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Random Lock Ups


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#31
Cooked_Electron

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This is trippy...mine just started doing pretty much what you guys are saying. I found this site by searching for computer help in this arena. My lockups are random as well. I can't duplicate them. My computer had worked totally fine and error free for the past 6 months since I built it. Can't do anything except hit the ol' restart button.

Here's what I've noticed as symptoms surrounding my mysterious lock-up:

- Happens during gaming, interneting or idling.
- USB Devices lose power and turn off. (ie. USB hub)
- Activity light on onboard NIC flickers constantly..and consequently flickers on Hub/Router too. But no activity on modem. (This one wierds me out.)

Keep ya posted,

Chris
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#32
blingin67

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If it just started happening and you haven't installed anything software or hardware wise, I would suggest looking at your motherboard for bad capacitors. I didn't experience any problems with USB drives or network cards, but then again, I didn't have any USB drives and I didn't have my network card hooked up.

However, I -did- buy a USB drive to use to back up my information before I formatted. I noticed that when I hooked up my USB drive, my computer would immediately lock up. The USB drive wouldn't lose power, but my drive plugs into an outlet in the wall, so it shouldn't lose power when the computer locks up anyways.

It's worth a shot to take the case off and look at the motherboard. If the capacitors around the CPU are bulged or have brown stuff on the top or bottom of them, then I'd be 90% sure it's the cause of your problem; and even if it isn't, they need to be replaced if they're bad, or else they'll soon be causing problems.

Edit: Reading over your post, the router and NIC activity also got my attention. Do you run anti-malware programs such as Spybot S&D and Lavasoft's AdAware, as well as anti-virus software? The activity of the NIC and router makes me wonder if someone hasn't compromised your computer and is using it for other purposes. That wouldn't explain the lockups, unless so much spyware has made its way onto your computer that it slows it down to the point of locking it up.

Edited by blingin67, 12 July 2005 - 12:05 AM.

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#33
macten

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I solved a tough lockup problem on a friend's pc awhile back. When I got it home, it wouldn't boot up. I installed a new psu and it booted right up and froze right after I logged into windows xp. I replaced/swapped out just about everything. Nothing worked.

So the trail led to the BIOS. Oh yeah I have Ultra-x diagnostics and they kept telling me that the hardware was fine. So I went into the BIOS and disabled just about everything and made a few other changes. I made a radical change to the 'cpu/memory/???' setting. It booted up and the problem was gone. I re-enabled things 2 at a time in the BIOS and the problem never came back.

I saw my friend the other day and the pc has been fine for 6 weeks now.

Which change in the bios solved the problem? I don't know. But I'm certain that in this case, the solution was in the bios....
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#34
blingin67

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Disregard my previous post, heh, I understand what you were saying now macten.

Edited by blingin67, 12 July 2005 - 12:12 AM.

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#35
macten

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I just read more of this thread and see that you solved it by soldering in 9 new capacitors. Wow! I read an article in Maximum PC awhile back about a ton of motherboards that were shipped with bad capacitors. I'm glad you got it fixed....
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#36
blingin67

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Yes, it would appear that there are various motherboard brands and types being affected by this. It seems to be a problem with the capacitors themselves and not faulty motherboards. While Abit does seem to be the most popular with this capacitor problem, it may be because of where Abit gets their capacitors or simply because of Abit's popularity and the number of motherboards they have out there.
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#37
Cooked_Electron

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Blingin,

I was concerned about some sort of system compromise as well. I ran a shite load of scans and found nothing. It's worth noting as well that even though there is NIC/Router activity, my cable modem remains idle. (no traffic).
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#38
Cooked_Electron

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Update,

I ran memtest86 from the ultimate boot cd. My memory shows a crap load of errors...so I'm gonna trouble shoot from there. I'll keep you posted. Once i'm in there I look at my capacitors as well.
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#39
blingin67

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If memtest86 shows errors with the memory, then memory is likely your problem. Do you have more than one stick of memory? If so, take all of them out except one and try it from there. If it doesn't work with one, try another one by itself. If it does work with one, add another one along with it and see if it works then. Basically, you just want to narrow it down to which memory stick it is that is causing the problem.

If you only have one memory stick, I'd suggest borrowing one from a friend and swapping out memory sticks.
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#40
Cooked_Electron

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I have two sticks of ram in my machine. I took one out...did the tests....found errors. Took that one out and put the other one in and had no errors. I went to staples...bought a new stick of ram. Replaced the crapped out one...and my comp has been freeze free for the past 4 days. Yay!
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#41
Delta3000

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Hi folks,

I too have stumbled across this page in search of an answer to my similar problem. It all started ocurring after a failed BIOS update from my system's manufacturer. The update failed due to a checksum error and reset to defaults. Unfortunately since my BIOS is OEM, I have very limited options inside it and cant find any of these HALT ON commands described here, although I doubt this being the problem as I only crash after boot and not during. I also uninstalled some programs around the time of the incident, and force some acess-denied .dll's to be removed, but they have since been replaced. I also installed SiSoft Sandra, which actually motivated me to getting a BIOS update. It advised me to get a new BIOS update, and one other point it mentioned was that my mainboard was too hot.

