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1.5 yr old system hangs when installing software.

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March 4, 2008 4:25:57 AM

Hi. I have a custom built machine running XP MCE 2005. This past 3 weeks I started noticing my music I play overnight would stop somewhere and not read anymore tunes until I restarted the program. Then this past weekend, everytime I went to install something new my system would hang and then completely freeze. This usually happens at the "Initializing" part. What I did since I have 2 hard drives is to take all my valuables off my boot disk and onto my storage disk and format my boot and reinstalling WIN MCE. Doing this did nothing, it rarely booted and would freeze with any demanding action. So, then I installed Win MCE on my storage disk (I uplugged my primary) and now have it running fine but, it still freezes at certain installations. It won't let me install seatools since it freezes at the the install. Since I experienced the problem on both drives does this mean:

A) My drives are bad.
B) My mainboard needs to be replaced.

Lately, my motherboard would only POST if I turned it off, restarting it usually dosen't POST. I've run out of ideas, I'm thinking about replacing my mainboard.

Specs:
RS485m-m
Athlon x2 5200+
2GB DDR2 800 ram
200gb (was 360gb before I took out primary)
Rosewill 500 watt PSU.
Win XP MCE 2005

More about : system hangs installing software

March 4, 2008 5:44:08 AM

The first thing to do is download Ultimate Boot CD and run memtest86+. You will need to burn the ISO to CD with ISO Recorder or Nero etc., if you have it.
March 4, 2008 7:00:36 AM

Buy A new PSU.
Related resources
March 4, 2008 8:02:32 AM

bob is right, could be the psu, sepecially when it crashes after a period of time or under load, unplugging other hdd may have just freed some more watts and relieved the strain.
March 4, 2008 10:43:53 AM

Well, I'm not too sure about the PSU. My primary drive performs worse than this one when used separately but, the installation problem persists. I've noticed that sometimes installations work when they froze earlier but, Seatools installation always freezes.

I've noticed a few days ago when I powered the system on I'd hear some static from the PSU but, this was after I started having problems.

If I find the PSU at fault, what would be your advice? Get one at the same wattage or a higher one?

I will try the ultimate boot cd.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 4, 2008 11:03:27 AM

Run the hard drive manufacturer's diagnostics.
It's a free download.

Your power supply is more than enough Wattage for that system.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 4, 2008 11:52:24 AM

I also had an issue once where the mobo actually stopped recognizing the hard drives. But first I would say try testing your memory, if not that, then go after the PSU, as that would be the next logical choice. If the system has run for 1.5 years the mobo should be ok. Also, are you using IDE drives or anything? If so check your jumpers. If those are set wrong, set them to master for your primary hard drive, slave for your secondary. If those are messed up, it can mess up different things. And before you say that you are using the cable select setting, yeah, but some drives/boards don't like that setting and let you know it. Worth checking into.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 4, 2008 11:54:06 AM

Also, as you described it, it could be your PSU, maybe getting weaker and not able to handle all the load it used too....
March 4, 2008 5:26:03 PM

I ran Memtest86. Nothing unusual. I also Ran Seatools for DOS on long and short scans and no errors. I will see if anything is different. If not, it's my PSU or Motherboard.
March 4, 2008 7:16:29 PM

Yipes, I just saw that PSU. Get that junk out of your system, even if it isn't the cause of your problem. Especially if it made any kind of noise. It's a tier 5 and it is junk.
March 4, 2008 9:16:14 PM

I really think it's my PSU now, two times in the past hour or two it just restarts without warning.

Okay, I have XQpack2 case, this PSU was hanging outside since it's wires are really long. I was wondering if there is any good 500-600 PSU's for mATX cases like the XQpack2?
March 4, 2008 9:54:22 PM

Antec Earthwatts Series EA-xxx
Corsair VX series or maybe HX series with modular cables to remove unused cables. It appears the X-QPACK2 will take a standard size PSU, but you will have to check.

