I made a thread about my system in December last year, which you can see here. However, soon after, I got so frustrated I just started using my laptop solely until a couple of weeks ago. Since I was setting up a new home office, I realised I would eventually have to start using my PC again, and adding to the fact I have a couple of screens ready to use for a dual screen setup, I decided to get to work and try to identify the problems straight away. I contacted the seller whom I purchased the RAM from, and they said it was still in warranty and I could send it back, but they'd need the original packaging. So I decided to upgrade from 8GB to 16GB and purchased the exact same RAM directly from Amazon. Although I still kept getting BSODs, I figured I'd get everything set up and ready. This is how my system was recently:
A couple of days ago, I saw a great deal online for this SSD. After buying, receiving and installing it, I used software to migrate everything from my old hard drive (fortunately it didn't take a lot of work to decrease the partition size to fit) to the SSD. Surprisingly though, it didn't rectify (explained later) any of my startup lag, but general use was sped up. Speaking of general use, as you would expect with the new RAM installed and the old RAM still there, on average through general use I got about 1-2 BSODs a day. If I tried to run a game such as Skyrim, I would get a BSOD very quickly. Keep in mind I didn't get a BSOD with Skyrim for quite a while after I first started playing it around the time of its release last year.
As said, my main motivation for getting this hunk of metal working again is my home office. I can't work on important projects with the fear of my computer going kaputt on a daily basis. So I loaded up memtest86+ last night and let it run. After waking up and getting some breakfast I was surprised it was still running. Of course, I eventually came to the realisation that it was looping. I don't get it. Everyone recommends this software. But how the heck am I meant to get any useful information from it if it keeps on looping. I know a lot more than the average end user, but I guess I certainly should have printed off some instructions for this one. Anyway, at least I was able to take a photograph. You'll see it was running for over twelve hours. If you can diagnose anything from it (aside from my RAM probably being FUBAR), that would help:
But the worst is not over. After taking that photo, I restarted my computer. My computer takes a while to start up because it seems a little confused over the multi-monitor display setup and sometimes I have to type in the password blindly until the screens turn on. Anyway, upon doing this, this morning, I was very puzzled by hearing the pretty avast! lady saying, "Welcome to avast!" I felt a pang of fear as I saw that my whole computer appeared to have been reverted to a fresh state. Except, that isn't quite the reality. A lot of my applications were installed. For some mysterious reason, my main browser, Chrome, had vanished. Also, I was told my user directory was corrupted, so I couldn't access any of the files there. You might recognise in the first photos I took that I was running Stardock's Fences application, which is a great and lightweight way of organising your desktop. But nope, my fences were gone! And the welcome dialogue for Fences appeared.
Additionally, pretty much all of my licensed software had reverted to shareware versions. This was quite a nightmare. Could it be the fault of the SSD? That's not the most dreadful part, though. I panicked when I noticed that Skype would not sign in despite knowing my password, and then trying to sign in on my phone which had auto-sign in enabled. Somebody had changed my password. How?! Was a keylogger installed on my computer? For this reason I was rather cautious and decided to download Ubuntu, which I am running now from the Live CD. But back when I was on Windows 7, I decided to run avast! and Spybot. Whilst I don't have a screenshot of avast! the outcome is the same as Spybot's:
No threats found. Fortunately, when I was on Ubuntu I was able to reset my Skype password, but nevertheless this was quite a shock. Oh, and although I'm not the biggest fan of Linux, I haven't had a single BSOD or graphics error when running Ubuntu. Here's a quick list of most of the problems I have encountered (before the biggest *** hit the fan) when using Windows 7:
- 1-2 BSODs a day usually with the error described in my other thread (linked to at the top of this post)
- Desktop Windows Manager error when Windows loads which results in Aero disabling, but I wrote a BAT script to restart the service and load Aero again
- Despite running the BAT script, sometimes the error happens again and I have to run it again
- BSODs are more likely to occur with heavy load, such as running high-end games, and I haven't been able to defragment my second hard drive (not SSD) completely without a BSOD occurring during the process
- Second and third (third is a mini monitor powered via USB) screens flicker once in a while, no idea why
To answer the questions (sorry I didn't in the first place!) in the other thread...
Did you manually set the timings, speed and voltage of your new ram in the bios or did you just leave it on auto? I'd check to make sure the bios is set to the exact settings on the sticker that's on the ram. If the voltage is off, it could cause all kinds of issues.
I looked into this, but I don't think it's possible with the Dell BIOS. If memory serves I'm pretty sure the voltage of the RAM is 1.5v. That's standard, right?
What motherboard and memory are we talking about?
Back when I made that thread it had 8GB of RAM. Now it has 16GB, but the exact same brand and model number as before; two extra 4GB sticks. This is the RAM in question. As for the motherboard, it is what came with the Dell Vostro 430. Although the specs here aren't exactly the same as the UK specs, this US page states its chipset is the Intel H57 Express.
If all the settings are correct for your ram, and the memory won't pass memtest, it's bad, return it.
