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Computer crash - second opinion welcome!

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Hey guys... You got me through my Winfixer problem, and now I'm having another problem! I'm sure you've heard of this problem before, and I wanted to get a second opinion before I do anything drastic.

I've had my Sony VAIO laptop for a little over a year and a half. Everything had gone smoothly up til about a month ago. I had recently installed XPSP2 and about a week or so after, I downloaded the Winfixer bug. I got rid of that and had a smooth couple of weeks. Recently as of Monday, my computer is now crashing after about 10 minutes of booting up. I've gotten the blue screen with the words KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR inevitably followed by a black screen with the words Operating System Not Found. Two files have popped up on the blue screen as well at two different times: WIN32K.SYS & ATAPI.SYS. I've tried the BIOS troubleshooting from Sony, which basically tries to reset the startup values back to the original settings, but that doesn't work. After a crash if I try to boot up right away, Windows won't even load. I have to wait a while until I can successfully bootup for those 10 minutes. I also didn't have system restore on for the last month, so that option is out of the question. I called Sony last night, and they'd like me to back everything up and then use their system recovery, basically giving me my computer back to the way I bought it.

I'm writing you guys because of I'm wondering if that's what I'm left with doing? They thought it might be a hard drive issue, but since it even has trouble booting up into safe mode, they think it's an operating system issue.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, and I'm sorry if this topic has been discussed many times before.

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That's the technical version.

Bottom line, this is usually hardware related, which is not a good thing with a laptop as they are very expensive to fix.

Before we freak, let's try a couple things.

First, though rare, you could have a harddrive failing or in need of a good check

Start > run

chkdsk /r
<enter> in the black window. Say yes to check at reboot, then reboot.

Take a long walk...will take a couple hours, maybe more depending on drive size.

After it comes back up, see if problem persists. If it does, and your laptop has two sticks of memory in it, remove one. Run the computer for a while. Problem return?

Shut down and Re-insert stick and remove other. Boot up? Problem return?

At that point, I think your best, last bet is to try a system restore as directed....it could be a hopelessly corrupt system file (though usually that means you don't boot at all)

The 10 minute interval has me leaning toward a hairline crack in the motherboard or memory that expands as the heat increases...which is why you cannot reboot until things cool down,
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wow, thanks so much! i'll try that and report back. i just hope the computer stays on while i do the chkdsk?
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