Change it as soon as you can, the health of your PC may rely on it.
March 5, 2008 12:17:46 AM

This is beyond me. Using utilities to check my stuff. It seems my PSU is fine. My CPU is hot "around 75'c". I've been doing alot of stressful activities like playing games, using a cpu stresser. Then I decided to do something crazy, install an app, have a game running in the background, have the CPU stresser running and decoding MP3's all at once (or almost) I was going back between the game (in this case UT3) and my desktop. My CPU Ran 85'c. Yes, really hot but, no restarts or anything with this power draw. My voltages didn't really change the whole time.

Obviously, I should get a new CPU cooler. Since I was using the one from my sempron. But, with all that power draw how can it be the PSU? It seems like everything has went back to normal now. I hope so, one thing is certain, I need to get an aftermarket CPU cooler.

Btw, I'm sporting an x1950xt PCI-E. Sorry I didn't mention that earlier.
March 6, 2008 1:36:05 AM

It may not be the PSU, but that is a junk PSU. When it blows it may give you no warning and might damage your mobo etc. on the way out.
March 6, 2008 3:14:27 AM

Somebody please shoot me.

Well, I replaced the PSU. What it did was now instead of random restarts I still got random freezing. Since I feared my hot CPU and tried cleaning it. When I tried to remove the heatsink, with only a little effort, the whole unit-processor and heatsink-came right out of the locked ZIF socket. It seems that I put too much paste on it originally. But, to my horror, two pins were bent. In attempt to fix them with the credit card method, I bent another one, 2 of the bends are at 80' angles but, one is like 60'. I can't straiten the pins out and I got some paste on some outer pins. I see myself screwed now. This has been a rough week for my pc. I can get pics of the pins. Any advice would help.

If all hope is lost, I'll buy a cheap x2 or a 64 until I have the money to buy a powerful CPU again. This sucks.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 6, 2008 3:38:15 AM

On the cpu, try using some kind of cloth or paper towel, but be very very careful!!! Ground yourself and try to generate as little static as possible. As far as the bent pins, I've also heard of using a mechanical pencil. Try the ones where you can take the lead out, and it has a hole for the lead to go through, use that hole and CAREFULLY put it over the bent pins, and straighten them out as best you can. Remember, DO NOT DO NOT touch the pins on your cpu, and handle it by the edges. When you put the chip back in, remember it will only fit one way, do not try to force it into the slot or you'll possibly bend more pins. Also, when you reinstall the cpu thermal paste, use just a very little bit, and some guys will disagree with me, but what works for me is to put just a very little bit of paste on the chip, then use my finger to spread it evenly over the top cover of the chip.
March 6, 2008 3:39:21 AM

Try using a razorblade or large hat pin and a good magnifying glass. Take your time. The pins don't have to be perfect, they just have to fit in the socket.
March 6, 2008 2:13:33 PM

Okay, so, after hours of effort, I redeemed myself and I finally got the pins straight enough to go into the ZIF with "zero insertion force" as hoped. I plugged everything back in (now squeeky clean). Booted it up, it worked great. I noticed my CPU temps dropped nearly 30'c idle and 20'c busy. But, even with all that effort and stress, my computer still freezes when installing software. But, this time it's more random. Like, installing CCC. Usually, it would freeze at the NET 2.0 phase but, it zipped past that only to freeze at the end of the last installer. Shucks. I was playing games for an hour an no issues.

So, okay here's the standings.

CPU: Cleaned and tested, Ruled out.
PSU: Bought new one (Antec earthwatts 500w): Ruled out.
Dust: Gone. Ruled out.
Switched GPU's for testing, effects happen with both. Ruled out.
Fresh Windows install, ruled out.

That really only leaves the ram and the HDD's. Unless you want to point fingers at the DVD-RAM drive but, I wouldn't.
March 6, 2008 3:04:20 PM

Try running stress prime on your PC.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 6, 2008 5:22:41 PM

Like someone else said test your ram then. That can cause issues. I've had it happen to me before in fact, last week or so.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 6, 2008 5:32:28 PM

Also, try running disk defrag on your hard drive. Windows includes a utility, but this one is also free, and in my opinion is a whole lot better, as well as a lot faster...

http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/downlo...

