Troubleshooting Elusive Involuntary Reboot
Posted 06 March 2006 - 04:27 PM
2. I am going to use Fixit Utilities and System Mechanic to do cleanup of registry etc. as possible. This may make the system more stable.
Posted 06 March 2006 - 08:55 PM
The Fix-It Utilities has a Video Ram Test as part of it. That said the Video Ram Failed the Bit Walk Test.
I always had the Automatic Restart Unchecked when the system failed but the system would not show the Blue Screen. If the Video Ram is bad, that might explain the random reboots!!!
Am I correct?
There is a place near me where I can get it checked out tomorrow.
Posted 06 March 2006 - 11:52 PM
1: I am not familiar with your test program, therefore I would definitely download and run the diagnostic HD software.
2: Try to get a replacement video card, pull out the present card and install the new one. The replacement can be any old video card, AGP (provided the computer supports it speed) or pci. We don't look for performance at this stage. Try to download a driver, but if you don't get one even that is not essential and you can run it on XP default. Let it run and see if you still get the reboots.
Posted 07 March 2006 - 08:44 PM
This commentary is to try to answer your questions and to make as unambiguous as possible the sequence of events.
The problem may have been with the system through all of the following but may have been masked by software problems. The system kept failing for different conditions. The goal here is explain cause and result as clearly as I can because I believe a lot was learned in the world of diagnostic technique in this exercise.
There are operating system differences. But through all the sequence Automatic Restart was unchecked. The value of this is that if the reboot Blue Screens it is the Operating System. If the reboot occurs without the blue screen, it is a hardware reboot. It is not without possibility that the hardware problem was being masked by the software problems. Please note the differences.
NOTE: This is a Compaq 1510US laptop with a purchased 5 year performance guarantee. That means if the machine fails for any reason within the 5 years I can send it back to the factory(at no cost to me) for repair. I also get a free loaner while the machine is in the shop. That means that I do not have the option of opening up the system nor changing anything within the laptop. This is not a desktop. Diagnostics run on the computer are OK.
Having invested a lot of time in this problem, I had as a real goal to pin down where it was failing as there appeared to be no pattern.
1. Original Install – Stock Windows XP Home Edition – Failed Blue Screen – Corrupt Files. Full dumps sent to Microsoft. Microsoft Pointed the finger at Norton Ghost. Symantec Website noted incompatibility between Norton Ghost and XP SP2. A patch was available.
2. The system was reloaded using factory supplied restore disks --- Windows XP Home Edition. This time the system was rebooting at the blue screen for “First Allocation Unit Of The Hard Drive was truncated” at which point the programs I wanted to use were unusable. It also came up with an incomplete installation for Roxio CD Creator and would not recognize the CDROM.
3. The system was reloaded using Windows XP SP2 professional. Note change of operating system. During this process the system was rebooting at various places with no discernible pattern. The machine quickly became unusable with reboots. I took it to the shop.
4. The techs said they put it on the bench for the day and called me that evening to tell me they could not find anything wrong with it and that I could have the machine back. At this point the system was not displaying any pattern of reboot. It was random but stable at the moment. I asked for them to run diagnostics. PCDoctor said that DDR RAM was bad. I bought new RAM(2 512 Meg Kingston) and we reinstalled Windows XP SP2 Professional. Did DDR RAM problem mask bad Video RAM?.......Possibly. But the hardware failure was a plausible explanation. End of Reload #2 and we are now on reload #3.
5. Now I am working with reload #3. As I started working with the system I started seeing restarts. I tried various uninstall/reinstall sequences to see if I had a problem with the software. The reboots sometimes occurred on the internet and sometimes occurred during planned restart. Sometimes at the desktop. There was no pattern.
6. Still with reload #3. I tried to load Microsoft Office 2003 and found the system to hang during registry write. I cancelled out. Later indication was that I had a suspended installation. The only way I was aware was when Trend Micro de-install told me and gave me the option to roll back the Office Installation. My thinking was that the incomplete installation had screwed up the registry. Did this mask the Video Ram Bit-Walk Failure?.........Possibly. Subsequent successful installation of Office 2000 certainly had me thinking that way.
7. Various deinstall/install strategies to solve the problem probably really cluttered the registry with junk. At this point there was no pattern to when the system would reboot and to how long the system would stay up. Then I found GEEKSTOGO….GREAT.
