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Sigh - Computer keeps restarting

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May 6, 2007 11:00:40 AM

I effin' hate computers, I really do. :) 

Not sure if you read the graphics card forum but if so you'd probably notice I've had a bit of an on going saga with my computer, it was making some funny noises, after a while I diagnosed it as definitely being the graphics card so I swapped it for an x1650 and then even more problems began.

First of all I noticed how poorly it performed, so I ran ATI Tool and clocked the speed so it runs now about the same as my old 6800 and whilst I was at it, decided I'd try clocking the CPU too (from 2500+ to 3200+) and again all seemed well.

But then my computer started to restart a lot, great! It just cuts out without any warning and goes straight to the POST screen, this is incredibly annoying since for the past two/three years or so of having this computer it's barely crashed at all, I'd say it's crashed far more in the past few days than it has in the past few years, and I'm a bit dejected by the whole thing now :( 

I've reset the clock speeds etc back to standard, my processor is going along at 2500+ again, the graphics GPU and memory are going at their defaults, and I've changed the fan speeds too so it'll keep both the CPU and graphics cooler than usual, but I'm still experiencing the problems ;_;

I've checked event viewer and there's nothing in there that looks really out of place, a few Windows Defender warnings, a couple of DCOM errors and a couple of Service Control errors too ("The Messenger Sharing Folders USN Journal Reader service service terminated unexpectedly" for example).

Again, I'm really not sure what to do now. I want to get a new PC at some point but since this thing does everything I want it to (when it works) I'm not really keen on the idea of getting a new PC just yet since in six months I'll be able to get something a lot better for similar money. Any help or advice would be great, thanks.
May 6, 2007 11:11:11 AM

Oh, good call sorry:

Antec Sonata Truepower 380W PSU
Asus a7n8x-e deluxe
AMD Barton 2500+
Sapphire Radeon x1650 Pro
2x512MB Crucial DDR400
2xATA hard drives
1xSATA hard drive
2xDVD-RWs
May 6, 2007 11:19:54 AM

First guess would be the PSU, try a swap for something better. Not everyone has this luxury though. You could also be experiencing a vid card driver problem if you didn't completely uninstall the old ones before installing the new video card drivers although this isn't that likely. Explore other options like PSU first. This is the most likely culprit.

You might try this next option before swapping out your PSU, but if your PSU is going out it could damage your computer so I recommend that first even though it may not be as easy to test as your memory.
http://www.memtest86.com/
That's a link to a program to test your memory. Just download the one for floppy and change your bios to boot from floppy. Test one module at at time. It's the easiest way to figure out if one is damaged.

If that doesn't work, you could have a virus, in which case you could just reinstall windows if possible (backup your data first, and don't forget to add your favorites folder!) or your motherboard could be failing.

If you reach this point and swap out the motherboard and still find it doesn't work, your last resort is likely your processor although it's unlikely.
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May 6, 2007 12:16:12 PM

Thanks for the replies guys. Unfortunately I don't really have access to a better PSU, but if it's likely to be the problem I guess I'll have to get a new one ;_; Could I test this by unplugging the DVD drives or similar and seeing if it still crashes? Unfortunately I can't run memtest86 either since I don't have a floppy disk drive, but I might try as you suggested of running just one module at a time.

I guess there's a good chance it's a virus since recently my computer has been hanging when I try to shut it down, I'm running Nod32 and Windows Defender though which I believe are generally pretty good at removing nasty programs off your PC, and I'm also running Windows with the latest updates. Re-installing XP isn't really an option unfortunately since I don't know where my CD is :(  fwiw also I only overclocked it because I was annoyed that my new graphics card which is worth twice as much as my old one is playing games a lot worse than before ;p
a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2007 1:21:20 PM

The odd noise it was making sounds like hardware of course, maybe PSU, maybe MOBO. But I'd try to rule out software first since that is so easy to do. The noise could possibly be a red herring.

The restarts could simply be windows crashing. IIRC, XP (assuming XP) restarts by default whenever it crashes. You may simply have a corrupted windows install. I'd uncheck auto restart and see if you get an error message when it crashes. right click 'mycomputer' then go to 'properties' then 'advanced' then 'startup and recovery, 'settings' 'system failure' and then uncheck the auto restart box..



I'd also run chkdsk /r at command prompt (before booting, via f eight) for sure beofre trying anything else.
May 6, 2007 1:48:18 PM

Most common cause of restarts is a badly seated heatsink on the cpu.

