply to: Mark...

Try this.

Change the screen resolution of the display, then change it back again.

If that fails, change the Desktop wallpaper and see if the problem goes away after a reboot. If it does, you can try changing it back again but it's possible that the wallpaper you had is corrupt.

Let us know how you get on.


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by dmd0705 / February 11, 2012 9:04 AM PST

I changed the resolution and then changed it back again. I'm using a family photo on the desktop so I chose a different one. I'll see what happens tomorrow after I've shut it down tonight and had to reboot tomorrow. Thanks for helping me with this. I'll let you know the outcome tomorrow afternoon.:)

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Didn't work:(
by dmd0705 / February 11, 2012 4:02 PM PST
In reply to: Changes

I used a different picture and I still got the Active Desktop Recovery white screen:( Now what?

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Didn't work
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 11, 2012 8:42 PM PST
In reply to: Didn't work:(

That's a shame as I was hoping for a quick fix. I'm sure you were as well.

I re-read your first post for any clues and all I could find was where the battery went dead during sleep or hibernate. It's not a problem I've heard of as when the computer shuts off like this the damage is often more severe. This does seem a minor problem and it is confusing.

I have some more ideas, but we're getting technical now so can you tell me more about this machine, ie;

1] Laptop make and model and specs, (processor speed, how much RAM, hard disk size and how much free and used space. Which XP, (Home or Pro), and which Service Pack is installed, SP1, 2 or 3?

2] Any peripherals attached, eg printer, any USB devices.

3] What security applications do you run, firewall, anti-virus, (which ones), and any other scanners or registry optimizers, (which ones)?

4] Anything changed on this system recently, software added/removed, any virus or other malware infections? Any upgraded software, eg IE6 to IE7? (I see a Microsoft article about that and Active Desktop, here; )

5] How many Admin capable accounts does this system have? More information about that below;

Admin Accounts.

XP comes with an Admin Account already installed, I call it the System Administrator Account. We need that otherwise, when we first start the system, we would not be able to do anything with it. However the recommended action is to, 'immediately' create our own Admin Capable account and use that. When we then boot up into that account the System Administrator Account disappears from the Welcome Screen and is hidden. We do that because if our own Admin Account has problems and becomes corrupted, we can salvage our files and settings by booting into Safe Mode where the System Administrator Account unhides itself, log into that account and creating a new profile, (account), and copying the data from the corrupted to the new account.

The trouble is, this isn't written down anywhere when we first start the system and unless we know, we don't do that.

We also recommend a 2nd Admin Capable account as a 2nd backup.

Can you tell us what accounts you have on this system?


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by dmd0705 / February 12, 2012 7:35 AM PST
In reply to: Didn't work

The battery issue is because the battery is I"ve had desktop PC's for years and years but this was my first laptop so I didn't know it wasn't a good idea to leave the power plugged in and therefore I killed my battery. It only has enough left in it to walk about 20 feet so I have to keep the power plugged in all the time. So If I move the laptop to another location it goes dead before I can plug it in.
I have Windows XP Pro SP3 on a Dell laptop Inspiron 1720, The only account I have is me as the admin. Can you instruct me as to how to add a second admin account? Never had to do that before.
No recent changes and this has been going on a very long time. I just got to the point where it was driving me crazy and had to find a solution:) IE8 Is installed but I don't use IE much. I prefer Firefox and Google Chrome. Hardly ever open IE.
I only attach printer or other peripherals when needed so no permanent USB peripherals.
I have McAfee installed as well as Malwarebytes. Both were installed and working fine when I didn't have this issue. I do use RegOpt occasionally but the problem existed before I download that program.
I have an Intel Core2 Duo T7250 2.00 GHz with 3 GB of RAM
HD is 200GB only 32GB used. I just reformatted not too long ago. I had Vista and had issues with it so put XP Pro on it and all the correct XP drivers etc.
I didn't have this problem with Vista but had so many other issues that I felt XP Pro was a better option.
I think I answered everything. If I missed something let me know. Thanks again:)

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Ahh, Great Clues there!
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 12, 2012 8:00 PM PST
In reply to: Info

Please, remove that battery as soon as possible.

If the battery is not charging with the charging adapter connected then it would seem the battery has failed. Keeping that battery connected can damage the circuits in the laptop.

A new battery is likely required, and we always suggest only the replacement batteries recommended by the laptop's maker. Cheaper 3rd party ones have caused problems in the past, with some batteries catching fire.

The next big clue is Vista to XP after a reformat. Although you say you installed all the correct drivers we know from others here that installing XP on newer machines is often problematical. However, if you tell me that you used the Dell web site with this machine's Service Tag to get all the drivers for XP for this Vista machine then perhaps that would be fine.

Admin accounts;

If you never created your own Admin capable account I fear you have problems, because as soon as you create a new Admin account, (Start > Control Panel > Users, Create new account), this "System Administrator Account" will hide and become unavailable when you reboot and log in to the new account. It will still be available in the system's Safe Mode, but that is no way to use this laptop except for troubleshooting and diagnosing problems.

That means all your programs and settings will need to be reinstalled and re-made respectively. But with XP you will at least be able to access all your personal files for the System Administrator Account in the "Documents and Settings" folders.

Those problems aside, I think you need to do this because with only one Admin capable account your use of this XP laptop is on a knife edge and if anything happens to this account you are stuck with only the Guest account within which you can do very little.

The guidance to do that is in the link below from Microsoft. But I add my own suggestions below because you are still using the System Administrator Account.

How to copy data from a corrupt profile to a new profile - Use the section that starts at, Create a new user profile on the workgroup computer and not a Domain computer (which is part of a network, usually in an office, and administered centrally).