8. We walked systematically through diagnostics from HijackThis and Everest including driver reload to Stress testing with HeavyLoad and P95. By the time we got to stress testing there was still no pattern as to when the system would reboot. It might be in normal restart or it might be on the internet or it might be during a driver download.
9. REMEMBER: All through this that Automatic Restart was unchecked and the system did not go through the Blue Screen on reboot. THAT WAS THE ONLY COMMONALITY THROUGH THE WHOLE THING. THIS LEAD TO A BELIEF THAT THE PROBLEM WAS IN HARDWARE.
10. Then CCleaner was mentioned and I downloaded it. That got rid of a lot of registry clutter. I went back and used CCleaner, System Mechanic and Fix-It Utilities in succession to clean the registry until I could not go any further. System Mechanic and Fix-It Utilities are retail software utility packages available at my local Fry’s Electronics.
11. Then I decided to go back and try the diagnostics in Fix-It Utilities. Part of that was the Video RAM Test. That said the system failed the BIT-WALK-TEST.. AHHH another reproducible.
12. Is it bad in a part normally not accessed??? Don’t know. Is the CPU throwing heat? Note ambient temps - 125 Motherboard, 104 CPU, HDD 95. Everest says the fan is functioning 9375. The inside of the notebook can get quite hot and this problem may have been brewing for a while.
13. With the Automatic Restart at Failure Unchecked (Control Panel, System, Advanced Tab) and no Blue Screen this all points to hardware. Could the CPU or some part of the motherboard be overheating???? It is conceivable since the system is 3 years old and the inside of the notebook can get hot. The power module was never hot to the point where you could not put your hand on it. But it sometimes was more than just warm to the touch.
14. Keeping in mind that I purchased a 5 year Performance Service Contract with this machine (if anything goes wrong) and that my goal was to pin down what was going wrong so I could get it fixed once and for all, I think that we have done so at this point. I don’t have the option to open the notebook for swaps but I do have a service contract, I made the conscious decision to send the Notebook to the factory for replacement of the motherboard and accept a loaner.
15. Could we make the case for lower level diagnostics, probably but at this point I believe this thread can be closed out.
16. To The Skeptic and to GerryF and to all the people who make “GeeksToGo” possible, THANK YOU. I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU AND WILL REFER PEOPLE TO YOU IN MY TRAVELS.
Len Trimlett -- Thank You
Posted 08 March 2006 - 12:16 AM
I wish life was so simple that one diagnostic tool would give a definitive answer for a problem. Just now I am working on a computer with random rebooting and while I look at microsoft for explanation to an error message that I see in the event viewer I get in one article an explanation that the computer is having a rootkit which presently I am unable to locate, eventhough I follow carefully microsoft's instructions, and in another article they offer a hotfix for the same problem which is apperantly the result of a software failure.
It is not true that BSOD is the result of software failure only. Many messages can be the result of either software or hardware problem. My opinion is that If you have done a clean installation of XP (reformatting in the process) and without installing any other program you still have a rebooting problem, then the source for the problem is most likely in the hardware or BIOS. It is quite often difficult to explain to a seller especially when the computer looks stable during the few hours that it spends in his lab (which very often is the frustrating case). I would have taken the computer back to the seller and insist that he fix the problem. I don't see much else that I, personally, can offer.
Posted 08 March 2006 - 01:34 AM
Thank you. My mind reached a point of saturation on my problem but I would still be interested in hearing about yours. I might find myself coming back to it when the system comes back...don't know. Your problem might help me keep my head on straight.
The steps in the diagnostic process that I got through or would use include:
1. Hijack This -- Programs
2. Everest -- Hardware
3. Driver Download
4. BIOS (Not even thought of till now0.
5. Memory -- Tested
6. Swapped power modules
7. Harddrive -- CHKDSK /r, defrag
8. Regcleaner -- Ccleaner, System Mechanic Reg Clean, Fix-It Utilities Reg Cleaner
9. Stress Test -- Heavy Duty, P95
10. In 20/20 Hindsight I should have done a 512 only ram (each one) then both, then swap.
11. Watch event viewer.
Could you start a thread "The Skeptics Random Reboot" and tell me about the problem. Let me know where it is. I would like to use your similar sounding problem to help me navigate through the books and web material and if I find material or usefual tools I will pass them on to you. You are correct. There is no "Just One Tool"...Frequently it is multiple tools and a battle of wits...
Len Trimlett -- Oakland, CA -- 3 blocks from my house I can look out and see all of San Francisco, the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.
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