Can happens as a result of moving the pc which presumably you would have done when fitting the new card. Best advice I can offer is take off the heatsink and fan, clean it and the cpu up with some TIM such as articlean, then reseat it using some Artic Silver 5 (get the application instructions for your cpu from the AS website as all cpu's are different).
May 6, 2007 2:10:39 PM

That's a lot of work, and it's not as likely as you make it sound. PSU is most likely in many people's opinion. If you do buy a new PSU, consider getting one that's much better than the one you'll need, like a 600w one or higher. That way when you decided to scrap the system you have and upgrade, you have a great PSU. That way too you'll also be sure you've got plenty of power for the system you have instead of a minimal. Don't do this though if you don't plan on using the PSU for your next build.

As Mpilch said, you can burn the ISO of memtest to a CD and boot from CD if you don't have a floppy. I figured on an older system you'd likely have a floppy, but you surprised me. :-) I don't build floppies into my systems anymore either but I keep a few old ones handy for RAID setups.
May 6, 2007 7:06:08 PM

Cleaning up and reseating a heatsink should take no more than 10 minutes and its a lot cheaper than buying a new PSU only to find the problem isn't corrected.

Easier to reseat then buy a new PSU if necessary.
May 6, 2007 7:08:08 PM

Thanks again for the replies, have done the memory test now and it didn't flag up any problems, I've set Windows to display the BSOD instead of restarting too, very good idea, although unfortunately it hasn't crashed once since then, bah! Also set chkdsk to run when I next restart :) 

I've re-seated the heatsink and applied some more AS5 to it (it's about 2 years old, and seemed very slightly watery compared to before, is that a problem?) but it's made no difference to temperatures unfortunately.

Am tempted by a new PSU, but I don't want to spend any more money on this piece of junk unless I really have to, would rather just put it towards a new PC :) 
May 6, 2007 10:17:49 PM

fwiw; It seems completely random and has only happened once whilst I've been at the PC. A lot of the time when I leave just MSN and uTorrent open I'll come back after a few hours and the computer will of restarted, although Wolfenstein has crashed a few times where it didn't before, and I've noticed Firefox is crashing even more than usual.

When I set the computer to run chkdsk /r on bootup it bought up a blue screen of death near the end and just wouldn't progress past it, I couldn't really get into safe mode either, it kept crashing on the loading driver page, so I hit F8 and restored the last good configuration. It seems to be working for now, if I can't think of anything else to do and it keeps restarting then I'm gonna have to try and find my Windows XP CD and re-install I guess which is a bit of a pain. Going to start backing up my files now anyway just in case!
May 7, 2007 7:34:55 AM

Good idea. Like I said, if you DO decide to build a new system, maybe you could get a good high-end high wattage PSU and give it a try on that system. Then you'll know for sure if it's the PSU or not. If you're visiting warez sites at all or doing emulators and so on you might have a virus. Free porn sites are laden with them too, which is why you should never mess with non-standard websites and unknown emails on a good system. :-P Use the old Dell for that.

Reseating the CPU isn't that hard, but it does take time and your risk bending pins and ESD, plus you have to use more thermal compound, risk cutting your fingers or frying other parts like your mobo. There's always risk involved. Plus if you don't have a large case of have an unwieldly cooler it can be a pain. Swapping out a PSU is quick and easy, and you can sometimes borrow one from a friend or pull one from another comp.

If you're not getting the shut downs now it might've been your memory seating too. Perhaps some dust got in there or something and was creating a bridge between pins or who knows.
May 7, 2007 8:45:19 AM

Quote:
Thanks again for the replies, have done the memory test now and it didn't flag up any problems, I've set Windows to display the BSOD instead of restarting too, very good idea, although unfortunately it hasn't crashed once since then, bah! Also set chkdsk to run when I next restart :) 

I've re-seated the heatsink and applied some more AS5 to it (it's about 2 years old, and seemed very slightly watery compared to before, is that a problem?) but it's made no difference to temperatures unfortunately.

Am tempted by a new PSU, but I don't want to spend any more money on this piece of junk unless I really have to, would rather just put it towards a new PC :) 


a new power supply isn't useless in a new pc if you get a good one and if you plan on upgrading soon why not just buy a good one and see if it solves any problems?
May 7, 2007 10:09:31 AM

Yeah, that's what I'm telling him. If you buy a 1000w PSU you'll be fine as long as you plan on building a new powerhouse. Do you need a 1000w PSU for the system you have? Not by a long shot. But it'll let you jump to quad core at the end of this year with SLI, you might consider 2 of those GTS's. I hear they're better than 1 GTX card and by the end of the year they'll be cheaper. Plus, AMD's cards will be out too, and they're monsters when it comes to eating electrons.

Test your system with a powerful PSU for awhile, and if it works better you know it's the PSU. You might also consider buying a PSU tester, I don't know how much they run though.
May 8, 2007 9:51:44 AM

Many thanks again for the replies, pretty certain it isn't a PSU issue, I've used an online calculator and should be running at quite a bit below 300w so it should be fine on that account.

