Old XP system shuts down unexpectedly-follow up

Last month I posted a problem http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/267323-45-system-shuts-unexpectedly with unexpected shut downs in the middle of the night, often running long processes. The kind responders suggested I clean out the cabinet which seemed to help. Unfortunately, it still happens from time to time. It doesn't appear to be a scheduled shut down from any programs and I made sure my power settings isn't set to power off.
My primary hard drive is very full and my local computer shop guy says that could cause shut downs as "it can't breathe".
Is this reasonable?
I added a second, higher capacity hard drive with lots of space, so I can delete some stuff and shift some stuff over if it'll help.
Any thoughts?
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More about system shuts unexpectedly follow
  1. splunge said:

    My primary hard drive is very full and my local computer shop guy says that could cause shut downs as "it can't breathe".
    Is this reasonable?

    I think he's not well informed. A full disk can cause problems, but powering off isn't one of them. I'd say it's either your CPU is running hot (check temps using software), your power supply is going bad (more likely), or the outlet you are plugged into is experiencing surges or brownouts (A good battery backup can take of this problem).
  2. Thanks!
    I've got it hooked up to a battery backup but it's past its prime. With recent blackouts the PC dies pretty fast, but I hope at least it's working to maintain a steady current.
    Any reccommendations for an idiot proof CPU temperature program? Any good sourse for where the temps should be running?
  3. I don't know when the last time you cleaned the inside of the case, but if it's dusty in there, clean it out as this will cause heat buildup too.

    HWMonitor can read your temps.

    You didn't list your specs, but Intel and AMD web sites will list your processor's operating temperature range.
  4. Thanks Hawkeye. I cleaned it out (at the suggestion of folks on the forums here) with an improvement.
    I'll check out HWmonitor
  5. A very full hard drive would not cause the shut downs but it would cause disk fragmentation, accumulate disk errors, and this can cause unstability and shut downs... so in a sense, the shop guy was right.

    It would help some if you move some files over to the new hard drive.... and you would probably have to move them anyway to perform a disk defragmentation.

    Other things you need to do;
    a) disable startup programs (Start\Run\msconfig\Startup), they can cause the system to run slow and take a longer time to boot.
    b) Also check the power supply with a voltmeter or replace it if it's the original PSU. A bad power supply can cause shut downs, that can be more frequent as it nears the end.
    20 pin PSU http://www.duxcw.com/faq/ps/ps4.htm
    24 pin PSU http://pcsupport.about.com/od/insidethepc/a/atx-pinout-24-pin-12v-psu.htm
    c) If the case doesn't have a system fan you should consider adding one, your system should run much cooler.

    CPU temperature program; Speccy includes fairly accurate sensor readers for mobo, processor and hard drive.

    Your BIOS is one of the best sources to know the processor temperature range. They have a thermal protection shutdown setting; you can use those numbers (low and high) as the higher and uppermost temps the processor should be submited to. Also read the article on how to find the specific temperature range for your processor.

    Maximum CPU Temperature
  6. Thanks Chicano. I deleted and moved over some 5 gigs over the weekend and defragged. Dell had me boot to setup without starting Windows and leave it like thatto see if it's a hardware or software issue. Fortunately (or unfortuately) since I cleaned the case out it's not happening too often, so the fact it hasn't died in setup doesn't really mean much.

    Regarding startup programs, I'm tempted to remove my Spyware Terminator program. I've got Avast and WinPatrol going all the time, I'm running the PC behind a router, I have XP's fire wall and peridocally run 1 of 2 spyware killers. The realtime shield for Spyware terminator maybe is redundant and certainly takes a while to boot. It always checks if I realy mean to modify or install stuff which I suppose is good but the drain on resources, esp at startup, is a pain. I think I've avoided a lot of startup garbage with WinPatrol's controls.

    The PSU is the original. Is replacing a PSU a big deal? I've installed memory, a new graphics card and the second hard drive.
  7. Changing a psu is easy. Most connections can only fit one way. Just look at the connections as you remove them then you'll be able to tell how to hook up the new one.

    If you have an older sata drive that has both a 4 pin power molex connector and a sata power connector, only use one or the other, NOT both.
  8. I agree with Hawkeye22; I'd just add that you check the number & type of power connectors you'll need to supply the Processor, Graphics Card, and IDE - SATA devices.. and also consider the CPU wattage you'll need, as well as manufacturer. Replacing the PSU is not a big deal.. just takes 4 screws and connecting the power connectors which only go one way so you can't go wrong when connecting them.

    2010 Ultimate Guide: How to Buy a PC Power Supply

    The fact it's died during the setup (BIOS post) can mean the problem is overheating. I've seen this happen on a few 478 socket systems, that were shutting down practically seconds after power-up, and that can only mean the processor is overheating... and P4s do overheat in seconds if they are not constantly being cooled down. I would check the processor contact to the heatsink, the fan speed and check the thermal grease.
  9. Thanks for the advice. It hasn't died during setup (yet). I'll check out the link.
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