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Computer locks up at various times for unknown reasons


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#1 silmlent13

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 12:22 AM

Hi everyone,

Thanks for reading my topic.
I recently developed problems with Windows XP (SP2) on my laptop computer (Toshiba, 40 gb hd, 256 mb RAM). After I turn on the computer, it will operate normally, but at some point it will freeze, usually while the computer is processing something (I think: I hear the drive making noise).

The problem is, I have difficulty explaining what exactly is going on. Sometimes, I can use the computer for varying amounts of time from 10 minutes up until around an hour. Other times, the computer freezes during the start-up process. When it freezes, I can no longer move the mouse or anything else; it appears as if the entire computer has locked up.

This problem seems to have given birth to a series of other problems:
1. I will occasionally get the blue screen of death with varying messages. Usually it's a STOP 0x0000007, with differing submessages (sometimes I get a "driver irql not less or equal" attached, sometimes there is no submessage at all).

2. When I connect to the internet via an ethernet cable, this seems to make the computer show a blue screen or crash sooner (I'm not sure why). This computer is somewhat old, so it doesn't have a wireless connection.

The only major changes that were made to the computer recently were the installation of iTunes 8 (new, not an upgrade, and also including the AppleMobileDevice and other applications) and Sony Ericsson Program Suite (to interface with a cell phone). Also, I recently upgraded Skype to the most recent version.

Originally, I thought it was a problem with iTunes 8, so I uninstalled it, but it did not get rid of the problem. I have yet to rollback the other two applications as I thought based on Google that iTunes was the immediate culprit. After having no luck with iTunes, I tried to do a system restore to an earlier date. A virus check shows no problem with the computer when it was done immediately after the system restore; however, subsequent attempts to install software like ad-aware and even to use the stinger program have resulted in the computer freezing up at various parts of the scan.

My worst case scenario is that it might be one of two hardware problems. There might be something wrong with the network adapter, although I'm not sure why there would be one. I also worry that it might be that something happened to the RAM that caused it to become damaged. I'm not sure why there would spontaneously emerge one, though: the computer was in working order until the three aforementioned software changes.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that it is a software problem that someone could help me with, particularly because a hardware solution will be difficult to fix, as this computer was bought around 2002 and is far far over the obsolete line (at least by warranty standards). One reason I think it has the possibility to be a software problem is because immediately after performing the system restore I was able to perform a complete virus scan and perform low-level work on the computer, as well as restart it (it is after the restart that I attempted to connect an ethernet cable and the problems started again, although one may not be causative of the other). I am asking about this problem here because I hope that someone might be able to help me figure out whether it is a software problem or a hardware problem and, in either case, what my options might be.

Thank you very much for your help!

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#2 hamluis

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 06:31 AM

Hi :thumbsup:.

I may have missed it, but...what model Toshiba laptop?

I don't know about using 256MB RAM in a laptop with XP installed. I'd say that you definitely don't have enough memory installed for anything other than very routine computer tasks.

The STOP error code which you posted also points to memory as the area of concern, with the possibility of USB drivers creating problems. You can peruse the various situations in the link following.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=S...mp;aq=f&oq=

FWIW: It's important to post the entire content of any error messages, verbatim...to help refine the search for solutions. Although some users seem to think that one general error should only have one possible cause/cure...it just ain't so.

Louis

#3 silmlent13

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:46 AM

The Toshiba is a Korean computer. The model is Tecra 9100, model number PT910K-34CYK. I'm not sure what the U.S. equivalent is (actually, seems like it was also marketed in the U.S. as Tecra 9100; PCMag has a review). I can see how it is a memory problem (and I do know that I am lacking in the memory department); however, I'm not exactly sure why it would have been triggered out of the blue; wouldn't this kind of problem have developed before this?

In regards to the USB, I forgot to include in the prior post that there are two USB ports on this machine. One does not work for some reason, but has not been working for at least a year.

I will try to keep an eye on the messages and report them the next time it occurs.

