AMD Phenom 9600 Quad-core CPU.
nVidia 8800 GTX
Hitachi 400GB SATA2 harddrive
Windows XP Professional w/ SP2
Other stuff that probably doesn't matter.
I've been an avid supporter of the Firefox web browser and as a result have been playing around with Minefield, the betas for 3.0. I've been having several unexplainable crashes in the program, and in some cases it leads to a blue screen of death, with the 0x00000024 stop error listing a fault in ntfs.sys. I've Googled a few hits on why this might be, and Microsoft's own website insists this can only happen when there is corruption on the harddrive, or other defects in the file system. Well I call bullshit since this setup is essentially brand new - and I was having the same problems before upgrading. I've run chkdsk /r already, as advised, and the drive checks out clean. It should, being brand new and all.
I did some more digging and was researching processes running on the system at the time when I came across the ctfmon.exe file running. There are conflicting reports about whether this is spyware or legit, but that doesn't matter. Apparently it's supposed to be part of the Microsoft Office package and deals with alternative text input. Since I don't install Office, and don't need these alternatives, I killed the process. Lo and behold, the system stopped acting quirky. I got entirely stable operation for the remainder of the day, when this crash would rise up and bite me in the ass several times without warning.
It doesn't end there though. Further poking around verified my initial hunch - that somehow the Minefield beta is interfering with this process that otherwise runs in the background and never causes a problem. So I tried an alternate approach. I switched to using the latest public Opera browser for two days. Again, the system experienced no instability and had no crash issues of any kind. The next day, I fired up Minefield and within 20 minutes got slammed with another blue screen of death that had been preceded by dozens of browser crashes which all generated bug reports and sent them in. I reported this on the Mozillazine forums in at least two posts, asking to see if anyone else could replicate it. I got absolutely no response, which is typical of folks there. It seems the folks there are simply not interested in hearing it, despite numerous bug reports generated by Breakpad - the crash reporting utility in Minefield. It should also be noted that Firefox 2.0 does not exhibit this problem.
Anyway, I did a bit more digging around on Google and figured out that ctfmon.exe was installed by the IE7 upgrade. Great. I don't even use the browser for anything other than web development and skin testing and this is the thanks I get. Great job Bill. Now go die in a fire. I also found out that it's part of the advanced text services for the regional and language functions, which led me to a method to disable the ctfmon.exe process once and for all. Since having done this the system has returned to normal stability and it's not being launched anymore in the background when I boot up. So I shall now share with you how to put this one to bed.
First, head on over to the control panel, and double click the "Regional and Language Options" icon:
Next, click the languages tab, and hit the details button:
On the next window, hit the advanced tab, and then check the box that says "Turn off advanced text services":
Once that's done, click OK to exit any open windows, close the control panel, and then verify through your task manager that ctfmon.exe is no longer running. For me this seems to have corrected the problem entirely. No more bizarre crashes and no more blue screens of death claiming my ntfs.sys driver is corrupted.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil
Well. I guess that's that then.
Go figure, you knew Vista had to have an advantage hidden in it somewhere.