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My Computer Keeps Crashing... Reasons?


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#1
ewufan

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Hi-

My computer keeps crashing during operations like burning Cd's/DVD's and playing certain games. It simply shuts itself off. Sometimes my computer will stay on, but I won't be able to open any applications and the start menu is completely blank of programs. A lot of the time, my computer sounds like the fans are having issues, but I have plenty of them and they are working properly.

When my computer shuts down after playing a game, XP says on the restart something about "threads" being stuck? Maybe a video card issue? XP doesn't recognize a problem when it shuts down after trying to burn a DVD/CD.

What is my issue here? Please help!

This is my computer's specs:

Windows XP - SP2
Pentium 4 3.00ghz
1 gb RAM
200gb HDD - (2 seperate)
RADEON X300/X550 Series
Xtreme Sound PCI Sound Card
Running a wireless card
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#2
computerwiz12890

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Sounds like you are having a RAM issue. When burning a CD or DVD, the RAM is used extensively, which would explain why it crashes often during those activities. And since you have so much RAM (1 GB) it does not necessarily use the section that is damaged/corrupt.

Let's see if we can determine with a certainty that that is the case:

Download Stress Prime

After you download it, double-click on it (which opens the CAB that it is in) and drag the program to your desktop. Now you can run it. Click on the drop-down box at the top and select Large, in-place FFTs - stress RAM and click Start

If it detects a fatal error, it will stop automatically and then report it. Or it may even cause your computer to restart or show an error. Let me know if either of those happen.

Otherwise, stop the scan after about 30 minutes, and then in the window at the bottom, it may say if any errors/warnings were detected. Let me know what it says.

Edited by computerwiz12890, 10 January 2007 - 10:08 PM.

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#3
ewufan

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Ok, I ran the program... it shut my computer down within 2 minutes of running. No progress report or XP critical error reason. What can this mean? Is my computer overheating even though I have a couple of fans running on it or is my RAM damaged/corrupt? Thanks
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#4
computerwiz12890

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It could be overheating, but most likely it is damaged RAM. However, it would be best to check the Temperatures so we don't fix the wrong thing.

Turn your computer on and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you want to use your computer during this period of time, you can. After that amount of time, do this:

Download Speed Fan and install it.

Start Speed Fan. When it is fully loaded, take a screen shot of the first screen by pressing Print Screen/SysRq on your keyboard. Open Paint and paste. Save the screenshot as a JPEG and post it in a reply to me. Now click on the tab called S.M.A.R.T.. Select your hard drive by using the drop-down box at the top. Now take a screenshot of that as well. Post it in your reply to me as well.

NOTE: For certain computers, Speed Fan will not display accurate measurements. If the temperature wildly fluctuates or doesn't change at all, let me know, otherwise I will believe the mesurements are accurate.
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#5
ewufan

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Here are the screenshots... I ran the computer for a half an hour or so.

Posted Image

Posted Image
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#6
computerwiz12890

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Everything looks good in there. Temps are excellent. Voltages are normal. Hardrive in prime condition.

I'm almost 100% certain it is damaged/defective RAM that is bugging you now. How old is your computer? Did you add any RAM recently? It is not unheard of for RAM to be defective right out of the box...

If you want, there's another RAM test that can confirm even further if that's the problem. However this RAM tester lets a few bad ones by...

Or we can start talking about replacing it, your choice.


While I await your response, please run Stress Prime again and see if it will crash again after 2 minutes or so. Do it twice. Give it up to 30 minutes if necessary. Preferably right after a cold boot (after it's been off a while.) This will rule out overheating completely, even though Speed Fan reported it fine.

Edited by computerwiz12890, 11 January 2007 - 09:09 PM.

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#7
ewufan

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Ok- I ran the stress prime program again and ran the speedfan program again. The temp was significantly higher (up to 87 degrees c at one point). The stress prime program restarted my computer after about 30-40 seconds. I restarted my computer and did a screen shot of the speed fan program. It was significantly different then before:

Posted Image


I was running SpeedFan in the background and I was starting to get some temps that have been increasingly bumped up. I have only been doing some internet surfing (thats all I can do without my computer dying on me) I'm starting to think there are 2 problems: bad RAM and poor temps :whistling:

What do you think? Thanks again btw!

Edited by ewufan, 11 January 2007 - 11:11 PM.

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#8
computerwiz12890

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I think we need to investigate the heat issue.

(up to 87 degrees c at one point).

Did it slowly get there, or just jump up to 87 degrees? Not all sensor readings are accurate, and if it jumped from 70 to that, I highly doubt that's accurate.

And did you run Stress Prime after a cold boot (when the computer was off for a while)? If so, did it crash right away? Because if it did, then that would definately point to RAM, because it would not overheat that fast.


In any case, let's open up your computer and check it out. After opening the side, lay it flat on the floor where the open side is facing up, and the computer can still be plugged into power. Turn it on while it is open, and look inside to see if all the fans are spinning. Don't forget about the power supply fan in the back where you plugged up the power cord.