Also, have windows run it's diskchecker utility, it used to be called scandisk. But run those 2 as well as check memory, then you can be certain that those are or are not the problems.
March 6, 2008 8:47:43 PM

I can't believe we didn't think of this before.

Look in event viewer, I see a pattern of 2 events that occur. The next event(s) are startup events.

In-game my crashes are logged as: ATI2MAG - bad 6.10 drivers that I didn't update. I just updated to 8.3, let's see what happens.

Installations are: DISK, controller error. It says faulty cable so, I'll replace the sata cable since I have a spare lying around.

Hopefully, this will solve my problems.
March 6, 2008 10:48:41 PM

Update: The ATI update did fix games freezing. But, whenever I install Quicktime (for example) it always freezes towards the end. Some installers freeze but, after reboot they can work. Some installers always freeze. This is driving me nutso.
March 7, 2008 11:55:40 AM

The problem has sadly progressed. Now, 5 minutes into windows reguardless of what I do, the computer freezes. In detail, it's like the screen becomes stuck in time for that millisecond and the HDD light goes out. 5-6 seconds later, the HDD light comes back on and stays on indefinately until I reset. No user input is possible once it's frozen.

The whole "Disk" thing was my useless USB card reader not my HDD's!


UPDATE: I think I found my problem. I have a bugged service starting up. I progressed little by little until the freezing started and went a step back. One of the none-microsoft services were causing it. I just hope this last and not randomly freeze again.
March 7, 2008 8:50:03 PM

In my first post there is a link to the UBCD. Use it to run memtest86+ to rule out the RAM.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 7, 2008 9:28:39 PM

Agreed, test the memory. I had an issue that started where I'd get a very random lockup, once every couple weeks or so, then progressed, I had a bad stick of memory. Check the memory.
March 8, 2008 12:04:13 AM

I have used UBCD for the RAM but, I'll do it again now. I have random lock ups, but now, it's somewhat "acceptable" since it only happens when I leave my pc for like an hour. I have Crucial Ballistix 2gb ddr2-800 RAM by the way. Wonder what service was causing my issue today.

This past week.
Sunday: Symptoms rise to critical levels
Monday: Multiple windows reinstalls, formatted a drive
Tuesday:Got it working somewhat, still troubleshooting.
Wedsnesday: New PSU, Almost broken CPU.
Thursday: Fixed CPU, Began to have freezing at start-up issues, fixed GPU freezing issue.
Friday: Fixed start up issues. Random Freezing remains.

I guess RAM and HDD is all that's left to point the finger at, I'll test it next boot.

UPDATE: 03/07/08 - 11:19pm EST

After 3 passes of memtest86+ nothing was found. So, I guess memory is ruled out right? Now what's left the HDD?
a b B Homebuilt system
March 8, 2008 2:32:05 AM

I would try defragging the hard drive, also, have windows do a scandisk/checkdisk operation see if maybe you have a bad sector or something.
March 8, 2008 12:21:15 PM

Okay, I discovered at 3:00am again my computer froze overnight. Then when I restarted my computer it kept freezing 5 minutes in. Since it happened twice, there was a pattern so, I looked through some settings and found that Windows automatic updates were scheduled for 3:00am so, first I disabled them from installing. It still froze windows so I disabled them altogether and now it doesn't freeze 5 minutes in. Also note that when installing updates when I shut down it always froze when putting them in.

I defragged both drives, I didn't notice a difference.