It's all gone horribly, horribly wrong now anyway. I did a format, every thing seemed fine, it didn't crash at all yesterday, but the internet was a little temperamental, checked device manager and the ethernet adapter had a yellow icon next to it. Tried the drivers that came with the motherboard, no luck, tried the ones on the Asus website and it wouldn't boot into Windows, safe mode worked fine, removed the drivers, tried the latest nForce drivers, worked but still had the yellow exclaimation mark. It then started asking for 'Marvell' ethrnet adapter drivers (I never even knew the chip was made by Marvell 'til yesterday) so I grabbed these from the official website, rebooted and now it won't boot into Windows, safe mode, nor boot with the last known good configuration.

Worst thing about it is that I've already moved some files from my backup drive yesterday so I'm going to have to download and use Knoppix to try and recover them, and the absolute worst thing about is that I know when I format the partition again and re-install Windows I'm going to have exactly the same problems again unless I can magically find working drivers for the card :( 
May 8, 2007 3:00:17 PM

It doesn't sound like it has anything to do with your card. Sounds like a virus eating up your drivers maybe. It's possible that Windows is corrupted and misrecognized your hardware too. My advise is to backup anything you can that you need and try a reformat.
May 8, 2007 3:38:17 PM

What's your cooling like in that case? Your chipset could possibly be overheating.
May 8, 2007 5:01:30 PM

Thanks again, Jonny in particular, you've been an absolute star!

Well, I'm just trying to do a repair installation now, it keeps asking for that particular driver file, maybe it's genuine I don't know, but I can't find it online anywhere and when I press cancel it jsut brings up a blue screen and reboots.

The only thing that makes me think maybe it is genuine is that it does match the name of my Ethernet card, but before yesterday I'd never even heard of it, so maybe it's a virus that checks the card details at a low level and throws up that sort of error message, I'm not sure :) 

Really tempted to format, but not sure if I've recovered all oft he files I need, oh well, I guess I don't have a lot of choice, here goes nothing :D 
May 8, 2007 9:46:01 PM

Absolute nightmare. Just done another format and managed to lose heaps of documents that I need, but oh well, I'm not going to worry about them because there's nothing I can do about it now, so whatever ;p

The thing that is bugging me though is my ethernet drivers still aren't working, I've got an anti virus installed this time around (Nod32) so it's not a virus causing the driver issues, but I've tried installing the ones that came on the motherboard CD, I've tried the ones from the Asus website, I've tried letting Windows automatically install whichever drivers it prefers and still it has the yellow exclaimation mark.

The network seems to be working just fine though, it just seems to drop occasionally and my Bit Torrent program for example is running at less than ~2kb/s, despite when I ran it on my parent's PC using the same port it runs at ~100kb/s on the exact same torrent files. Absolute nightmare ;/ As an extra test I've just tried loading a single torrent with thousands of seeds that has gaurenteed to max out my connection in the past, and this time it's going at kb/s, not even connecting. Downstairs it's fine, using the same uTorrent version.
May 9, 2007 2:28:58 PM

You can use a recovery program to get back any docu's that u need, despite your reformat probably if they aren't in a place on your drive that's been overwritten which is usually the case if you had a second partition on the drive, or haven't installed more than what you used to have. What I mean is that reinstalling windows at the beginning of the drive isn't likely to have over-written any of your files. You might try a recovery program if they were that important. Maybe install it on another comp and put the HDD on that as a secondary drive to search it. Just a thought, I had to do that once. Note that ANY file that was saved on the drive that hasn't been over-written will show up, so only search for word documents or whatever. It'll rename them too most likely, so you'll have to open them and find the ones you need.

As for your current problem, I doubt the NB is too hot, but you never know. I installed a new northbridge fan once on my nForce 4/6150GPU and I did see improvement in errors I was getting and computer speeds, but the errors you describe don't sound like an overheating NB. If you repartitioned your HDD and completely reinstalled windows, tested your ram, (you might try a diagnostic on your CPU too), and are still getting errors or slow DL's then it's likely your motherboard is giving out. I really don't know what else it could be.
May 10, 2007 11:36:40 AM

Huge thanks once again Jonny for the reply! Good call on trying to recover documents, I tried around five programs last night, finally found one that did the job (R-Suite I think it was called) and whilst it found loads of files, unfortunately 95%+ of the data it retrieved was completely corrupt, bah! Just ordered a 60GB external drive to use purely as backup though, quite ironic that all of this should happen less than a week after I sold my WD 120GB Passport drive which had all of the files I needed because "I don't need a separate backup drive" ;p

I think the computer's fine now btw, other than that driver error I reported with the ethernet card (which is a common fault with my board which shouldn't cause any actual problems) it's running well, not crashing etc etc. The only problem I have is my front USB ports have magically stopped working, lol.
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