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That happens to me very occasionally Dave usually (I think) because some piece of hardware hasn't woken up properly. Lord only knows with all the hardware attached to my machine internally and externally it's a miracle that there hasn't been some kind of disaster here.
Check connections, cords, couplings etc.
The last time it happened and would not disappear was when one of my hard drives failed, the time before that a power supply (PSU) was on the blink and I had to buy a new one in each case.
It could be a sign that something is failing as the system itself hasn't kicked in at that early stage.
You could try booting to Safe Mode screen and selecting "Last known good configuration" to see if that helps but I doubt it will. If you do, you'll have to update McAfee immediately once booted.
Ex_Brit, as always, thanks. I really hope it's not a failing hard drive. I've already run various tests on it and it's fine. I'm hoping it's a cable problem.
Since this is an intermittent problem it's difficult to track down.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that it's nothing serious.
I'll post a follow up. I use Advanced System Care, a clean up program of sorts. It also 'cleans up' and defrags the registry. I deselected the option for that program to clean up the registry and I haven't had a start up issue since.
I don't know for 100 percent if this is just a coincidence but for now I'm going to keep that option deselected.
I should add that even with the 'start up' problem, if I chose to ignore Windows Vista and bypass its warning, the computer started up just fine anyway.
I'm guessing that the Advanced System Care program renamed the last good registry backup and Vista didn't get the word ... or something like that. At any rate, everything seems to be fine ... and this is just a follow up.
Registry cleaners of any sort are not recommended by me from bitter experience. They end up causing more problems than they are supposed to fix.
So you are OK now and I'll lock this thread. Thanks for getting back to me.