The purpose of this is to treat your current and only Admin account as corrupted because of this Active Desktop problem. If removing the dead battery doesn't solve the problem, (I don't see how it would), then this is the last option I can think of besides a "Repair Install" or reinstall.


1] Backup all your personal files. Creating a new account shouldn't lose those, but how many times has that been said only for something to go wrong!

2] If you use email client software, (Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc), instead of web mail, make a note of email settings, and for good measure export your email folders to some external device. Don't forget your Address Book/Contacts. Microsoft mentions OE anyway in that link, so this is also a preferred step.

3] Backup, (export), your browser bookmarks and any passwords/login details.

4] In User Accounts create Two New Admin Capable accounts. Why 2? We need one to copy the profile to, but we need the other to actually do the work. So for the sake of these steps I will call the first account Admin1 and the second Admin2 but you choose your own names.

5] Reboot and log into Admin1. As soon as you get to the Welcome Screen you will see that the account you've been using is not displayed.

6] Follow the guidance in the Microsoft article from "Copy files to the new user profile" to copy everything from the System Administrator Account to Admin2.

7] DO NOT delete Admin1 as suggested by Microsoft. Having a 2nd Admin capable account is a good idea if ever the main account you will now use ever has problems.

Cool However, I would recommend you password protect all accounts, including the hidden System Administrator Account. Don't forget all these passwords. It may be that no-one other than you and your husband uses this system, but even so, using passworded accounts is still a good security measure. You can add passwords to all 3 Admin accounts in Users in the CP.

I hope all of that helps, and particularly that it solves the Active Desktop problem.

Good luck.


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I will....
by dmd0705 / February 14, 2012 9:25 AM PST

I will do all this probably tomorrow and get back to you. Thanks so much for all this help.
One thing, though..are you sure I have to take the battery out because now I can't even walk from one room to the other without it shutting off. I used to be able to almost run and get it plugged back in before it shut down:( Now every time I move it's an automatic reboot.
I can't buy a new battery because I lost my job so I can't spend a dime now. I thought you might be wondering why I didn't just buy a new battery so I thought I would explain.
Thanks again.

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I wonder if I have misunderstood.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 14, 2012 7:58 PM PST
In reply to: I will....

Sorry but I got the impression that the battery had failed and wasn't charging, and that with the battery inserted, every time you moved the laptop it failed and shutdown.

Did I misunderstand that?


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You didn't misunderstand but....
by dmd0705 / February 15, 2012 3:22 AM PST

The battery is probably 99% dead if that's possible. If I move to another location, once I close the lid on the laptop and unplug it I have just enough power to get from one place to another, if I walk fast enough, and plug it in fast. Now that I've removed it, it of course, shuts down immediately once the plug is removed from the outlet. So now I have to shut the computer down and go through the whole rebooting process plus fixing the desktop:(
Every once in a while the desktop comes up normal without the white Active Desktop Recovery screen but it's totally random and doesn't seem to depend on a clean shut down or a shut down due to lack of power...makes no sense.
Last night I did a clean shut down and this morning there was that white screen again. I have no clue!!!!

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Such a battery could hasten the laptop's end.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 15, 2012 3:25 AM PST

Given the story I can only hope you knew about that and are ready for the rather shocking repair bill that I see when the power circuits on the main board fail because some old battery was left in service.

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Tell your computer how to shut down when you close the lid
by RobertDiGi / February 23, 2012 5:00 PM PST
In reply to: Mark...

Go to Start/settings/control panel/power options/Advanced. You can tell the computer to hibernate, stand by or do nothing when you close the lid. It's probably set to do nothing, so the computer keeps running the battery down, which seems to be much of your problem. Set it to HIBERNATE. The computer will write the contents of memory to the drive and then shut down. Next day, the computer will come up faster than from a cold boot, with the battery at the same level as when you closed the lid, and whatever you were working on will come right up. That will make your battery last longer, too.

You should shut the computer off completely (SHUT DOWN) occasionally so that the computer gets a clean boot.

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by dmd0705 / February 16, 2012 9:59 AM PST

It wouldn't let me post below so I hope you see this:) I didn't know that about the battery but I took it out as soon as you suggested that I do. It's just a real pain to have to shut down and reboot all the time but I have no option.
Haven't had a chance to do the other things but I will and let you know.:)

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Try an alternative
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 16, 2012 7:24 PM PST
In reply to: Battery

to shutdown.

Try Hibernate. The differences between Sleep and Hibernate are explained here;

And how to set XP to hibernate is explained here;

Before you make your first attempt, (if you decide to try), a proviso.

Placing a laptop into Sleep mode needs a continuous source of power; it is just a trickle but it is still needed because all documents and settings are stored in RAM which would clear if the power was interrupted. However, Hibernate creates a file called "hiberfil.sys" and stores this on the hard drive. This file includes the same documents, settings and memory that RAM would have in sleep. Then Windows shuts down. When you restart Windows it reads this file and boots up faster than a normal boot up.

The proviso is this. That Microsoft article suggests that "Of all the power-saving states in Windows, hibernation uses the least amount of power". I find that a little ambiguous in that if it said, "hibernate draws no power" it would have been much clearer. I still think hibernate draws no power.

So, before using Hibernate, as a precaution the first time, create a couple of test documents and open a couple of applications, eg a browser session, etc anyway, don't close them down, and then hibernate. Then when you restart after a move, see if anything is lost.

If not, hibernate works the way I have assumed.

This is a workaround and not a very satisfactory one I know, but until you can get a new battery it is the best option I can think of. We've seen horror stories in these forums where dead batteries have caused spikes that can damage the motherboard. It is not a certainty, but the risk is to be avoided if possible.

Good luck.


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