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Dead Computer


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#1 EdithBunker

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 10:10 AM

My son's computer is dead. Yesterday, he was listening to music on I-tunes, had several (maybe 10-12) windows open, a school assignment on microsoft word, and then he got a BSOD saying pen_list is corrupt and that the computer would be shutting down and restarting. He said there was other stuff on the screen but he couldn't read it in time. (A string of letters and numbers, and words, he thinks) I didn't see any of this.

The computer never restarted. We tried the start it up by hand--it gave a menu set of coices including safe mode, but I didn't get there in time to suggest safe mode. It went to the ACER screen, but nothing else happened. We shut it off by the on/off button. We let it sit overnight and tried to start it up this morning, The blue on light goes on and nothing else happens--the screen stays black.

I don't think I can even start it up in safe mode that way.



Prior to all this, he had been noticing a considerable slowing down in his computer. Pages load slower, music slower, etc. But I just shrugged it off to the internet connection we had. We had cut back to a slower cable connection in order to save money and his slowed speeds coincided with that, so I never looked into his computer to see what might be going on. His is a Vissa and I am most familiar with a win98 and XP! The Vista intimidated me and I rarely do anything on his computer, including maintenance things. I showed him how to run his own virus scan and emptying of temp files and such. I don't think he runs things like antispyware. He uses Firefox or Safari as his browser. (Firefox is his first choice, but he'll use Safari when Firefox is running slow) He rarely uses IE

I don't think I know enough info to give you, but this is what is on the front of the computer:
Acer
Vista
250 gb hard drive
3gb ddr2 memory
e2 160 intell premium dualcore processor
super multi drive

He has several installed programs, games, music, we use Avast home edition for AV


If we can't even start it in safe mode, is it dead? We haven't even finished paying for it! (But it's been over a year, so I'm sure there's no warranty)

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 11:02 AM

Are you sure it said PEN and not PFN

pfn_list is memory related
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#3 EdithBunker

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 04:59 PM

It very likely could have been PFN. My son is dyslexic, and he misses whole letters, or partial letters. (I'm his teacher, too-- we homeschool)



So if it's PFN_List/ memory related, what does that mean?

He also told me he always has about 80 processes running and wondered if that was normal.

Thanks!

#4 garmanma

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Posted 16 October 2009 - 09:57 PM

He also told me he always has about 80 processes running and wondered if that was normal.

I've seen more
You can download Process Explorer to show you what's running, then search the processes to determine if they need to run all the time:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinte...s/bb896653.aspx
Then use Autoruns to stop the process at Startup:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinte...s/bb963902.aspx

On to the memory problem
You can try removing the memory and replace with just one module at a time to see if you can determine which is bad
You can also try memtest:
http://www.memtest.org/
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Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
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#5 EdithBunker

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 12:00 AM

Hmm, I would try the tests you suggest, because removing the memory and replacing one module at a time sounds way beyond my geek ability!

The only problem with running the tests is that I don't know how to get the computer to even turn on in safe mode. Is there something I'm missing? I thought you hit f8 at start up, but nothing happens-- it's just a black screen.

#6 garmanma

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Posted 17 October 2009 - 04:49 PM

You download memtest to a CD and use an ISO program to make a bootable disk:
How to burn an ISO
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/201611/how-to-burn-an-iso-file/
How to test your memory:
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/207910/how-to-test-your-ram/

You enter the BIOS of the computer and change the boot order so that it will boot to the CD
Mark
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why won't my laptop work?

Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
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#7 EdithBunker

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Posted 18 October 2009 - 08:24 PM

garmanma
Thank you for your help--I didn't reply right away, because we went away for the weekend. I will do all this in the morning--I'm too tired tonight and we have a bigger problem-- the heat isn't working in our house! BRRRR! (S'posed to get to freezing tonight)

Lemme make sure I understand what to do with the computer: EDITING Done after reading the how to pages!

I will burn the mem test cd
Then start computer so I can get the cd rom door to open,

shut the door, turn off computer by the button, (I'm guessing it probably won't boot up that time?)

Push start button. . .

IMPORTANT MISSING INFO FOR EDITH:
How do I find out the BIOS of his computer?

And to change the boot order, is that going to be self-explanatory? (comes up on screen to make that choice?)

Then hopefully the computer will now be started.

