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Intermittent lockups, need troubleshooting advice

 
 
John
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      05-22-2010, 12:19 AM
My computer has begun to exhibit some seriously flaky behavior lately
and I'm looking for some help in trying to figure out what's wrong.

The system is an M2N-SLI Deluxe with 2 GB RAM and an Athlon 64X2,
running Windows XP. It's about three years old and has been running
fine for all those three years except for a PSU failure about a year
ago. (I replaced the PSU.) There's been no new hardware added
recently and the only new software is some Yahoo games that my wife
DLs, plays for a while, and then removes. I run regular malware scans
and I've had no indication of any infection.

The problem that I'm seeing is intermittent and seemingly-random
lockups. By this I mean that the computer stops responding to mouse
clicks and keystrokes. The cursor still moves when I move the mouse,
but that's all. When this happens I have to do a hard reset, and when
I do it reboots and everything is fine again.

This started happening about 2-3 weeks ago, and it seems to happen at
random times and under no particular circumstances. Sometimes it's
fine for a week, other times it'll lock up several times in a day.

Today the problem got worse. It locked up and I reset it as usual,
and this time it failed to boot. It beeped once (as it normally does)
and displayed the first few lines of the POST screen (identifying the
board and the BIOS, I think) and then just sat there. I reset again
and this time it booted normally and it's once again running fine.

And here's another observation: On a couple of occasions, I was
working on our other computer (the "good" one) and found that I had no
Internet access. I walked downstairs to the "bad" computer and found
that it was in its locked-up state. I unplugged the bad computer from
the router and the good computer suddenly had its internet connection
back again.

In attempting to diagnose the problem, I've run the MS memory test (in
extended test mode) for about three hours without failure and I've run
chkdsk, also without failure.

So what the heck does all of this point to? Does anyone have any
suggestions either about what might be wrong, or what else to check?

TIA

John

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TJ
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      05-22-2010, 08:13 AM
try a live cd of any linux distribution (ie: fedora, ubuntu...) and play
with it some time and see if it hangs like windows. If it doesnt you can
think about a fresh windows installation and if linux hangs it maybe a
hardware issue.

---

TJ :O)
 
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Bob F
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      05-23-2010, 07:25 PM
John wrote:
> My computer has begun to exhibit some seriously flaky behavior lately
> and I'm looking for some help in trying to figure out what's wrong.
>
> The system is an M2N-SLI Deluxe with 2 GB RAM and an Athlon 64X2,
> running Windows XP. It's about three years old and has been running
> fine for all those three years except for a PSU failure about a year
> ago. (I replaced the PSU.) There's been no new hardware added
> recently and the only new software is some Yahoo games that my wife
> DLs, plays for a while, and then removes. I run regular malware scans
> and I've had no indication of any infection.
>
> The problem that I'm seeing is intermittent and seemingly-random
> lockups. By this I mean that the computer stops responding to mouse
> clicks and keystrokes. The cursor still moves when I move the mouse,
> but that's all. When this happens I have to do a hard reset, and when
> I do it reboots and everything is fine again.
>
> This started happening about 2-3 weeks ago, and it seems to happen at
> random times and under no particular circumstances. Sometimes it's
> fine for a week, other times it'll lock up several times in a day.
>
> Today the problem got worse. It locked up and I reset it as usual,
> and this time it failed to boot. It beeped once (as it normally does)
> and displayed the first few lines of the POST screen (identifying the
> board and the BIOS, I think) and then just sat there. I reset again
> and this time it booted normally and it's once again running fine.
>
> And here's another observation: On a couple of occasions, I was
> working on our other computer (the "good" one) and found that I had no
> Internet access. I walked downstairs to the "bad" computer and found
> that it was in its locked-up state. I unplugged the bad computer from
> the router and the good computer suddenly had its internet connection
> back again.
>
> In attempting to diagnose the problem, I've run the MS memory test (in
> extended test mode) for about three hours without failure and I've run
> chkdsk, also without failure.
>
> So what the heck does all of this point to? Does anyone have any
> suggestions either about what might be wrong, or what else to check?


Have you thouroughly cleaned all the heatsinks and fans, and checked all the
fans are operating? This should include the display card.

Try running the memory test program memtest86+.

Do you let it send crash info to microsoft? Sometime my system has come back
with useful info in response after a crash.


 
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John
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      05-23-2010, 07:28 PM
On Sun, 23 May 2010 12:48:13 +0100, Peter Johnson
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>On Fri, 21 May 2010 20:19:20 -0400, John <(E-Mail Removed)>
>wrote:
>
>>My computer has begun to exhibit some seriously flaky behavior lately
>>and I'm looking for some help in trying to figure out what's wrong.
>>

>
>I think I'd be inclined to look at the PSU.


What would you look for? And how would you look?

John
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John
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      05-23-2010, 07:30 PM
On Sat, 22 May 2010 10:13:55 +0200, TJ <-@-> wrote:

>try a live cd of any linux distribution (ie: fedora, ubuntu...) and play
>with it some time and see if it hangs like windows. If it doesnt you can
>think about a fresh windows installation and if linux hangs it maybe a
>hardware issue.
>
>---
>
>TJ :O)


Thanks for the thought, but given the intermittent nature of the
problem it seems unlikely that a brief period of playing with Linux
would trigger the problem. And if it turned out to be hardware (which
is what I'm suspecting) it would leave me no closer to knowing what
part of the hardware. I may try your suggestion if I can't come up
with anything else, but I'm hoping for something more direct.

