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Someone Please Save Me My Afternoon

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#1 wonderputz


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Posted 30 September 2008 - 11:35 AM

This may be a long post, but I want to put out as much info as I can, so please bear with me. I built this PC in mid-July; it's a 2.6G Athlon X2, 2GB RAM, 80G SATA HDD, running XP SP3. A few weeks ago, it started to perform random restarts. When it first happened, I didn't think much of it, and it didn't happen again for a few days, and progressively became a little more frequent. Moral of the story, I don't remember exactly when it happened first, so I can't remember if there were any programs installed that I can try uninstalling. So, since I recognized it as a problem, here are the things I've done:

Ran virus scan (Avast Anti-Virus) in Windows, and ran a boot scan. Came up clean.

Checked the Event logs. Never an entry from just before the restarts. And only sometimes is there a "Recovered from a serious error" entry afterwards.

When I have gotten an error report, the likely causes were all over the map. First it blamed the audio device/driver. Disabled the on-board audio, and separate HDMI audio driver; problem continued. Then it blamed the RAM. Downloaded Windows Memory Tester; passed all 11 tests. Have shut off the Automatic Restart for error recovery to get STOP codes. Only code I get is 0x00000050; page fault. Also ran driver verifier as hard as I could; no errors reported.

After hitting a wall for the last week, I decided to perform a system restore to some arbitrary time about 3 weeks ago. And this gave me whole separate list of interesting problems. Tried 3 different dates, wouldn't restore. Checked Microsoft Knowledge Base, tried their advice to try from Safe Mode. An Administrator password was never set, but I could not log into Administrator in Safe Mode. Had to log in to default user account (there's only one user in the system). Tried 3 different dates, wouldn't restore. Went through System Restore calendar, because it looked funny; almost every day was selectable. I looked at all points from when I built the PC, found all the initial drivers and programs, found SP2, and only 2 Windows Updates. Shouldn't installing SP3 also have created a Restore Point? I'm very curious about that one. And this is where I stand, ready to dump the hard drive and start again. So if anyone has any ideas that could save me the rest of my afternoon, I'd really appreciate it.

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#2 perr


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Posted 30 September 2008 - 11:43 AM

Stop errors here.

#3 nigglesnush85


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Posted 30 September 2008 - 01:30 PM

Hello wonderputz,

The event viewer may give some more information.

1. Click Start select run
2. Type eventvwr.exe
3. Press enter
4. Search through the groups for errors and warnings.
5. Double click on each error and or warning.
6. Locate the copy to clipboard button, Posted Image (under the two arrows)
7. Let us know what you find. (paste the results)


#4 usasma


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Posted 30 September 2008 - 02:21 PM

When you enable Driver Verifier it's supposed to crash Windows if it finds bad drivers - and the BSOD is supposed to have the file name of the driver that caused it listed on the BSOD page. Are you able to locate the memory dump files that Windows makes when a system crashes? They're usually in:
1 ) C:\Windows\Memory.dmp (a large file that's overwritten with each crash)
2 ) C:\Windows\Minidump (a hidden directory which can contain several of the .dmp files)
Can you locate the memory dump file that occurred after starting the Driver Verifier? If so, that's likely to tell you what the cause was (although this isnt' a 100% solution either). Did the crash happen immediately after starting Driver Verifier and rebooting - or did it take a while before the system crashed?

To help troubleshoot this, we'd need a listing of the BSOD errors with their error parameters (all the numbers and letters that are listed) in the order that they happened (to isolate common factors between the different error messages).

Here's a description of the Page Fault error message (STOP 0x50 for short): http://aumha.org/a/stop.php#0x50
As you can see, it's not just RAM that can cause this error. It can also be caused by any of the other memory locations on the system (and I'd suspect that a corrupted pagefile could cause this also). Antivirus software can cause it - as can a malware infection. Bad hardware can also cause this. I've seen it with a flawed PCI card (a NIC that took a lightning strike) and would suspect that problems with a hard drive may be able to cause it also.

Edited by usasma, 30 September 2008 - 02:27 PM.

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#5 wonderputz

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 07:20 PM

Running Driver Verifier did not cause any crashes. In fact, it didn't crash at all yesterday. After a few hours, I disabled it and went about checking other things. I've updated the drivers for all of my hardware. It's crashed 3 times since. As far as the BSOD goes, I only recently disabled Automatic Restart (maybe 3 days ago). Before that, whenever it crashed, about one in three times I would get the Windows error report. When I did get it, it was always 3 or 4 random causes, but I never bothered to copy the information. Mostly it told me to run the memory test. There were enough repetitions of a possible audio device/driver problem that I disabled the audio and the drivers. It's still crashing, so I know that wasn't the root cause. The only errors I've seen on the BSOD since I started paying attention are 0x50 and 0x8e. At this point, I'm more interested in performing a system restore, as a diagnostic tool. If I can go back a few weeks, and the crashes stop, then I know it's not hardware. So if anyone has any ideas for that, I would greatly appreciate it.
On a side-note, I was having a very quirky issue with Microsoft Excel today. I don't know how infused the Office programs are with the shell, but I've never had a problem with it before, so I figure I'd mention it, just in case it is related. In brief, Excel was editing anywhere from 3 to 20 sheets at a time as I typed. Meaning, if I was in sheet 3, typing in cell A4, I could find what I typed in cell A4 on multiple sheets from Sheet 1 to as far as Sheet 23. Again, I'm not looking for an Excel fix; just thought it might be related.

Edited by wonderputz, 30 September 2008 - 07:51 PM.

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