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Unknown problem - 2-3 boot failures + freezes during AVG scan

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Hello. I'm back again with yet another computer problem. This website has always been very helpful for me. This problem seems fairly vague and I don't know how to sum up the symptoms easily so I'll just tell a "story" based on the notes I've been taking for the past few days:

A few days ago, when I woke up in the morning, my computer failed to boot properly. Note that I had been using it for months, and had used it the previous night, with no problems. It's a Lenovo T61 Thinkpad running Windows XP Professional 5.1.
By "failed to boot properly," I mean the following: Windows began to run, but the system tray did not load fully. I tried a few programs and they would not run. In fact, if I remember correctly, the task manager wouldn't even run. Two icons did show in the system tray, but unfortunately I didn't write down what they were.

Chkdsk.exe (which ran at startup since I held the power button a few times and tried starting the machine again) did a bunch of stuff, not all of which I was able to get down. If it made a log, I wouldn't know where to find it. The first time, it deleted several corrupt attribute records, deleted index entry WAM.sys, and recovered a bunch of "lost files", in addition to some other stuff. The second time, it didn't find anything in stage 1, but in stage 2 it made several changes, most of which looked like "correcting error in index $I30 for file 104000" with only the file number changing and "recovering orphaned file".

Then I called a tech support person through my university. He told me WAM.sys was probably some form of spyware so it was good that the system found it, but he didn't know specifically what might have been going on. As I was talking to him I tried to boot again, and it booted completely. I was able to run several programs that I tried including my web browser. He suggested I run ad-aware and spybot and my virus scan (which is AVG).

I started with AVG. The blue screen of death appeared some time into the scan, saying "Kernel_data_inpage_error". When I rebooted, chkdsk changed almost nothing.
I tried to run AVG again, this time with the internet disconnected, but it froze (again). I wasn't around when it actually froze, since it did it about 45 min to an hour into the scan.
Repeat with both internet AND screensaver disabled (just trying things). Same symptom, also about 45 min to an hour into the scan.

Then I tried the other two scans. I actually had to download ad-aware and spybot because this is a relatively new computer and I got lazy about the spyware scanners. But they both downloaded and installed fine. I ran full ad-aware and spybot scans with no problems, and deleted several months buildup of tracking cookies (of course). Nothing really serious was found in either scan.
One time (I forgot exactly where in the process this occurred) Ad-aware had an error right when I started the program, but I think it was just because I accidentally double clicked the icon twice. Here's the error message anyway:
"Component: TLVfocus Control
Message: Access violation at address 00557f17 in module Ad-Aware2007.exe. Read of address 00000004."
(My handwriting is messy on the word "read" - it doesn't make sense to me, so maybe I got that word wrong from the message)

Today I tried AVG a few more times.
First I tried it in safe mode. It failed after 50 minutes or more. I think now that these all failed at the same time, but I'm being vague about exactly when because I wasn't paying attention.
When I tried again it said the last scan was terminated at a certain file, but I now believe that was from a previous scan I had run and terminated myself before it got to the problem spot. The listed file was from Adobe Photoshop elements and was just a .jpg which I was able to find and open with no problems. (I don't think it actually created a log all the times it was stopped by the BSoD, so it wouldn't have a record of when it was terminated.)

AVG again - yes, I know this is getting repetitive. Again I forgot to watch it when the problem spot was approaching. It listed the same adobe file as the place where it was terminated, so I clicked the button to scan from that file on. It did so, and still froze after a while.

It still said the place where it ended was the adobe file. I started a scan and stopped it immediately (accident). (This is relevant because after the next failed scan, it said it was stopped at desktop.ini, which I think is one of the first files it scans. I think that indicates that the adobe file was also unrelated to the error.)

Then I tried a scan outside of safe mode and watched it beginning at about 45 minutes. At just over an hour it terminated to the blue screen. The last file I was able to catch a glimpse of was in C:\VSTCol\VitalBook Library......
The folders above that in C (it scans in reverse alphabetical order, right?) are VALUEADD, System Volume Information.

AVG does always find this one thing before it wigs out - a change to "windows\system32\shell32.dll". This seems to be a common thing in AVG though, according to other forums. I did a search for shell32.dll in windows explorer and found several instances in other locations, all of which seemed normal.

That's the "story". Sorry it's so long. I'm concerned about the failed boots, although those seem to have stopped happening, and I'm using my computer like normal now. I'm also concerned that AVG is not working.
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My computer still periodically freezes and reboots when I'm not around, often with no programs running except windows. I assume the issue is similar, since it gives me the fatal error message when I log in.

I wonder if anyone has any ideas?
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Cornelius, sorry we missed your initial Jan 6 post.

This sounds to me like failing/failed memory (RAM).

Download either of the following:

Microsoft Memory Diagnostic

Create a bootable diskette or CD then boot it and run the extended test for at least 3 passes, longer is better.

That should tell you if you have RAM problems or not.
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