I'm wondering if anyone can help me fix my Ubuntu OS. I've tried a number of things with no success, but I'm no expert.
Set Up: Dell Inspiron 15 laptop running Ubuntu 16.04 (specifically 'Ubuntu, with Linux 4.4.0-142-generic' according to GRUB)
The Problem: When I start my computer it reaches the log-in screen ok, but after I log in, the screen goes blank for quite a while. After this, it displays my desktop, but without the Ubuntu interface like the bars at the top and the bottom. The screen flashes 'on' and 'off' every second or so, so it alternates between a blank black screen, and my desktop. My email client usually successfully opens at this point, and I can click through the emails. But I can't do anything else, the terminal won't open, I can't access any other programs.
What I've tried: After reading through some other forum posts for similar issues I thought that booting in recovery mode and performing 'fsck' which I have seen mentioned elsewhere might fix it.
I can open the GRUB menu immediately after switching my laptop on, before the log in screen, by pressing ESC. I can select 'advanced options' and then 'Ubuntu, with Linux 44.4.0-142-generic (recovery mode) '. When I do this, the computer goes through the recovery mode boot process, with information scrolling on the screen. But at no point do I get an additional menu with options like mentioned in this article: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/RecoveryMode, or any kind of prompt at which I could enter something like 'fsck'. After going through the recovery mode process I am taken back to the log in screen, but after I log in the screen flashing and not-being-able-to-do-anything problem persists. I've tried this a number of times and the result is the same.
I appreciate this is a complex problem, but any help would be greatly appreciated. I would like to avoid having to do a factory reset and losing my data. Thank you!