So far I've reinstalled every piece of hardware I have, updated with service packs, and finally reformatted. Before the reformat it happened constantly after 2 to 10 mins of uptime. Afterwards it happens mainly when I am exerting the CPU. So far I have 1hr uptime from reading your posts and searching other sites and not crashed. But I have checked CPU temps at crash point and they've been under 60 degrees each time, unless there has been a massive spike that wasn't caught by the 10second refresh time of Motherboard Monitor. I've cleaned the fan and the heatsink, and this doesn't help either, not to mention I had a very large fan blasting air over it before I reformatted. It might possibly be voltage related, but that stays constant before and during the crash (I'm not good at understanding voltage tbh).

I've ruled out a memory issue by testing each stick individually and swapping their places around. I've ran chkdsk and found no errors wth my drives. I really do think it must be CPU related due to the circumstances under which it crashes now but I'm stumped as to what I can do about it. Could anyone advise me on how to diagnose this further? I don't have access to another CPU to run tests unfortunately.

And Blingin, can you tell me what I should be looking for with the capacitors? Will they be bulging like an overfilled can of coke?

Sorry for my rather back to front post, I tend to forget the exact order in which I do things :S

Regards.

edit: having checked the event viewer, I'm getting a Service Control Manager error everytime I boot up. It is failing to load 'atapi' and 'PCIIde'. Will have a check around some sites for more info on this.

Edited by Delta3000, 07 August 2005 - 06:43 PM.

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#42
blingin67

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I don't know much about BIOS, so don't hold me to this, but I have heard that a failed BIOS flashing can permanently damage a motherboard. I believe this is why it is recommended that you only flash/update your BIOS only when you're having problems with it.

If all of this started happening after the failed BIOS update, I'd venture to say that this is your problem. And, if what I've heard is correct, it may be a permanent problem with the motherboard that can not be fixed. But, once again, my knowledge of the motherboard, its components, BIOS, etc. is very limited. I'd check with the techs here and/or do a Google search to find out what you can about failed BIOS updates.

In the meantime, let me see if I can help you rule out some other possibilities:

You reinstalled each piece of hardware, but did you try removing all unnecessary pieces of hardware? Modem, sound card, network card, etc. If any of these pieces of hardware have gone bad, they may be causing the lockups. I'd suggest booting up your PC with no drives (except the hard drive of course) and no unnecessary cards (if your motherboard doesn't have an onboard video chip, you'll have to use a video card, but I'd suggest using the onboard if there is one). If it still locks up, then you know it's either the HD, motherboard, CPU, memory, or power supply (or video card, if you have it connected for the test run).

You switched around the memory sticks that are currently in your PC, but did you swap them with known working ones from a different PC? I seriously doubt all of your memory sticks went bad at once, so if it still locks up with any one in there, then it's probably not your memory...however, it's not a bad idea to borrow memory from a friend's computer that works just to be sure that it's not your memory.

As far as the capacitors...they are normally blue, or black, or purple, or even brown...but, whatever color they are, the top is metallic looking. The tops have usually three, sometimes four creases in them. These creases allow the metal tops to flex a little when a capacitor is going bad and starts to expand. This relieves a little pressure and keeps it from completely exploding, though they do pop sometimes. Basically, you're looking to see if the tops of the capacitors are bulged up. The sides very rarely bulge out, just the tops. If you see a brown buildup on the top or bottom of the capacitor, that is a sure sign that it is bad. The brown buildup is not corrosion or rust; it's part of the electrolytic fluid that is inside the capacitor. If the capacitor is only bulged out but isn't leaking, the capacitor may or may not be bad; but, if you're having strange problems out of your PC and the capacitors are bulged, I'd dare say that they are indeed bad. Generally, most people have reported the capacitors around the CPU as being the culprits that normally go bad and cause problems. However, I would check all of the capacitors just to be sure.


Again, I believe that the failed BIOS update may be your problem. However, since your computer only locks up after being completely booted, it may not be. Test out your system with only the necessary hardware, then at least you'll have it narrowed down. Then check the capacitors. If it's not either of those, you can run your PC with the case off and a fan directly on it to be extra sure it's not overheating. And if THAT doesn't work...well, it might be the power supply. That could be checked by either borrowing someone else's power supply or using a volt meter to make sure the different leads from the power supply aren't causing voltage spikes.
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