Also, make note of how much space is in your computer. Can air flow easily? Or is there wires jumbled up everywhere? You may need to organize it a bit (with the computer unplugged from power of course) and help get the wires out of the way to help air flow.

Also, while you have it open, might as well give it a good cleaning with a can of compressed air. :whistling:

NOTE: When cleaning with compressed air, if you clean the fans of your computer, don't shoot a steady stream of air on them, you could make them spin much faster than they were designed to go, and thus wear them out. Give short quick bursts instead.
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#9
ewufan

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I think the temp reading jumped to 87 degrees. It was difficult to tell because the program was only running for less than a minute when stress prime shut down my computer.

I just ran stress prime again after my computer was off for 10+ hours. My computer shut down after 1 minute and 20 seconds or so.

I opened the computer up with the power on. The fan on the video card and processor appear to be working properly. The power supply fan also seems to be working. I have an exhaust fan on the side of my computer and an exhaust fan on the top of my computer that are both working properly.

The wires seem to be out of the way of everything. The video card is in a slot with nothing around it. The 2 hard drives have a large space in between them. My computer was not very dusty either.
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#10
ewufan

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Ok, now my computer wont start up at all... I had the computer running for about a hour. I was playing a simple flash game on the internet and my computer shut down. No big deal, it happens all the time lately. I turned on my computer to restart it and it came up with the blue screen asking me which mode I wanted to start windows in. I selected "start windows normally" and my computer shut down, twice. This is starting to frusterate me even more than it was before.
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#11
computerwiz12890

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I'm 100% sure it is the RAM now. By running Stress Prime over and over, no doubt we've worn it out a bit more.

Time to replace!

If you manage to get your computer online, have it scanned at http://www.crucial.com

Let me know what type of RAM they recommend for you (such as PC2700, 266 MHz, DDR RAM)

If you are unable to get it online again, you'll have to take that stick of RAM out and look to see what it says on there. There should be a sticker or something that tells you what type it is. If not, I will need to know your motherboard's brand and model number. This should be printed on the motherboard somewhere too, possibly a sticker. Wish I could be more specific, but it is different from MB to MB. If this is a store bought computer, you could give me the brand and model number and I can look it up. Of course all of this is not necessary if you are able to scan it at crucial.com.



NOTE: If you have to go the route of removing the stick of RAM, make sure you are using an anti-static wrist strap, or you have discharged all static electricity by touching the metal part of the computer case. Even the slightest amount of static electricity (an amout that CANNOT be felt) can permanently damage a computer's equipment.

In addition, make sure you physically unplug the computer from its power source.

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#12
ewufan

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OK- I can't get my computer to start right now. I did manage to get the crucial download to work. I pulled both sticks of the memory. It is DDR 400 (2 sticks of 512mb). The crucial download thing told me I had 2 sticks of 256mb. My computer properties said I had 1gb of memory. So I guess that shows I do have a problem with my memory.

My motherboard is an ESC RS400-A

My mother borad has 2 different slots for DDR2 667 ram and DDR 400. I have no idea what those mean. When getting new memory, should I get the 400 or the 667? I think I will stay with 2 sticks of 512, but if there are some good deals on 2 sticks of 1gb I might do that. Let me know what would be the best for my computer.

Edited by ewufan, 12 January 2007 - 05:24 PM.

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#13
computerwiz12890

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ahh excellent excellent! 2 sticks of RAM gives us something to work with. :whistling:

Put 1 stick in, just one. Boot the computer up. If successful, run Stress Prime right away. If it crashes, that stick is bad. If not after 15 minutes, put it to the side as a good stick.

Take the other one a put it in. Boot up the computer. Do the same thing. If either boot or Stress fails, then you've found the bad stick. If it fails for both, then looks like you got two bad sticks :help:

Let me know how it goes. Hopefully we'll just have to replace one :blink:
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#14
ewufan

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Ok. 1 stick got to the XP startup screen and shut down quickly. The other stick let my computer run, but shut down within 4 seconds of running stress prime. So this sounds like both sticks are bad? That sucks... well now both of the sticks are not letting the computer run. Not so good.
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#15
computerwiz12890

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Indeed. :blink:

Is this what your motherboard looks like?

Motherboard photo

If so, it supports both DDR 400 and DDR2 667 (just like you said). The second one is the faster one.


I'd go to Office Depot or Best Buy to purchase some RAM. There is a slim chance that it is actually the Motherboard that is damaged, which for most people means it's time for a new computer. So I'd rather you buy the RAM from a local store than off the net (that way you can return it easily). Here's exactly what you'd need:

RAM from Office Depot

You don't have to buy that specific one. All you have to do when you get to the store is ask if they have DDR 400MHz/PC3200 RAM or DDR2/667MHz RAM. Your best setup would be DDR2 (since it is newer, though I don't know how much better) and if you are a gamer, I'd say 2 GB. If not really a big gamer, 1 GB is plenty enough. :whistling:

Edited by computerwiz12890, 12 January 2007 - 09:36 PM.

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