I'll have to check the BIOS again, but I'm fairly certain no settings were available. As for memtest, you can now see some results on the photo, but there's no clear indication of the failure rate since it appears to be going in a loop. I'll have to try different combinations and see if I can single out one of the RAM sticks, obviously starting with the old RAM. It's a shame it isn't a little more user-friendly. At any rate, now I have the box to send it back in from the new RAM, I can send the old RAM back to the seller. Is it not possible that one of the RAM bays is faulty? Hmm, this will require much testing.
You could definitely make sure you have the latest graphics driver for your card or chipset.
bugcheck 0x116 is "VIDEO_TDR_ERROR", which "indicates that an attempt to reset the display driver and recover from a timeout failed.", the assessment that the video card may be involved would appear to be accurate
It would explain aero going out before it happens. Have you tried different drivers or if you can, a different video card?
I recently upgraded to the most recent drivers from NVIDIA that work with my card. The errors persist. Unfortunately I don't think I have another card to test right now, or the cash to splash out on one.
Also you said ''it did seem my RAM produced many errors'', so it did at least produce at least some errors?m, cause if so then i'd probably go after the RAM first if Memtest showed any errors with memory. I don't think logs are created after Memtest is finished, but i could be wrong, it might be something like memtest.log. I'm not sure though.
Yes, but the real mystery is: what is the problem hardware? Could it be both the RAM and the graphics card? Or could it be that faulty RAM is causing the graphics card to malfunction and result in the BSOD that has the bugcheck offset you quoted, which appears to be a graphics card problem? As for the logs, I think you're right. From my experience, since it seems to run in a loop, there's no indication of any log, and most of the options in the configuration are too complicated for most users without a proper guide.
i always recommend a minimum of a repair install when you change something out as important as a gfx card, especially if your changing between the 2 main brands... same for cpu or motherboard.
the H.A.L. the hardware abstraction layer that helps windows decide what hardware drivers to install at boot. b4 any of the 3rd party external drivers. if you install windows it will install a specific set of drivers via H.A.L for specific hardware and disables others. so if you then change that hardware windows will still load up unneeded drivers and not load the needed 1s. end result is the growth of system instability. it will start with the odd b.sod and build to a point where windows wont boot over the next few weeks.
so run your hardware checks as you normaly would. and if all is well then do a repair install. hopefully that will be enough to get the system stable again.
That's some good advice. At the time you gave me that, though, I felt a little bitter over the fact I had only had the system running, quite well at that, for just a couple of months. I'm tired of having to reformat (or employ similar solutions) my computer on such a regular basis when I treat it well, but now what has happened to my SSD has happened, it might be a suitable solution. At least the old hard drive that had the data that was migrated to the SSD is still alive and well and has that data, so not all is lost. I guess I could try reformatting the SSD and if nothing improves I still have what was on my HD previously.
your best bet is to start with one of the new dimms in one slot and run memtest on it. if the mb errors out with one dimm i would email dell and the ram vendor. find out from dell what ram is on there qal list for the motherboard. you need to find out the ram voltage and timing. also contact the ram vendor and see if they tested there ram on that model dell or intel chipset.
if dell or the ram vendor wont help use some of the big ram sellers memory tools and see if the local micro center or computer store has one of those dimms you could use for testing. if the new dimm is fine then you can contact the first dimm company or your credit card for a refund. the other issue could be a weak power supply. the power supply is this micro pre builts are under sized. you could be having a power issue and it showing up as a ram failures.
Okay, thanks. I'll give it a try tomorrow most likely and let you know what the outcome is. One thing in particular that annoys me is not knowing why the SSD just died on me like that. It's turning me against the idea of using them since it pretty much broke so soon after getting it. I think I might return it to where I bought it from, which is a shame. Hell, running Ubuntu from a CD (and suspending instead of shutting down) is doing a better job right now!
A bit of a late reply, I know. I'm just about ready to send the old RAM back as I have (after a week of being generally happy with Ubuntu) ran a couple of tests on the new RAM alone; both of the 4GB. First of all I tested using a full scan with Dell's own diagnostic utility. No errors were reported with the new RAM. However, after running memtest for nearly three hours, you'll see in the photograph that there was one error.
Is this anything to worry about? I'd find it hard to believe that brand new RAM I purchased is also faulty. Finally, I ran Skyrim for close to an hour on my original hard drive. Originally with my old RAM when it started malfunctioning it only lasted about 2-5 minutes before bluescreening. However, I think I'm going to take advice given in the other thread about the problems HAL can cause and create a fresh Windows 7 install on my SSD.
Some problems have arisen which I'm sure some of you have encountered, though. I have a lot of programs installed, most of which I use at least on a semi-regular basis. Unfortunately, plenty of these programs don't actually have a backup function, so if I want to save configurations I'm probably going to have to find methods on how to do so for each program.
If anybody has done this, what is the most hassle-free way to essentially migrate a system's programs and their settings without copying any drivers, so essentially a fresh install without the painstaking days of installing many applications and configuring them like they were before?