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vista stops dead 3 minutes after startup. PLEASE HELP!

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I was hoping that someone could help us with a problem that has been infuriating us for several weeks. We got a new computer about 4 months ago which worked fine out of the box. Recently it's starting freezing about 3 minutes after boot up approximately 75% of the time. I'm running

Windows Vista home premium 64-bit build 6001: Service pack 1 on a Packard Bell desktop.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 running driver version
Sophos which hasn't found any viruses.

When I first installed SP2 my PC wouldn't stay up for long after boot but I managed to fix it by updating by graphics card driver. A couple of weeks later the real problems started.

When the computer starts everything works fine and any individual application can be started. However approximately 3 minutes after boot there's a good chance that the computer will jush hang. The mouse pointer still moves, but clicking, alt+tab or ctrl+alt+del have no effect. I have to turn off using the power button. I've tried running with the task manager visible and the clock showing and nothing else. The clock just stops but no new process appears in the task manager. The event log doesn't show any error before the computer hangs, just that the shut down was not clean. I have tried the following with out success

- uninstalling SP2.
- uninstalling NVIDIA drivers and reinstalling from scratch.
- deactivating all non essential programs in the startup menu.

Note that if the PC makes it past the 3 minute mark it works fine for hours. The computer starts fine in safe mode.

There is one thing that does seem to help, but not in any deterministic way. I have 3 * 2Gb of RAM. If I remove 2 of them the PC is much more likely to start. The PC ran fine for a while with one of the RAM cards removed, so I tried using just the trird stick to see if it was faulty and that started fine as well. Then I switched back to the first 2 sticks and the PC began hanging again. Sometimes it runs fine with all 3 sticks, other times if hangs 10 times in a row. I can't pin the problem on any particular piece of hardware or motherboard slot, but the PC seems more stable with less RAM.

Your help would be much appreciated. We're nearly ready to take the PC back to the shop and try to get our money back.


<gordyhunter> hi there
<gordyhunter> i have a problem and i was wondering if you could possibly help me?
<gordyhunter> my windows vista freezes 3 minutes after startup, if i remove 1 of the 2gb ram, this time increases to 4 minutes. But it is not a bad ram as i have replaced with new ram to test. Also, the hdd is good too as i have tried in another laptop. i have re-installed, restored- scanned for viruses- everything i can think of. please help?

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