How does one diagnose a lock-up?

Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.

The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.

Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
try to run overnight.

I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
too old.

Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
6 answers Last reply
More about diagnose lock
  1. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    news:1119485782.579503.120300@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
    > I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
    > trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
    > keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
    > Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
    > switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.
    >
    > The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
    > minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
    > trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
    > and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
    > this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.

    sounds heat related or memory
    what OS?

    >
    > Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
    > state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
    > try to run overnight.
    >
    > I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
    > overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
    > motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
    > too old.
    >
    > Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
    >
  2. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    In other words, you have the "customer" pay for you unwillingness or
    inablility to diagnose & correct the problem.
    I have several people who don't want to spend money on a new pc or any
    upgrades. I make them
    understand the limitations of the hardware but the pc can still be made
    to work right.
  3. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Thanks for all the pointers. Here's my POA based on the feedback.

    1. Not being able to measure the CPU temperature, I'll just open up the
    case, point a desk fan at it, and let rip my movie transcoding software.
    Let's see if we get a lock-up.
    2. Pull out one RAM module at a time (I've got 3 256 MB RDRAM modules), and
    do the same. See what happens.

    Hopefully, something will click.
    --
    Wiley

    "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    news:1119485782.579503.120300@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
    > I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
    > trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
    > keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
    > Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
    > switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.
    >
    > The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
    > minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
    > trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
    > and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
    > this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.
    >
    > Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
    > state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
    > try to run overnight.
    >
    > I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
    > overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
    > motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
    > too old.
    >
    > Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
    >
  4. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    If you are running Windows XP it is a little easier because it isn't the
    type of OS that will lock up just because you looked at it funny. The first
    thing I do is open the case and check for bad caps on the mainboard(also
    check for excessive dust clinging to the heatsink). If that looks ok, I boot
    the Ultimate Boot CD and run memtest to make sure the memory is ok Then I
    run Hitatchi's Drive Fitness Test to make sure the HDD is ok. If that checks
    out I boot to a custom Windows Ultimate Boot CD (basically Bart PE with a
    bunch of goodies). I run a chkdsk to make sure the file system is ok, then a
    virus scan to eliminate that possibility. The cool thing about the WUBCD is
    that it is a bootable version of XP. You can run Prime95 and a couple of
    other torture tests. If you work the system over good and don't get a lockup
    then generally you can eliminate a hardware problem from the equation. If I
    do get a lockup and the system is clean inside and doesn't seem to be
    overheating my first suspect is the power supply and I will plug in a good
    one and re-run the torture tests. From there it is a process of elimination
    and can take awhile. If it doesn't lockup with the WUBCD, I will boot the
    machine into safe mode and check for spyware and try to reproduce the
    problem there. If no lockups then it is on to normal mode to find out what
    is causing it. If there is nothing obvious I usually let the customer know
    that a format and restore may be the best option rather than spending hours
    tracking it down. Personally I don't like to give up and enjoy a challenge,
    but sometimes it is not worth the time and headache. Anyway, you can get the
    UBCD here at www.ultimatebootcd.com
    There is a link there to the windows ultimate boot cd with instructions how
    to build it.

    "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    news:1119485782.579503.120300@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
    > I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
    > trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
    > keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
    > Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
    > switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.
    >
    > The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
    > minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
    > trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
    > and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
    > this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.
    >
    > Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
    > state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
    > try to run overnight.
    >
    > I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
    > overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
    > motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
    > too old.
    >
    > Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
    >
  5. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    This really helped, Tweek.

    MemTest 86, one of the tools on the UBCD, locked up in the middle of the
    operation. This suggests a memory problem, doesn't it?

    Problem is, I've got 3 RDRAM :( DIMMs. How do I narrow it down to one?
    --
    Wiley

    "Tweek" <shawnwingetNOSPAM@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    news:ATVue.14$xL1.5@trnddc08...
    > If you are running Windows XP it is a little easier because it isn't the
    > type of OS that will lock up just because you looked at it funny. The
    > first thing I do is open the case and check for bad caps on the
    > mainboard(also check for excessive dust clinging to the heatsink). If that
    > looks ok, I boot the Ultimate Boot CD and run memtest to make sure the
    > memory is ok Then I run Hitatchi's Drive Fitness Test to make sure the HDD
    > is ok. If that checks out I boot to a custom Windows Ultimate Boot CD
    > (basically Bart PE with a bunch of goodies). I run a chkdsk to make sure
    > the file system is ok, then a virus scan to eliminate that possibility.
    > The cool thing about the WUBCD is that it is a bootable version of XP. You
    > can run Prime95 and a couple of other torture tests. If you work the
    > system over good and don't get a lockup then generally you can eliminate a
    > hardware problem from the equation. If I do get a lockup and the system is
    > clean inside and doesn't seem to be overheating my first suspect is the
    > power supply and I will plug in a good one and re-run the torture tests.
    > From there it is a process of elimination and can take awhile. If it
    > doesn't lockup with the WUBCD, I will boot the machine into safe mode and
    > check for spyware and try to reproduce the problem there. If no lockups
    > then it is on to normal mode to find out what is causing it. If there is
    > nothing obvious I usually let the customer know that a format and restore
    > may be the best option rather than spending hours tracking it down.
    > Personally I don't like to give up and enjoy a challenge, but sometimes it
    > is not worth the time and headache. Anyway, you can get the UBCD here at
    > www.ultimatebootcd.com
    > There is a link there to the windows ultimate boot cd with instructions
    > how to build it.
    >
    > "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    > news:1119485782.579503.120300@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
    >> I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
    >> trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
    >> keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
    >> Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
    >> switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.
    >>
    >> The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
    >> minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
    >> trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
    >> and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
    >> this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.
    >>
    >> Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
    >> state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
    >> try to run overnight.
    >>
    >> I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
    >> overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
    >> motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
    >> too old.
    >>
    >> Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
    >>
    >
    >
  6. Archived from groups: alt.comp.hardware.pc-homebuilt (More info?)

