The symptoms you describe could be symptomatic of a variety of things to include hardware/software issues, overheating caused by a failed processor fan, bad memory (RAM), failing or underpowered power supply, CPU overheating, motherboard, video card, faulty or unsigned device drivers, CMOS battery going bad, BIOS and firmware problems, dirty hardware components, programs hanging or unresponsive in the background, and even malware. If the computer is overheating, it usually begins to shutdown/restart on a more regular basis. If you're not finding any malware then its sounds like one of the latter problems.Note: Some video cards can generate such intense heat while playing games with high quality graphics that they require a separate cooling system. If that fan fails, the video processor will not be far behind and your system may start crashing. If the video card needs replacing, see "Illustrated How to Replace an AGP Video Card"
When Windows XP detects a problem from which it cannot recover, it displays Stop Error Messages
which contain specific information that can help diagnose and resolve the problem detected by the Windows kernel. An error message can be related to a broad number of problems such as driver conflicts, hardware issues, read/write errors, and software malfunctions. In Windows XP, the default setting is for the computer to reboot automatically
when a fatal error or crash occurs. You may not see the error code because the computer reboots too fast.
An easier alternative is to turn off the automatic reboot
feature so you can actually see the error code/STOP Message when it happens - this is also known as the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD).
To change the recovery settings and Disable Automatic Rebooting
, go to Start > Run and type: sysdm.cpl
Click Ok or just press WINKEY + Pause/Break
keys to bring up System Properties.
Vista users can refer to these instructions: How To Disable the Automatic Restart on System Failure in Windows Vista.
- Go to the Advanced tab and under "Startup and Recovery", click on the "Settings" button and go to "System failure".
- Make sure "Write an event to the system log" is checked and that "Automatically restart" is unchecked.
- Click "OK" and reboot for the changes to take effect.
Doing this won't cure your problem but instead of crashing and restarting you will get a blue diagnostic screen with an error code
and other information to include file(s) that may be involved which will allow you to better trace your problem. Write down the full error code and the names of any files/drivers listed, then provide that information in your next reply so we can assist you with investigating the cause.