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Random Lockups - Hardware or Software?


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#1 doogiedc

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 09:02 AM

Hello,

Windows 7
Dell
Intel Duo Core
2 GB RAM
Ge Force Video Card

I'm having a problem with my Windows 7 system. I'm not actually sure whether it's a software or a hardware problem. My computer locks up (freezes) at completely random times. It doesn't seem to matter whether it is idle for long hours of if I'm using a program. The only way to shut it down is by turning the machine off and turning back on for a dirty reboot.

There are no error messages or a blue screen of death. I've actually went into Windows 7's event viewer and there is nothing on the log at the moment of the freeze.

This problem occurred about 2 months ago, and the lock ups also happened randomly. I did 2 things to try to solve the problem. I deleted all of my temporary files and I updated Windows 7 with as much updating as possible. The only thing I didn't do is add the Service Pack 1 update because it was acting funny, not downloading.

Then I had no problems for about 2 months until this weekend. I tried to fix the problem in the same way, but this time, deleting temporary files and updating Windows 7 seems to have had no effect.

I also took open my computer case and tried to clean all the dust away. I'm embarrassed to admit that it was very dirty inside and some of the vents were clogged. All the fans seemed to be working fine.

I have a hunch that it is a hardware problem. Something happened yesterday that makes me feel like it has nothing to do with Windows. It locked up, so I shut it down and turned it back on.

The problem was, that I started to even have problems in the bios screen or the screen asking me to open up in safe mode or normal mode. It would just lock up again.

Then my video card seemed to not be sending video to the monitor. It wouldn't lock up, but I would get no output on the monitor as I heard the windows loading chime.

I also had downloaded a program to check the heat on the processor, and it was at about 35-40 degrees celsius, well below the 85 degree maximum for my machine.

I left my machine off overnight. I then booted it up in safe mode because I intended to go to work and leave it on idle. I thought that might test the theory of it being a driver issue, malware, or some other software problem. Sure enough, it actually locked up in safe mode after 5-10 minutes. This makes me think that it is not an overheating issue of any kind.

I do have a lot of peripherals. I tried disconnecting everything from the USB but it had no effect. Lockups still happened.

The frequency of the lockups actually seems to have increased.

I haven't really checked my RAM. I plan on doing a memory test when I get a chance. I'm really at a loss as to what hardware component might be failing, and it's a real bummer that there is no error code in the event viewer to help me. I am beginning to think of the Blue Screen of Death as an ally rather than something to dread.

Edited by doogiedc, 06 July 2011 - 09:13 AM.


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#2 MarkGS

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 02:16 PM

First thing I would do is update your chipset drivers, as well as updating your BIOS if there is an update available. I know of the freezing you are talking about, the past couple times I've seen it it's been motherboard related. But, before we go there check for those driver updates.

#3 keyboardNinja

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 02:56 PM

+1

On a side note:

The only thing I didn't do is add the Service Pack 1 update because it was acting funny, not downloading.

The download for SP1 will appear to stop downloading (and/or come in bursts), but if you let it sit long enough, it will finish. I've seen this on every computer I've installed SP1 on (using different networks).

It is probably unrelated to the freezing you've been experiencing, but once you get that under control, go ahead and let SP1 install.
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#4 doogiedc

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 06:50 PM

Thanks for the thoughts.

I'm strongly leaning to it being a hardware issue at this point rather than a software or driver issue.

Today, I made a boot disc with some diagnostic test programs.

The computer had trouble loading this or executing any of the tests. Once again, the freezing / locking was completely random. In some occasions, the monitor seemed to be not getting a signal from the video card even though the computer seemed to be running / not locked.

I checked on another forum, and one individual thought it might be a power supply issue.

I'm also guessing it's not the hard drive, since I'm getting the problem without loading the hard drive -- booting straight from the bootdisk.

I suppose my top 3 guesses now are RAM, the Power Supply, or the Mother Board.

I have two sticks of RAM and plan on taking one out to test the other and vice versa.

I've also heard that a multimeter can be used to check the power supply for problems.

As for the mother board, I wouldn't know how to test that other than process of elimination.

BTW, I couldn't run a RAM memtest because it's locking up before I can even do diagnostics.

Thanks for helping!




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