    Rdram has to be installed in matched pairs, are you sure you have three? If
    you only have two, I am not aware of any way to test them indivdually.
    However, a lockup in memtest doesn't necessarily indicate bad memory, it
    still could be something else hardware wise. Unfortunately the only way to
    eliminate memory as the culprit is to put known good modules in the machine
    and run memtest again. You can also try reseating the memory and running
    memtest again.

    "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    news:JwFwe.30$7o.276@news.oracle.com...
    > This really helped, Tweek.
    >
    > MemTest 86, one of the tools on the UBCD, locked up in the middle of the
    > operation. This suggests a memory problem, doesn't it?
    >
    > Problem is, I've got 3 RDRAM :( DIMMs. How do I narrow it down to one?
    > --
    > Wiley
    >
    > "Tweek" <shawnwingetNOSPAM@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    > news:ATVue.14$xL1.5@trnddc08...
    >> If you are running Windows XP it is a little easier because it isn't the
    >> type of OS that will lock up just because you looked at it funny. The
    >> first thing I do is open the case and check for bad caps on the
    >> mainboard(also check for excessive dust clinging to the heatsink). If
    >> that looks ok, I boot the Ultimate Boot CD and run memtest to make sure
    >> the memory is ok Then I run Hitatchi's Drive Fitness Test to make sure
    >> the HDD is ok. If that checks out I boot to a custom Windows Ultimate
    >> Boot CD (basically Bart PE with a bunch of goodies). I run a chkdsk to
    >> make sure the file system is ok, then a virus scan to eliminate that
    >> possibility. The cool thing about the WUBCD is that it is a bootable
    >> version of XP. You can run Prime95 and a couple of other torture tests.
    >> If you work the system over good and don't get a lockup then generally
    >> you can eliminate a hardware problem from the equation. If I do get a
    >> lockup and the system is clean inside and doesn't seem to be overheating
    >> my first suspect is the power supply and I will plug in a good one and
    >> re-run the torture tests. From there it is a process of elimination and
    >> can take awhile. If it doesn't lockup with the WUBCD, I will boot the
    >> machine into safe mode and check for spyware and try to reproduce the
    >> problem there. If no lockups then it is on to normal mode to find out
    >> what is causing it. If there is nothing obvious I usually let the
    >> customer know that a format and restore may be the best option rather
    >> than spending hours tracking it down. Personally I don't like to give up
    >> and enjoy a challenge, but sometimes it is not worth the time and
    >> headache. Anyway, you can get the UBCD here at www.ultimatebootcd.com
    >> There is a link there to the windows ultimate boot cd with instructions
    >> how to build it.
    >>
    >> "Wiley Q. Hacker" <wiley.q.hacker@gmail.com> wrote in message
    >> news:1119485782.579503.120300@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
    >>> I've got an older P4 1.7 GHz machine. Recently, I've been having some
    >>> trouble, where the machine just locks up. Can't move the mouse,
    >>> keyboard won't work, the off-switch won't turn the computer off.
    >>> Totally unresponsive. The only thing that works is to hold the power
    >>> switch down for 5 seconds to do a hard shutdown.
    >>>
    >>> The lock-up is semi-predictable. It seems to happen after about 5-15
    >>> minutes of heavy CPU activity. Most recently, it died several times
    >>> trying to transcode some slideshows into NTSC video using Nero, Roxio
    >>> and Picasa (so it's not software-specific). It has also behaved like
    >>> this when doing full system scans using Norton AntiVirus.
    >>>
    >>> Most mornings, I can turn the monitor on to find the system in this
    >>> state. This probably due to the fact that my spyware and virus scans
    >>> try to run overnight.
    >>>
    >>> I installed SpeedFan during my tasks to try and see if the CPU is
    >>> overheating (since heavy CPU activity causes the issue), but the
    >>> motherboard does not seem to be reporting on CPU temperature; probably
    >>> too old.
    >>>
    >>> Any pointers on diagnosing the problem?
    >>>
    >>
    >>
    >
    >
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