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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Mice ]

The mouse is stuttering, sticking or moving in a jerky fashion

Explanation: The mouse's motion is not smooth and fluid the way it used to be or the way it should be. When you move the mouse it tends to jump around or stutter, stops moving unless you shake it, or moves in a jerky fashion (the pointer seems to pause between redraws on the screen for example).

Diagnosis: There are four main causes of this sort of behavior. The first is a dirty mouse, which can cause spurious behavior in a number of ways. The second is a resource conflict with another device. The third is damage to the mouse cord caused by excessive bending of the cord, especially near where it attaches to the mouse. The fourth is a problem with the mouse driver, although this is much less likely.


  • Check the mouse to make sure that it is not physically sticking. Clean the mouse.
  • Try using a mouse pad instead of your desk (or other surface) for rolling the mouse. In many cases the surface the mouse is on is actually the problem. Using a mouse pad allows the mouse to roll smoothly. (I have, however, seen desks that worked better without one.)
  • There may be a resource conflict, especially with regard to an IRQ channel. This is especially true of serial mice, because of the fact that serial COM port pairs 1 and 3, and 2 and 4, share IRQ lines. See here for more on resource conflicts regarding serial ports.
  • Check the mouse cord to see if it is frayed or becoming loose. If you see cracks in the plastic housing of the cord, this is a sign that this may be your problem. If you have a soldering iron and patience, you can fix the problem, but replacing the mouse is normally the action of choice here.
  • There may be a bad driver associated with this mouse. It is unlikely that this is the case (since mice are such simple affairs) but is it possible.

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