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Computer Melt-down! (Read 5458 times)
NightOwl
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Computer Melt-down!
May 7th, 2010 at 1:31pm
 
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For the last 2 months or so I've been having problems with random BSODs!

At first, it happened only when I turned on the computer in the morning--it would usually happen before the Windows login screen.  No consistent problem reported--various loading drivers or *IRQ not less than or equal* or Critical System Error! 

If I attempted to re-boot immediately--usually had a second BSOD event.  If I let the system *warm up* by leaving it at the initial BSOD--then the re-boot was usually successful!

I've done a MEM386 test on the RAM--passed--no errors.  Replaced the HDDs--no change in behavior.  Been playing around with settings, etc. to no avail.

Problem has become critical in the last couple days--can hardly boot successfully--or if I do, I'm getting freezing or crashes in Windows!

So, tried doing a *clean install* of WinXP on a new HDD.  This has helped--getting BSOD less often, but WinXP is *flakey*.  It is having trouble installing all the Windows updates--about a 10-15 % failed to install!  I can not install Avast or MS Security Essentials antivirus--installation fails on MS Security Essentials, and the the installation program on Avast fails to extract itself--and fails!  And, I'm getting random freezes--but, not as often as my original WinXP.

I have done serveral Ghost backups during this time--they can take up to about an hour in DOS--so far--I've never had a freeze of boot failure in DOS and Ghost!!!!

So, I'm at a lost!  I may be without a regular computer for the next week or two until I figure out what to do--and/or purchase a new system!  Anybody want to recommend what to get for current options?  I'm mostly an Internet surfer, email, and MS Word Doc--not a *gamer*--not looking for the fastest, most powerful system--so suggestions welcomed!

My time computing will probably be limited (or not at all if this system goes belly up!) until I get pass this issue.  So if you don't see me here--you know why!

Dang--it's a pisser not to have my software setup and running like my old system--can't do things that I would normally!
 

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Dan Goodell
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #1 - May 7th, 2010 at 2:31pm
 
Well, I think your testing points to a hardware problem rather than software.  You've already done a memtest, and I presume you've tried reseating the IDE cable, so my prime suspect would be a gradually failing hard disk.

I'd run Spinrite on the hard disk, but that costs money if you don't already own the program.  Have you tried running the disk manufacturer's utility?  To be conclusive, I'd remove the hard disk and test it from another system so it's tested independently from secondary suspects such as a failing motherboard, power supply, or bad IDE cable.

 
 
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MrMagoo
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #2 - May 7th, 2010 at 11:38pm
 
Dan Goodell wrote on May 7th, 2010 at 2:31pm:
my prime suspect would be a gradually failing hard disk. 

NightOwl wrote on May 7th, 2010 at 1:31pm:
tried doing a *clean install* of WinXP on a new HDD


I agree that it is a hardware problem, but it sounds like we've already eliminated the HD as the cause.  Memory sounds ok.  That leaves us with the power supply or the motherboard.  Since the computer needs to *warm up* before it acts proper, my guess would be a failing solderpoint on the motherboard or a capacitor that is going out.  Check the motherboard for any capacitors that are blowing out on top.

Hopefully it is your power supply.  That would be the cheapest/easiest to replace.  After that you are left replacing the motherboard.
 
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Rad
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #3 - May 8th, 2010 at 4:37pm
 
Seems that the same gremlins in my system have invaded yours.

http://radified.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1271560406

I have similar symtoms.

Funny how no problems in DOS, altho DOS simply might not take advantage of the same hardware as Windows.

Power supply is usually easy to diagnose, since a PSU can be changed out without much trouble.
 
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NightOwl
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #4 - May 25th, 2010 at 10:54pm
 
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Well, it looks like MrMagoo had the best suggestion--

Quote:
Since the computer needs to *warm up* before it acts proper, my guess would be a failing solderpoint on the motherboard or a capacitor that is going out.  Check the motherboard for any capacitors that are blowing out on top.


Did some research:  Capacitor plague and BadCaps.net

Looked at the capacitors on the motherboard and found one with a tanish brown gunk on the top--and another that appears to be bulging at the top--and a third that's tipping to one side--all indicative of a capacitor going bad!!!!

Now that I think about it, this may have been the problem that happened to my other system about a year and a half ago!

Just not having much luck with computers lately!!!!

So, I understand how a bad capacitor might cause random power fluctuations, and cause freeze ups and BSOD errors, but the system would often run for a period of time successfully--but even when seeming to run okay, I got these errors repeatedly without the system actually crashing:

Quote:
So, tried doing a *clean install* of WinXP on a new HDD.  This has helped--getting BSOD less often, but WinXP is *flakey*.  It is having trouble installing all the Windows updates--about a 10-15 % failed to install!  I can not install Avast or MS Security Essentials antivirus--installation fails on MS Security Essentials, and the the installation program on Avast fails to extract itself--and fails!

How does a bad capacitor cause those kinds of errors??????

I don't know how those functions (extracting the files for an install--or the install of MS Security Essentials failing--tried repeatedly and got the same failure to install) could be effected by a bad capacitor.

The mysteries of computers!!!!  I suppose the random power fluctuations may have corrupted the software for installing a program--and corrupted the extraction process--but I though install files had the extraction software built in as a *self extracting* file--how could that be corrupted?  I had just done a successful download--oh, well--again the mysteries of computers!
 

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Pleonasm
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #5 - May 26th, 2010 at 8:00am
 
NightOwl, the operation of installing or updating a program is often resource intensive (requiring high processor and disk utilization), and it may be the high resource utilization that is causing the failure.  My guess is that any operation that would place significant stress on the hardware would exhibit the same symptoms.

To test this hypothesis, you may wish to consider running HeavyLoad, a free utility from JAM Software.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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NightOwl
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #6 - May 26th, 2010 at 10:36pm
 
@
Pleonasm

Thanks for the link--looks like a good stress test for a new system as well!

I haven't even tried to boot the * bad* system for the last week now--looks like that program has to be installed first before you can run it--I'll try to see if the system will boot--and if the program will install!!!
 

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MrMagoo
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #7 - May 27th, 2010 at 1:26pm
 
Bad capacitors cause all kinds or strange behaviour.  The best response to finding them is to either fix them or replace the motherboard.  More playing around with the computer will just lead to frustration and further damage to your data.

They can be fixed.  I'm sure you saw on bad-caps.net.  You just need to de-solder then and solder on new one's of the same rating.  Its pretty easy if you have even minimal experience with a soldering iron, and the capacitors themselves only cost a few cents to a few dollars.  Of course its also a great excuse to replace your motherboard with the latest and greatest.
 
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OldCasper
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Re: Computer Melt-down!
Reply #8 - Jul 18th, 2010 at 10:38am
 
If the mobo was one of those really expensive ones and you like it a lot, you can buy the new caps from that 'badcaps' website. 
I once replaced ten bad caps in a very proprietary mobo and saved a whole system.  It was more of an 'exercise' than a necessity.  I just didn't have the heart to just throw it away.
But it worked and that PC is still running today.
Replacing cap's in a multi-layered mobo is not for the faint at heart or a beginner.  Some soldering/DE-soldering expertise is required.

When those caps fail, that filter the +5vdc rail, anything can happen with the ram, cpu, gpu, and anything that uses +5v.
You might just say, "with bad caps, all bets are off". Cry

Good Luck,
Casper
 

A man with experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.
 
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