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PC reboots randomly

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September 14, 2011 5:21:58 PM

Firstly, I've never used a forum before so sorry for any random misuse, like if I don't reply because I can't work out how or something.

So, my PC is a home build & 3 and a half years old. We built it to the specs necassary for video editing but on a small budget. I've never had a problem with it... until about 5 months ago.

I made only my second modification to the system after 2 years of making the best of the PC. I installed a 3rd Hard drive. (The first modification had been to install a third hard drive but it died about 6 months later). I also installed 2 new sticks of RAM, taking it to 4GB and ultimately Windows XP Home Editions limit.

The PC began to randomly reboot and random intervals. It never gave any error messages. I still don't think it realises it's doing it. Sometimes it lasts seconds. Sometimes it will stay on for an hour or more. We installed a new PSU, incase it couldn't handle the 3rd HDD. That didn't make a difference. Then I figured I've probably bought the wrong RAM, took the 2 new sticks out, and it was fixed.

Now, 4 months on, the same problem has come back. It randomly just bombs out and restarts with no error messages. I figured if it was RAM last time, it's probably RAM this time. So I took the old ones out and tried the new ones (the ones that I'd bought, put in & took out) and tried them seperately. One didn't work at all, so I figured that was the dud. The other one worked, so I left it to do a 24 hour soak test, and it worked. Then when I start actually using it for something, it conks out. I've tried each of the 4 sticks seperately, in different RAM slots. Always the same results. Whether it takes 4 hours or a few minutes, the PC randomly reboots.

Sometimes you don't hear the computer do anything, like nothings happened, but the screen goes blank.

Today, for the first time, the screen went black and then I got white jaggered vertical lines down the screen. The PC still sounds like it's running.

Rather than bombing out completely it's also developing a habit of freezing and the sound stutters repeatedly, with the screen holding the same frame. The mouse won't move, Ctrl, Alt+Del doesn't work. I have to just press the reset button.

I've tried unplugging 2 of the 3 hard drives and seeing if it will just run with the active drive, incase there's a conflict with the others, but that had the same result.

I'm really, really hoping this is a cheap fix.

More about : reboots randomly

September 14, 2011 5:24:09 PM

I also meant to add it NEVER rebooted before the log in part, so it passes its POST and initialises devices etc first
a b B Homebuilt system
September 14, 2011 5:46:13 PM

An easy way to test RAM is to download memtest86, burn it to a CD, and run it.

As for the rebooting, go to Control Panel->System->Advanced and click the settings button under "Startup and Recovery". Under the "System Failure" group make sure that the logging option is checked, and the automatic reboot option is unchecked. Also make sure that under the "Write Debugging Information" group that "Small Memory Dump" is selected.

After the next failure you should get a blue screen instead of an automatic reboot. You can also check the log file to see if there is anything worth googling.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 14, 2011 6:05:37 PM

Take a look at all of the software you have on your system. Have you installed anything new, upgraded drivers, added any kind of monitoring programs? Unexplained reboots and lockups can often be caused by programs.
September 14, 2011 10:16:28 PM

Thanks nordlead :) 

I've now changed it to uncheck Automatically restart. The rest was already set as you've suggested. I'll now try find the log you mentioned. I'll let you guys know if I find any error codes too.



nordlead said:
An easy way to test RAM is to download memtest86, burn it to a CD, and run it.

As for the rebooting, go to Control Panel->System->Advanced and click the settings button under "Startup and Recovery". Under the "System Failure" group make sure that the logging option is checked, and the automatic reboot option is unchecked. Also make sure that under the "Write Debugging Information" group that "Small Memory Dump" is selected.

After the next failure you should get a blue screen instead of an automatic reboot. You can also check the log file to see if there is anything worth googling.

September 14, 2011 10:21:57 PM

The only thing I can think of, with regards to software, is that because it's been in use for over 3 years now, system critical files might have gone missing or become corrupt. Don't know if that theory fits considering sometimes it lasts hours and sometimes it lasts seconds.

I don't download programs or even so much as songs, so I can't think of anything I've installed within the last year.

Another problem with the theory of missing system files is that I don't know how to replace or check for them. I don't have my original discs.

I've wondered whether this would be a good opportunity to upgrade to Windows 7.

The only thing putting me off doing that (and this will probably sound really stupid) is that when I upgrades from Avid Express (video editing software) to Avid Media Composer V.5, it wasn't backwards compatible with my unfinished projects. So I lost all the edits I was in the middle off. Now I have unfinished edits on my current system and I don't want to loose them.



JKatwyopc said:
Take a look at all of the software you have on your system. Have you installed anything new, upgraded drivers, added any kind of monitoring programs? Unexplained reboots and lockups can often be caused by programs.

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