Now, all that's left is to use SeaTools/Checkdsk.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 8, 2008 8:33:28 PM

Hmm, maybe Zorg or someone more experienced will know about this, but have you checked that your ram timings are at the specs they are supposed to be??
March 9, 2008 3:34:31 AM

I had another freeze an 9pm tonight. Why I can't call a pattern yet for the 9pm reason, I'll see what happens tommorow night. But, just so you know, it did freeze when I was switching programs at 9 sharp. Maybe it might be the memory. I'll check my timings. But, I still find it coincidental things freeze up on the dot.
a b B Homebuilt system
March 9, 2008 3:41:41 AM

Have you scanned for viruses or anything? Seems strange that it would happen at 9 pm sharp. Do you have anything set to run at 9 pm? Could be that's what's going on, maybe an antivirus program or other program tries to open and has an error. If you want, go to the start menu, go to run, then type msconfig, then hit ok. Click the selective startup button, then go to the startup tab, that will tell you what programs start up when the computer boots, see if you have anything strange starting up, also you'd be able to disable any programs you don't want to start with the computer from here. Very useful utility. If you want to test, just for curiousity, set the time on your machine for like 8:55 pm, and see what it does when it gets to 9 pm, if it locks up, and it's not really 9 pm, then I'd start suspecting some kind of hardware issue.
March 10, 2008 3:11:23 AM

9pm came and gone without a lock up.

Considering I did swap programs at 9pm that might of cause the freeze. At least we got it down to either being the RAM or HDD. The hard part now is replicating the issue since now it's random rather than definite (time-based or during installations). I find some way to replicate the issue and switch out the ram if I can borrow sticks from another computer.
March 10, 2008 4:11:01 AM

It's unlikely it's your RAM or RAM settings if memtest86+ didn't show any errors. I know you said that your CPU wasn't overheating, but try using Core Temp if you haven't already. Be sure to read the web page and any links to the AMD temp sensor peculiarities to be sure there is no offset required. then you could try Prime95 25.6. Choose small FFTs and be sure to keep an eye on Core Temp. Stop Prime95 if the CPU gets too hot.

Additionally, download SpeedFan and run the SMART to check the drive.

You can turn SMART on in the BIOS for future monitoring by the mobo.
March 10, 2008 5:16:11 AM

Video card?
March 10, 2008 6:37:19 AM

If you've replaced your hard disk cable and set up everything as it should be (HD in master at end of ribbon, DVD on slave in the middle), then it could be:
- your DVD drive may have gotten moody; sometimes, these devices can get cranky and fire random events, which will eventually blow the Windows kernel (freeze). Just to be sure, boot under Linux (any LiveCD will do, but it would be best to do a parallel install), use the system and look at the output of the dmesg command: if there is a hardware fault, the system will tell you.
- your hard disk may be getting bad sectors (may happen due to overheat, or long use): although you've run SeaTools, the only effective test is to use that same SeaTools program to wipe out (zero-fill) the drive and restart a long test.

My advice: try another hard disk, and try plugging the DVD-ROM drive as standalone master on the second IDE channel. If this stuff still happens, consider a new mobo.

I'm a bit concerned by your CPU, too; although you've stress-tested it, the overheat may have caused intermittent damage - tests won't show anything wrong, but an error may fire up randomly and stall the system.
March 11, 2008 1:07:32 AM

So I ran Prime95 for awhile until my temps went to 75'c and stopped. Nothing wrong there. I have S.M.A.R.T. enabled in the BIOS. When I was playing UT3 it froze... but, this time it was different. Like first, the screen froze but, the hdd activity light was still blinking and then it just stopped. 3 seconds later it came on.

I really think it's the RAM, it seem like my freeze ups now only happen when I have alot going on. Since during the time I had 4 Firefox windows, 2 apps and UT3 running all at once. I didn't think that was an issue for 2GB of fast ddr2 800 RAM. Almost take note my RAM does have heatsinks.

I had the idea of backing up my upmost important stuff on a few DVD's and writing zeros. I have a spare ddr2 512mb stick with me now, should I take out my RAM and give that stick a whirl?
a b B Homebuilt system
March 11, 2008 1:32:34 AM

You could, I know when I had ram with a heatspreader on it, I had that stick get too hot, and it fried itself. Maybe your case cooling could be inadequate? Like your cooling is good, but not enough airflow as it heats up over time? Maybe try getting some more airflow from front to back in the case. On my case, I think it has a 250mm fan in the side, as well as a rear exhaust fan.
March 11, 2008 2:45:42 AM

Did you run SpeedFan and click "perform an in-depth online analysis of this hard disk"? It should open a web page with additional information.