Edited by silmlent13, 20 October 2008 - 09:14 AM.


#4 silmlent13

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:47 AM

Ah, a BSOD just occurred:

STOP 0x0000007 (0x0000000 0x0000000 0x0000000 0x0000000)

Is this one; however, again, other messages have shown up. If something else happens, I'll post it.

#5 hamluis

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:09 AM

Well...the only thing I can suggest is to test both your hard drive and the memory. From what I've read about similar errors (general error, no specifics) it's a hardware situation.

To test the RAM, Memtest86.com - Memory Diagnostic - http://www.memtest86.com/

How To Use Memtest86 - http://shsc.info/Memtest86

To test the hard drive, you can download and run the trial version of Data Advisor, http://www.ontrackdatarecovery.com/data-recovery-downloads/

The laptop supposedly has diagnostic software built-in, http://cdgenp01.csd.toshiba.com/content/pr...nostic_Tool.pdf You might try running that.

I would also try to ensure that the laptop has adequate ventilation, since overheating can also cause system lockups.

Cleaning A Laptop Computer - http://mobileoffice.about.com/od/usingyour...cleanlaptop.htm

Louis

#6 dc3

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:14 AM

With an older machine like this there are a couple of things that come to mind that could cause the computer to freeze. Overheating is on of the easiest to check for, purchase a can of air and blow out the vents, you can download Everest Home Edition which will mirror the temperatures shown in the BIOS so you can monitor the temperatures without having to enter the BIOS.

I agree that 256MB of RAM is inadequate for running XP, most people will agree that 1GB is a good amount for this operating system, and 512MB as a minimum. Another possibility is the combination of low RAM and a too full hard drive, you need to have at least 15% free space on the hdd for swap space. When you are using an application that is demanding on the RAM the hdd will act as a backup to assist it. If you don't have that 15% free space this can cause your machine to freeze up as well.

If you believe that the RAM is the problem you can run Memtest86 to see if there is a problem there. The longer that you run the test, the more accurate it will be.

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#7 dc3

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:16 AM

Hamluis must have posted his response at the time that I was writing mine, at least the suggestions are close. :thumbsup:

Family and loved ones will always be a priority in my daily life.  You never know when one will leave you.

 

 

 

 


#8 silmlent13

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 01:34 PM

Hamluis, dc3, thank you both for your comments! I will carry out the tests that you specified.

I made a mistake in my original posting: the computer has 512 mb of ram; originally, I popped open the ram compartment to take a peek, and had forgotten that there was another 256 mb onboard.

I don't think it's freezing on account of lack of free disk space, either: it's a 40 gb hd, of which 24 gb are free.

I'm still kind of baffled by the whole acceleration of crash upon connection of an ethernet cable, but let me try the tests you recommended first and then I might have a better comment at that time.

Thanks again!

#9 silmlent13

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 04:40 PM

Hi everyone,

Well, I changed the RAM, upgrading it to 1 gb RAM. However, it doesn't seem to have solved much of the problems. I no longer get blue screens of death, but instead after a bit of time the computer either freezes up (mouse does not move, keyboard doesn't respond, etc.) or turns off completely. The problem seems to be faster when there is an ethernet cord plugged in (it takes approximately 10 minutes for the computer to freeze up; without the cord it seems to take longer). When the computer freezes up, the light that indicates the hard drive is working turns off.

I also blew out the vents, which seems to help and tested the hard drive, which appears to be fine. However, I'm still baffled by this freezing up. I guess that upgrading the RAM seems to indicate that it's not a problem with the RAM...Help! :thumbsup:

#10 hamluis

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 05:23 PM

There may be nothing wrong with the RAM modules themselves...but that doesn't mean that it's not a RAM situation.

Freezing is still a prime indicator of heat and/or memory issues, IMO.

The RAM module that you "upgraded" to...may not be compatible with your system.

And...the timings for the system...may not agree with current clock settings in the BIOS. I had two perfectly good modules that would coexist on a given motherboard...only when that board's system clock was slowed.

