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Computer shuts down randomly (sometimes at same time as TV!)

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September 8, 2008 2:21:44 PM

Hello! First off, be warned that I'm not a technical genius by any means so please bare with me!
I have a relatively new PC (2 months old) Gateway GT5670 w/ a AMD Phenom 8400 Triple Core Processor 2.10 Ghz, 3 Gigs RAM running Windows Vista.
In the last month, my computer randomly shuts down. This happens with no warning what-so-ever. Strangely, my digital tv in the adjoining room has shut down at the same exact second three times (out of the 20 or so times that the computer alone has shut off).
My husband is an electrician & has promised me its not a power issue as far as he knows. The computer & tv are on different circuits anyway (& no other lights or appliances lose power in these rooms).

Any thoughts? I've got Trend Micro running for virus protection & Webroot running for anti-spyware.

I appreciate any help you can give!
September 8, 2008 2:45:50 PM

variation in power due to the hurricane

since there is no power down south the closer you are the more the drain is in the grid. my power shut off 3 times last week with out a storm and its very rare.

i think its low voltage or fluctuations in voltage?


idea 2 - its cern

CERN starts up this week and it might create mini black holes

i think it might make a mini singularity like the big bang and create a mutlidemnsional rift - we might get a whole new universe? of coarse we be dead and scattered into sub atomic particles but who knows?
September 8, 2008 2:46:38 PM

If you want to protect your investment in the PC, then you should consider getting a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). Something like:

APC BR800BLK 800 VA 540 Watts 7 Outlets UPS

If the PC is actually shutting down from power loss that could end up messing up the hardware sooner or later.

Although if its shutting down itself, you should try to figure out the CPU temp. If its over heating, it will shut down from a thermal trip.

Edit:

Simple free temp program:

HWMonitor
Related resources
September 8, 2008 2:51:15 PM

It could be that you're experiencing voltage or frequency variations. Sometimes called "brownouts". It that's the problem, your components are shutting off due to low voltage or out of spec frequency.

I'd recommend an Uninteruptable Power Supply (UPS) to protect any sensitive or expensive electronic components. Make sure you look for one that will perform "line smoothing" to maintain voltage and frequency within a tigh band.

It's not necessarily an individual circuit problem but could be a building or neighborhood problem with insufficient power to handle the demand.
September 8, 2008 3:33:23 PM

Yes, Line Conditioning/Smoothing could be very important.

Voltage Fluctuations are not always corrected fast enough to prevent some of the issues seen.

Some of the better UPSes actually constantly provide the power and don't just wait until a power failure to kick in.
September 8, 2008 3:41:26 PM

all sound like possible causes. they are putting in a new power substation about 1/4 of a mile from my house & the installation of all of that huge equipment started... about a month ago (same time my computer started its neat little trick)... so maybe its related?

i'll check into that UPS w/ the conditioning/smoothing feature.
I appreciate all of the help - i didn't think it was a virus due to the t.v. acting funny as well.
THANK YOU!
September 8, 2008 3:46:51 PM

If you're going to buy a UPS at a local store to save money on shipping (these things are HEAVY) then be careful about terms. Some will try to sell you equipment to reduce "line noise". That's mostly for audiophiles and they will talk your ears off about how important it is. What you're really looking for is frequency and voltage control. And of course, a short period of time to maintain power during a power loss is appreciated. I see the most advantage in that I can keep my modem and wireless router going during a power outage and still use my laptop if I want.
September 8, 2008 3:47:24 PM

Ya.. having a new power substation would do that.

The UPS I linked is just an example. You could look at ones at a local Best Buy. I do prefer the ones that display the power and time left on the batteries, but that just my preference.
September 8, 2008 3:57:46 PM

I have an electrical background myself, and here is my theory:

High tech components use a "soft on". That is to say, that the device is always 'on' when plugged in. The power switch really just powers on the remainder of the equipment(usually all of the high power consuming parts). The power switches these days commonly run off of a bi-stable type circuit. If the voltage drops, even for a split second, it can affect the bistable and make it change states from on to off. Basically the short drop causes the bistable to forget its state, so it ends up being reset to off.

The other possibility is that there is interference going through your home from other equipment on the power grid, and it is causing a certain frequency to resonate through your equipment causing the bistable to reset to off.

What you could do is try using a UPS. If that solves the problem then the cause was something from the power coming into your house. I always recommend people buy a UPS for their computers. Nothing fancy, just something that will turn off the computer gracefully when power is lost.

September 8, 2008 4:17:44 PM

Got it. sounds like regardless of this problem a UPS is a good thing to have.
September 8, 2008 4:25:01 PM

Having a good power supply and UPS are important for your PC's health! I have an older UPS that is similar to the one Griimmy linked to. Imagine your computer rebooting when you are in the middle of something!
September 8, 2008 5:15:11 PM

ya, thats exactly whats been happening to me. i love entering tons of data into quickbooks or putting the finishing touches on my latest ad in photoshop only to be surprised by a black screen. its pretty much the best feeling ever. ;) 
September 8, 2008 5:26:05 PM

But dragonsplayer might also be right. Could be gremlins!
September 9, 2008 10:43:02 AM

dragonsprayer said:
variation in power due to the hurricane

since there is no power down south the closer you are the more the drain is in the grid. my power shut off 3 times last week with out a storm and its very rare.

i think its low voltage or fluctuations in voltage?


idea 2 - its cern

CERN starts up this week and it might create mini black holes

i think it might make a mini singularity like the big bang and create a mutlidemnsional rift - we might get a whole new universe? of coarse we be dead and scattered into sub atomic particles but who knows?


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^NICE!




Sorry, I just could not help myself...
!