John
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John
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      05-23-2010, 07:30 PM
On Sat, 22 May 2010 18:58:31 -0500, "Homer Jay Simpson"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>Have you looked at your System Event log in the Event Viewer to determine if
>there were any Error events and the Source of that error?
>
>It might be a Service that has failed to start.
>


The event log shows some warnings and errors but they nearly all seem
to be related to DHCP and apparently are non-fatal. And none of them
occur near the time of the last two lockups (which I happen to
remember).

John
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John
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      05-23-2010, 07:34 PM
On Sun, 23 May 2010 12:25:35 -0700, "Bob F" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:


>
>Have you thouroughly cleaned all the heatsinks and fans, and checked all the
>fans are operating? This should include the display card.
>

Yes, actually that was the first thing I thought of. No luck, though.

>Try running the memory test program memtest86+.


Okay, I'll try that


>Do you let it send crash info to microsoft? Sometime my system has come back
>with useful info in response after a crash.


It never came up with the message offering to report the problem. It
just locks, then I have to reboot, and then it works quite normally
after that and acts like it doesn't know anything went wrong.

John
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Jack Simms
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      05-24-2010, 02:21 PM
On Sun, 23 May 2010 15:30:59 -0400, John <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>On Sat, 22 May 2010 18:58:31 -0500, "Homer Jay Simpson"
><(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>>
>>Have you looked at your System Event log in the Event Viewer to determine if
>>there were any Error events and the Source of that error?
>>
>>It might be a Service that has failed to start.
>>

>
>The event log shows some warnings and errors but they nearly all seem
>to be related to DHCP and apparently are non-fatal. And none of them
>occur near the time of the last two lockups (which I happen to
>remember).
>
>John
>Reply-to address is real


try all the event logs
 
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Foke
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      05-24-2010, 04:24 PM
On Fri, 21 May 2010 20:19:20 -0400, John <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>My computer has begun to exhibit some seriously flaky behavior lately
>and I'm looking for some help in trying to figure out what's wrong.
>
>The system is an M2N-SLI Deluxe with 2 GB RAM and an Athlon 64X2,
>running Windows XP. It's about three years old and has been running
>fine for all those three years except for a PSU failure about a year
>ago. (I replaced the PSU.) There's been no new hardware added
>recently and the only new software is some Yahoo games that my wife
>DLs, plays for a while, and then removes. I run regular malware scans
>and I've had no indication of any infection.
>
>The problem that I'm seeing is intermittent and seemingly-random
>lockups. By this I mean that the computer stops responding to mouse
>clicks and keystrokes. The cursor still moves when I move the mouse,
>but that's all. When this happens I have to do a hard reset, and when
>I do it reboots and everything is fine again.
>
>This started happening about 2-3 weeks ago, and it seems to happen at
>random times and under no particular circumstances. Sometimes it's
>fine for a week, other times it'll lock up several times in a day.
>
>Today the problem got worse. It locked up and I reset it as usual,
>and this time it failed to boot. It beeped once (as it normally does)
>and displayed the first few lines of the POST screen (identifying the
>board and the BIOS, I think) and then just sat there. I reset again
>and this time it booted normally and it's once again running fine.
>
>And here's another observation: On a couple of occasions, I was
>working on our other computer (the "good" one) and found that I had no
>Internet access. I walked downstairs to the "bad" computer and found
>that it was in its locked-up state. I unplugged the bad computer from
>the router and the good computer suddenly had its internet connection
>back again.
>
>In attempting to diagnose the problem, I've run the MS memory test (in
>extended test mode) for about three hours without failure and I've run
>chkdsk, also without failure.
>
>So what the heck does all of this point to? Does anyone have any
>suggestions either about what might be wrong, or what else to check?


In my experience, lockups tend to be caused by:

- Video issues (either card going bad or driver issue)
- Excess heat (bad cpu/vid card/chipset fan)
- Bad memory

Have you replaced your vid card driver recently (either manually or via
Windows Update)? Have you checked all your fans? The memtest utility
mentioned previously should address memory issues.

You say it happens randomly. Have you ever noticed it locked up when you
first sit down to use it, or do the lockups always occur *while* you're
using it. If it's the latter then try and be more cognizant of what you
did just prior to the lockup. If it happens right after clicking on
something then the likelihood is high that it's video related (the system
is trying to display something that it can't display).
 
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John
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      05-25-2010, 12:07 AM
On 24 May 2010 11:24:01 -0500, Foke <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:


>>So what the heck does all of this point to? Does anyone have any
>>suggestions either about what might be wrong, or what else to check?

>
>In my experience, lockups tend to be caused by:
>
>- Video issues (either card going bad or driver issue)
>- Excess heat (bad cpu/vid card/chipset fan)
>- Bad memory
>
>Have you replaced your vid card driver recently (either manually or via
>Windows Update)?


Nope

> Have you checked all your fans?


Yup. Dusted everything out, too (actually found it wasn't as dusty as
I expected, but blew everything out anyway).


> The memtest utility
>mentioned previously should address memory issues.


I haven't yet had a chance to try memtest 86+ but I will


>You say it happens randomly. Have you ever noticed it locked up when you
>first sit down to use it, or do the lockups always occur *while* you're
>using it. If it's the latter then try and be more cognizant of what you
>did just prior to the lockup. If it happens right after clicking on
>something then the likelihood is high that it's video related (the system
>is trying to display something that it can't display).


I've been watching for patterns of what I was doing and I haven't
noticed anything consistent. Sometimes it locks while in use,
sometimes while it's just sitting there unused (i.e., I've walked away
and come back later to fnd it locked up). It's hard to say if it
happens right after clicking on something because the only way I
notice it's locked is that I click on something and don't get a
response. But I don't know whether it locked at that moment or 10
seconds earlier or two hours earlier if I happened to be away for two
hours. I did on one occasion think to look at the tray clock when it
was locked and I found that it had locked several hours earlier while
I was out of the house and it was unused.

John

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