If you think it's the RAM I would run memtest86+ over night.

If you think the case is overheating try running the machine with the side cover off.
March 11, 2008 3:09:53 AM

Another idea is pull out the sticks, put one in, and play with it, duplicate your problem, and see if it sticks, i had a bad piece of ram when i built this comp, was driving me nuts, bsods, game crashes and such, i ran memtest and it passed with flying colors, but when i pulled a stick out at a time, i found with one, worked fine, other one bsod and game crashes again, memtest is great but it doesnt test everything.
March 11, 2008 3:44:57 AM

Sunshine87 said:
Okay, so, after hours of effort, I redeemed myself and I finally got the pins straight enough to go into the ZIF with "zero insertion force" as hoped. I plugged everything back in (now squeeky clean). Booted it up, it worked great. I noticed my CPU temps dropped nearly 30'c idle and 20'c busy. But, even with all that effort and stress, my computer still freezes when installing software. But, this time it's more random. Like, installing CCC. Usually, it would freeze at the NET 2.0 phase but, it zipped past that only to freeze at the end of the last installer. Shucks. I was playing games for an hour an no issues.

So, okay here's the standings.

CPU: Cleaned and tested, Ruled out.
PSU: Bought new one (Antec earthwatts 500w): Ruled out.
Dust: Gone. Ruled out.
Switched GPU's for testing, effects happen with both. Ruled out.
Fresh Windows install, ruled out.

That really only leaves the ram and the HDD's. Unless you want to point fingers at the DVD-RAM drive but, I wouldn't.



I don't suppose that you have another cpu that you can throw in that thing??
Or a buddy in whose system you can test your cpu??
As you have tested/replaced most of the hardware but the cpu,it needs to be tested outside the present system otherwise you can never be sure of it,,,can your local store test it ,maybe where you got your new psu??
Altho blackski suggests single stick testing of the ram Corsair does test before sales,still,,you never know???
It seems as tho you may ?? have either a heat or voltage problem of some kind ,, the constant stop start symptom without beeps from the mobo suggest a cpu voltage problem,it dosen't seem to be software as you have nae given any windoze error codes....:) )
March 11, 2008 12:40:30 PM

I ran the online test Zorg and it said my 200gb was very good 95% but, my 160gb was 85%. Hardware ECC Recovered and Power On Hours Count where in the "watch" catagory. My 200gb is my boot now and 160gb is my nearly empty storage drive.

I had freezes when trying to reinstall fear last night. Like at the DVD-menu. But, I skipped straight to the install to fix that. Then when playing it froze 15 minutes in.

The next freeze happened at 4:55 am when only music from WMP was going on (to see if it could go all night which it obviously didn't).

I'll try switching the RAM today and see what happens.

And Dokk2, I'm the only one I know who uses socket AM2.
March 11, 2008 6:19:54 PM

Did you close all other programs and try Prime95 small FFTs?. That will primarily stress the CPU with no, or very little RAM used. See my old post. Be sure to watch temps. If a core drops out you can see in the Prime95 window. You should run it for at least an hour or more, temps permitting.
March 14, 2008 2:20:53 PM

After nearly a week of use, my freezing issues ONLY happen during CD/DVD installers. Maybe Mitch074 was onto something. I switched RAM and it didn't fix it.
March 19, 2008 11:56:57 AM

After some examination, I just noticed when I only use 1 DDR2 stick, the things that froze everytime now work. So, I changed the DDR2 sticks hoping to see if the second stick was faulty but, the same effect happened. So, I figured maybe I fixed something by reseating it. So, I ran both stick again, things work on the first run then when I restarted and tried again, it froze. My guess is that my memory heatsinks have become faulty or my mainboard's ability to run two of them fine.
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