Run the mem test cd


If it's a memory problem, how do I interpret it? On the tutorial, where it shows the red parts, look like geek to me, I wouldn't know what to do ith that info. I am going to run the long test, so i probably won't get results back here til tomorrow (tuesday)

Edited by EdithBunker, 19 October 2009 - 08:59 AM.


#8 EdithBunker

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 10:25 AM

Okay, you're probably going to roll your eyes, sigh in disgust, and yell at your screen.

I'm either more of an airhead than I origionally thought or we have more 'puter problems than I origionally thought.

I read the how to file on burning the memtest to a cd using IMGBurn. My computer (the one I'm typing on), won't burn cds--it plays cds, it's supposed to be able to burn--it used to burn, but it doesn't burn cds now--but it plays them and I can rip stuff to my computer.

My hubby's laptop doesn't have a cd burner.

My younger son's computer is the oldest in the house--it's cd burner still works--I thought. I dl memtest, put it on desktop. I dl IMGBurn, put it on desktop. Memtest was in a zipped file, so I opened it and unzipped it before I tried to copy. On IMGBurn, when using the search for files button, the only choice on my desktop (in the searched choices on IMGBurn), was the unzipped folder. I started the copy. It got the first bar loaded, saying it was complete, then it did the "cycling tray before verify". and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. . .

I popped the tray out and it aborted the job. So I started with a new cd. Same thing. I'm still waiting for the "device to become ready". It's been over an hour.

I'm wondering if unzipping the file is the problem?

The cd I threw away, when I put it in my computer, then check the cd rom under "my computer", it says there's nothing on the cd--so maybe I don't need to throw away the cd and can reuse it somewhere else?

Maybe the computer is too cold? (we have no heat, remember)

#9 garmanma

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 07:54 PM

To enter the BIOS you need to reboot the computer and after the original black and white screen, start tapping on the DELETE key
Some computers use the F2 key. Using your arrow keys you can select a section then hit Enter.
Boot order is usually the second section

Here are some different directions on burning an ISO
Maybe they will make more sense
http://www.killdisk.com/bootablecd.htm

:huh: Stay Warm :huh:

Edited by garmanma, 19 October 2009 - 07:55 PM.

Mark
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why won't my laptop work?

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#10 EdithBunker

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Posted 19 October 2009 - 09:56 PM

garmanma,
I think the computer I was trying to use to burn the cd won't burn cds, either--i went through three blank cds--two from an old package and one from a new package-- they all got to the point where IMGBurn does the "cycling tray before verify". and it hangs up there. I may have to wait til the weekend, when I see a friend who will burn the bootable cd from their computer. (Unless we can see him sooner, but he's really busy)

This is a real pain! I'll keep checking in here.

Is there any chance the ISO could be put on a pen drive--our pen drives probably still work!

thank you so much!

#11 garmanma

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 05:44 PM

Is there any chance the ISO could be put on a pen drive--our pen drives probably still work!

First, you would have to see if the BIOS allows booting to USB
I have read that you cannot do it, but there are articles out there that claim you can

You know, removing the memory is not that hard. Really
What is the model number of the laptop?
Mark
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why won't my laptop work?

Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
Do not send me PMs with problems that should be posted in the forums. Keep it in the forums, so everyone benefits
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#12 EdithBunker

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:32 PM

garmanma,
My son's computer is a desktop ACER. If this is the model number, here's what I found above the specifics about the RAM, etc, on the front of the computer ; AM5640-U5401A

If that's not what you're looking for, let me know where I would find it.

I'm sorry it's taking me so long to reply each time-- we're getting ready to move. (we're warmer at least-- temps went up). I'm thinking I'm going to have to wait til Sat when we see our friends, and ask to burn the bootable cd.

Removing the memory might be what has to be done anyway, since absolutely nothing happens on the screen when I use either the F8 or delete key. It is a totally blank, black screen. The monitor does turn on and off, but we haven't checked it on another computer. We tried a different monitor on the broken 'puter and same thing happens.

Does this information help any? (I won't be able to get back til late tomorrow evening)

Thank you so much for your help

#13 garmanma

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 06:11 PM

Memory installation guide
http://www.crucial.com/install/dimm.aspx
video

Mark
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why won't my laptop work?

Having grandkids is God's way of giving you a 2nd chance because you were too busy working your butt off the 1st time around
Do not send me PMs with problems that should be posted in the forums. Keep it in the forums, so everyone benefits
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