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How Could Bad Ram Mess Up My Xp Installation?


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#1 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 08:53 PM

I have a question. I am trying to figure out what is happening with a computer. It was stuck in an endless cycle of rebooting, Windows never fully starting. I reinstalled Windows and it worked fine for about a day, then the behaviour started again. I then suspected the Hard Drive and took a new hard drive and reinstalled Windows on it. This worked for about 10 reboots and started the same cycle of rebooting.

I did some testing and found that the RAM did not pass the test. I replaced the RAM and retested: PASSED. Just to be on the safe side I reinstalled the 'bad' RAM and retested: FAILED. Removed and put in the known new good RAM.

But the computer still won't boot. Somehow the Windows installation has become corrupt. No prob, I am reinstalling it now on the original hard drive (while using the good RAM), but I don't understand:

How can bad RAM mess up Windows XP on a hard drive?

Any ideas on what actually happened?
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#2 acklan

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 09:07 PM

Could it be the data is corrupted in RAM and transferred to the drive altered and unusable?
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#3 boopme

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 10:07 PM

my 2 cents. Isn't there something about XP linking to the first hard drive( the first install) and requiring contact with m$ft for it to work? Hope I'm not beng a dummy here.
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#4 Enthusiast

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Posted 13 February 2006 - 10:26 PM

If you're going to have a dual boot system XP has to be first.

#5 phantazy

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 12:30 AM

Are you sure it's just bad RAM? How's the PSU?

#6 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 08:08 AM

Are you sure it's just bad RAM? How's the PSU?

You bring up a good point. No, I don't know for sure if the PSU is bad. I put a test on it and it tests ok. But I will try replacing. But for sure there was bad RAM in the machine.
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#7 Herk

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 11:03 AM

I recently had a similar problem. The ram had tested fine in the past, but suddenly my linux box wouldn't boot. I put in a different hard drive with ME on it and soon, that wouldn't boot, either. I ran a ram test and found one bad stick. I was finally able to get the drive that had ME on it to work, but the other drive never did. I managed to get Maxblast to work on it and it said that the hard drive was failing and must be replaced. Now I don't know for sure if the bad ram somehow caused the drives to fail early. But since removing that stick of ram, I am able to use both linux and ME drives on that machine with no problems. It had a new midrange-cost power supply in it at the time.

Working on other computers, I've found that the power supply going bad can pretty much destroy everything in the machine, including ram, drives, even motherboards.

#8 usasma

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 10:33 AM

RAM doesn't do anything but process information - Windows (and the BIOS) tells it what to do. So, Windows can write stuff from RAM to your hard disk.

But...There's other reasons for this sort of thing. I've seen bad video cards cause spontaneous reboots also - and I suspect that other hardware problems (to include bad/corrupted drivers) can also do this.

But...If the RAM went bad, I'd suspect an electrical problem (lightning strike, voltage surges, spikes, static electricity). And that can wreak havoc with other components also - lost a couple of NIC's and a TV card (in addition to the RAM) in one lightning storm. Even had surge protectors on the power leads (but not on the cable/network leads).

Finally, you can always boot with a DOS boot disk (and an NTFS reader if you're using NTFS) to see if you can access the hard drive.
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#9 Albert Frankenstein

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:08 AM

UPDATE: I replace the PSU, did another repair install of XP, and no more reboots. No more issues or problems.

So, if the PSU was going bad and causing havoc on this computer, why could I boot from a dos disk and not have reboots? Why only with Windows? Hmmmmmm..... <scatches head again>
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#10 acklan

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:24 AM

Windows is far more complex, hence more thing to go wrong. When you boot to a floppy you don't demand alot from your PS. It does not supply near as much as when XP is started. I'm not saying that is the reaso but food for thought.
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#11 usasma

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 11:39 AM

Could also have been data corruption (caused by a surge from the PSU) - that led to a fatal error and reboot.
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