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Unexplained random system lock-ups


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#1
raqr

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Periodically over the past few weeks to a month, my system has been locking up completely, at random times, and I am not sure whether it is a software conflict, an internal system problem, a virus, bad hardware, or something else. At times it locks up even before startup, sometimes after a few hours, sometimes a few minutes. First, my tower will make the normal-sounding [this is going to sound stupid but i don't know how else to put it] computer "thinking" noise, such as that you hear when Windows first boots up. This noise then stops abruptly with a barely perceptible "click" and then silence. Then the icons stop working [meaning, they don't do anything when clicked on - they don't even highlight], and a few seconds later the keyboard and mouse stop functioning and "lock up" as well. All this happens in the span of approximately thirty seconds. The computer does not shut off, it simply stops working, and because I have no access to the Start menu after the lockup, I must then manually turn off the computer without going through shutdown. I'm sure this isn't helping the problem, but it is really the only thing I can do, as far as I know. Ctrl+Alt+Del does not work either.

Usually, this problem occurs when I am executing one or more of the following: Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, ITunes, PCTV Vision [a television card for the PC], or MSN Explorer with Verizon. [Not all at the same time, but occasionally one or two are running simultaneously.]

I have a Compaq Presario system with an additional slave hard drive and a recently replaced power supply/fan. I'm running Windows XP, and McAfee Personal Firewall and Antivirus. I am, however, concerned because I am currently at college and I know that new viruses often spread easily through college networks. I don't know if a virus would do this to my computer, but perhaps someone has heard of my computer's symptoms and knows what might be causing it... Also, last week my father and I erased the hard drive and started over from our original system boot disks. It unfortunately did not fix the problem. I have also tried to disable any extraneous unfamiliar processes using the Task Manager [i do know which ones NOT to close. :whistling: ]. This did not affect the problem either. I am shocked that I was able to use my computer for the amount of time needed to write this message.

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.. final papers are approaching!
Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you SO much.

Edited by raqr, 30 March 2006 - 05:52 PM.

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#2
SRX660

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I had this problem with a athlon puter i built. It would even lock up when i was in the BIOS. It would just freeze and shutoff was the only thing i could do. My problem was a power supply that had a low voltage 12 volt line. After tearing everything apart a few times i finally replaced the cheap PS with a good thermotake one and its never had a problem like that in 3 months now. Funny thing was i ran the puter 3 or 4 months just fine before it started locking up. It may not be your problem but it could be.

SRX660
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#3
raqr

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That was actually the first thing i thought it might be, but I kind of dismissed it because it was a pretty new power supply. Makes sense though, it might be the wrong kind, I'll check on that. Thanks for the reply!
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#4
fleamailman

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Hi, you are the second person in as many days to have this problem with compaq, I think you have 3 cds to install everything with. My suggestion is: without using your 3 cds, borrow a copy of XP home from a friend and do a repair with it.

Also, and in the case of it not being the above, could you download system specs, scan and postback the log, the program is stand alone and free.

http://www.alexnolan...are/sysspec.htm
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#5
WinCrazy

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The symptoms seem like a hardware problem. Try checking

1) the power supply with Everest Home Free. Look under Computer > Sensor to read the power supply voltages. All should be within +/- 5% of their nominal voltages. Pay close attention to the +3.3V, +5V and the +12V readings.;

2) The memory with Memtest86 (free). No errors should appear while letting it run for 3 complete test cycles;

3) the hard drive with the Hitachi Drive Fitness Check (free).

Hopefully you will be able to run the box long enough in order to install and run Everest. The other 2 utilities require booting from CDs that you previously burned using the downloaded ISO disk images. A burning program such as Roxio or Nero can be used to burn ISO image files If you don't have these or something similar you can download and use CDBurnerXP Pro (free, of course !). The downloading and burning is best done from a fully functional computer.
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#6
raqr

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Thank you both for your suggestions, i will get right on them and let you know how it goes..

fleamailman, which three CDs are you referring to? The system recovery cds? I actually had burned six when I first got the computer.. they were all installed successfully. Should I still download the program you recommended? What does it do?