Error messages would help.

Louis

#11 silmlent13

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 06:39 PM

Unfortunately, there are no error messages. Either everything stops moving or the computer just turns itself off.

I agree about the RAM. i thought that what was needed was PC2100 266 MHz DDR SODIMM (Just writing what I had seen online), but the guy at the computer store actually gave me RAM that was different (PC3200), insisting that it would work even though I asked several times. The BIOS reflects that the upgrade took place and the proper amount of RAM, though, and I'm definitely not an expert in RAM...

Could you please explain what you mean about "timings for the system"?

Thanks!

#12 hamluis

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 07:20 PM

I'll try, although many here can do a better job ot it. I'll use my personal experience.

I have a motherboard that, according to specs, takes PC3200. However, this board will not run properly if I install all PC3200 modules. It will run without problems if I install PC3200 and PC2100 together...because the motherboard is geared to run at the slowest speed when RAM modules do not match.

Since my PC2100 module is 512MB and my 4 PC3200 modules are each 1GB...I want to run the maximum amount of memory, if possible.

Every motherboard system has a setting that governs the RAM speed, allowing a smooth coupling between the RAM installed and the system. Some BIOSes allow users to access this, some don't. Mine does.

After I had done extensive testing with Memtest to figure all this out, I finally thought that I would see if I could adjust any of the settings for my board/RAM in my BIOS.

For my board, the default speed was 200. The range for adjustment was listed as 100 to 266 (I think). So I decided to see what would happen if I lowered the speed (an under-clocking, as opposed to overclocking), I wanted to know if that would allow 2 modules of PC3200 to operate together without BSODS, strange error messages, inability to access the XP CD properly, etc.

So...I changed the speed to 166, saved the settings in the BIOS, and then rebooted. All my instabilities disappeared, I was much happier :thumbsup:.

In retrospect, I now kind of believe that the modules may be faulty...but the modules worked fine with other boards at the rated speed. I only know that this adjustment by me is the only thing that allowed those modules to work properly (without problems) with that board.

Every BIOS is different, so there is no standard way of determining the adjustments that a user might make regarding memory...other than exploring the specific BIOS settings available in a system.

Louis

#13 silmlent13

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 02:27 PM

Thanks a lot for the help. In regards to changing the speeds via BIOS, I think that it's a little bit out of the range of what I'm capable of doing with this laptop. I'm not sure if this will help things, but when I upgraded the RAM, I inserted only the 1 gb PC3200 RAM and removed the older 256 mb PC2100 RAM. The computer, again, seems to run fine (even actually a bit faster)...until it freezes.

I guess I'm still curious about the fact that the freezing occurs faster when attempting to access the internet. If an ethernet cable is not plugged into the computer, it seems as if the computer will stay on for awhile, at least a half an hour, before freezing. However, with an ethernet cable plugged in and using the internet, it will, without fail, freeze after around ten minutes of activity. Is it possible that it is some kind of hardware incompatibility that developed all of a sudden?

Thanks a lot!

#14 hamluis

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 02:53 PM

RAM is a hardware item.

Frankly...I just checked 5 different vendors with RAM configurators (including Crucial)...and not one of them suggested putting a PC3200 sodimm into a Tecra 9100. Most suggested PC2100 sodimms as upgrades/replacements, while Crucial suggested that its PC2700 sodimms would work properly.

Louis

#15 silmlent13

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 10:47 PM

Hi Louis,

Thanks for checking into this. I didn't think it was a very smart idea, either, but the guy that I went to seemed to think it would be a solution. If you really think this is the case, then I guess I have no choice but to buy the proper RAM.

Not to keep suggesting alternatives or anything, but is it possible that there's something wrong with the motherboard? I ask because I'll have to order the RAM online and kind of want to have my bases covered in case; if the motherboard has the possibility of being faulty in some way, it might be easier to just toss in the towel right now...

Thanks!




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