Thanks again
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#7
fleamailman

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system specs is a program I use in the shop a lot, first of all being stand alone their is no install, just double click and press scan, then you can print or copy and afterwards there is no uninstall either, great if kept on a usb key but not as good as others which you have to install belirec advisor, but back to the problem, you see I cannot say for sure until I see that scan but I am with WinCrazy in thinking that it is most probably some hardware fault, and I don't know of any malware that can get passed reformating the computer so you are safe from that, no it is more likely to be either tempature, ram, or a system in need of a repair from a different XP cd.
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#8
raqr

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Well, unfortunately, no luck. Burned all suggested programs to a cd on my roommate's computer, turned on my computer, put in the cd... and it locked up as soon as it started trying to read the cd. Oddly, I could still hear the CDROM reading the cd even after nothing else would work. Sigh. Then I tried leaving the cd in when rebooting, and it locked up at the "welcome" screen. Took the cd out, was able to go online, went to this site to try to just download the programs to the computer, and it locked up while i was scrolling down the page. I give up. I'll take it home next weekend to replace the power supply [i have a few extras], so hopefully that'll solve the problem; if not i'll probably be back. Thanks for all your help, though!!

EDIT:

Just did a little more research on the power supply. I looked at the back of the box, where the power supply was, and saw that right now it's set to 110V. In the manual, it says it should be set to 115V. I don't know how to change it, so i'm not about to undertake that, it looked like there was a switch thingy [that was where i saw the "110V"] but what i thought might be a switch wouldn't move, so i wasn't about to force it.

Just in case the currently installed power supply isn't actually capable of 115V for some reason... would any 115V power supply work on my computer? [it's a Compaq Presario SR1012NX Desktop PC] Or should I have a certain type or brand?

Edited by raqr, 02 April 2006 - 11:42 AM.

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#9
fleamailman

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Do you have a USB key, if that opens then syspec should work as it is double click and non install, good luck, btw what happens when you try that cd in safemode.

Safemode is normally
press F8 a few times just beofore the first XP screen, or it can be F5,

I perfer safemode from msconfig
when the computer is on
press windows botton and r botton
type msconfig
mousemove: boot.ini
click the box: safemode
(unclick the same box to return to the normal screen)
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#10
mcpscomp

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It sound like hardware / heat problem to me.What I would try is
-open the case and do a good cleaning job on all the heat sinks and boards.
-pull power cables off all the drives including CD except main HD.
-reset bios to default
-blow a fan to the machine with open case and
-boot machine back up in safe mode
-go to device managerment disable all not needed devices like sound card, networks card.....except video.

Now wait to see if your machine will last( I don't thing it will but hope anyway). If it looks good then one by one re-enable devices then if it still looks good you can one by one plug drives back to the system(remember to do this only when system off and power cord off the wall).
About the power supply thing, don't worry about it. 110, 115 or 120 will all do the job. unless it set to 220, 230 or240.
Although I still think about your CPU or Main board give way.
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#11
raqr

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I don't know what a USB key is or if I have one, honestly..I have USB outlets but I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant. I'll try running the program in safemode though.

Wait, so, mcpscomp, you mean the problem is more likely my CPU or motherboard? What is bios and how would I reset it?

Thanks a million for the advice. I'll get back to you next weekend, i'm going to leave the nitty-gritty hardware cleaning stuff to my dad, he knows a lot more about it than I do.
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#12
fleamailman

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Sorry, there are so many names for them, pendrive, flashdrive, etc., but they are those little finger like things one can store data on. But in any case it was to find out the problem and I think mcpscomp has nailed it far better than I ever could.

Edited by fleamailman, 02 April 2006 - 03:58 PM.

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#13
mcpscomp

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If you don't really comfortable then don't go to bios. Or get there then write every setting down before any change will get you to the safe side.
But Anyway, most of the machine will let you get there by hold DEL key while machine booting up. If not, more than likely you will see intruction on bootom of the first boot up screen and you will have only couple of seconds to read and act. Once you get there, use arrow keys to navigate and difference keys to work( there will be instrustion for which keys doing what on screen for you). Look for DEFAULT option or some thing similar to it, Enter and choose SAVE TO BIOS then reboot.
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